Going paperless doesn't need to be an “all-or-nothing" plan. Take steps to decrease your paper usage, and you will slowly reduce your reliance on paper and cut out the paper clutter at home.
Going paperless can seem daunting because you'll have to figure out what to do with everything from postal mail to receipts. However, it's not impossible, and, more importantly, it's worth it. Going paperless can reduce information overload but also provide other environmental benefits. Following these steps can help you down your path to becoming a paperless company.
What are the benefits of going paperless?
Going paperless benefits the environment saves money, and reduces clutter in your home and office. Even if you aren't overwhelmed with tons of paper, having a near-paperless environment can help reduce clutter. Studies show clutter causes stress and anxiety and decreases productivity and creativity.
It might be a no-brainer that going paperless has a positive environmental impact ... but how much of an impact? Did you know the average American receives 41 lbs. of junk mail per year—and of that, nearly 50% of that mail is never even opened?
Taking the leap to reduce paper and have a more eco-friendly lifestyle will greatly impact the number of trees destroyed every year—while making your life feel less cluttered. It's a win-win, so what steps can you take to go paper-free?
How to reduce paper in your workplace
1. Be a leader
One of the reasons some companies don't go paperless is that there's no one on the team pushing for a change. Essentially, many businesses are ready and willing to go paperless, but nobody is leading the way or providing the tools needed to start. Any individual can step up and lead the way to become a more efficient office.
Approached the right way, your team will be grateful for the environmental benefits and the overall working experience. No matter what level you're at, you can set goals for your company as a whole that encourage an easy transition to an electronic document management system.
As a business leader, the important part about going paperless is that you lead by example. If you have your own filing cabinet overflowing with documents, consider uploading them to cloud-based software. Set goals for yourself and take ownership of those goals. If your employees see you leading the way, they will be more likely to follow suit, and you will drive home the importance of what going paperless really means.
2. Normalize going paperless
No matter how strong the paperless initiative may seem, your company won't complete the transition unless employees are on board. Show them the ways going paperless could benefit them. Demonstrate the time and energy they'll save in a paperless office. Specifically, they'll be able to view, read, and share documents and files from their computer without printing more paper. They just have to see that going paperless will make their jobs easier.
3. Organize paper files and documents
Now that key leaders are taking the initiative, and you have strong backing from your employees, the tougher side of going paperless begins — organization. Getting organized is a key component of your plan to go paperless. If your team cannot organize digital files, you might find yourself inheriting a paper system's stress.
- Create a unified organization system for your documents by name, year, department, etc.
- Divide the heavy lifting between employees or departments and divvy up documents into categories for the organization.
- Determine an expiration date for all documents; anything older than the decided date (think: auditing) can be found and shredded. This will help weed out unneeded space in cloud storage and help keep you more up-to-date in the process.
- Set a goal for when each employee or department should have their files organized and ready to enter your chosen document management software.
- Follow up until your goal is met. Once paper documents are organized, you can prepare to take your business to paperless.
4. Choose the necessary document management software
With a newly organized system of documents, you're going to need to find the right digital document management system. The choices for finding the right system for you and your company are endless, so you need to research and compare your options before making a decision. Determine the needs of your company and your monthly budget.
To aid in your search for the best option, we recommend sitting down and making a list of your business's functionality needs the most out of a document management system. These typically include data backup, amount of storage, number of users allowed on the account, audit logs, and automation.
After selecting your software provider, set up training to allow for a streamlined understanding of the software cross-departmentally. The important thing is that all employees who handle, file, and need access to information in the cloud will be able to do so digitally and confidently. With all that under your belt, you can finally begin the transition from paper-driven to paperless.
5. Reap the benefits
Once you finish the steps for going paperless, much less effort will be needed to stay paperless. Printing, labeling, and filing will be a thing of the past.
As you begin digitizing your files, you'll start to see the number of benefits in the office. Your employees, customers, and business as a whole will benefit from making the switch to becoming a paperless company. Your company will notice the time and energy spent doing the cumbersome tasks of filing and searching manually will be shifted into being more productive as a whole.
By following the steps outlined above, you can manage your company's paper problems and feel good about becoming a more efficient, paperless office.
Ways to eliminate paper use at home
1. Remove yourself from unnecessary mailing lists
Over time, we find ourselves on countless mailing lists receiving catalogs from stores we no longer purchase from. When you do still receive junk mail at home, make sure it goes into the recycling bin instead of tossing it in the trash.
2. Enroll in e-statements
Think of the bills you pay regularly. If they aren't already online-only, you can shift to electronic bill statements so that you never receive monthly letters from your credit card company, bank(s), or utility companies. Take it a step further and pay those bills online, too.
3. Digital subscriptions
Do you still receive physical magazines, newspapers, and/or newsletters? An easy way to transition to paperless is turning those subscriptions to purely digital or canceling them. A positive aspect of social media is we have news, entertainment articles, and more at our fingertips. So, maybe reevaluating if you still need your newspaper or magazine is a good idea—plus, it will save you money. Many newspapers and magazines provide e-editions, so you can still access all the reading material you want without having to manage the paper load that comes with them.
If you are an avid reader and purchase your books, consider borrowing from your local library or switching to an e-reader such as an Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, etc.
4. Use cloud storage
Do you have a file cabinet with old documents? Scanning your important documents, recipes, mail, and receipts and storing them in the cloud can cut down on paper storage. Cloud apps include Google Drive, DropBox, Microsoft OneDrive, and more. When you sync to cloud storage, you'll easily search and share your documents.
5. Reduce paper usage in everyday life
If your countertops are cluttered with various types of pieces of paper grocery lists and notes, consider using an app to manage to-do lists or simply using a dry-erase board on your fridge. Both can eliminate the need to have notepads around the house. You can also stop using paper products, such as paper towels and paper plates, and opt for dishes and towels instead.
Another way to go paperless: A virtual mailbox
With a virtual mailbox, your incoming mail and important documents become digital and can be organized in cloud storage. We integrate with preferred software such as Xero, DropBox, Quickbooks, Bill.com, and more.
Everything that you receive, we recycle—unless you want the physical item. When you do, all you need to do is let us know, and we will ship it to you.
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