These days it seems like everything and everyone is going paperless. It really is a great option for so many reasons. It’s an easy way to keep all of your important documents together in one spot (and allows you to access them from just about anywhere), it helps to cut back on storing a bunch of paper files in your home or office, and of course you’ll be saving some trees!
Just take a moment to follow these five easy steps, and you’ll be paperless in no time at all. We also go into more detail in our free Best Practices for Going Paperless webinar.
- Filing System – The first step is crucial in making the entire paperless process as simple and organized as possible. Decide if you want to create your filing system directly on your hard drive, on an external hard drive, or in the “cloud” with a program like Google Drive or Dropbox. Be sure to use broad categories when naming your folders and get more specific when naming your sub-folders. You don’t need to get too complex in this step. After all, you want to make things easy on yourself, not more difficult. (For a more in depth look into creating a filing system, please click here)
- E-Statements – Most companies (banks, utility companies, etc.) have the option to receive all of your documents in electronic form. Take a moment to log in to all of your accounts and opt in for the “paperless” option. You can always log in at any time to receive current or past statements or documents. FileThis is a great service to download that automatically collects your paperless statements and saves them to your filing system so you don’t have to personally retrieve them every month.
- Scanning – Sort through all of your papers and scan the ones you need to keep onto your computer and into the filing system you set up. Make sure to use a good scanner (such as the Fujitsu Scansnap) or an app such as Scan Pages where you take a picture with your phone and save it as a PDF. You will then be able to shred most of your papers, but make sure to keep the originals of any important/legal documents that need to be available in paper form.
- Reduce “Junk” Mail – These days, “junk” mail can easily take up most of the mail you receive, sometimes even causing the important items to get lost in the mix. Lower the amount of “junk” mail by signing up for a service that can help you opt out of receiving it, such as dmachoice.org or optoutprescreen.com.
- Backup! – With all of your important documents being stored on your computer or hard drive, you’ll want to make sure to set up a backup system in case of a disaster (i.e. computer crash, stolen, damaged). Ideally, you want to backup all of your information onsite and offsite. A few great tools that will automatically backup your files include SyncBackFree, Carbonite, and Time Machine.