The Paperless Journey, one year in…

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January 20, 2017

The Paperless Journey, one year in…

Photo by Michael Paschos

Twelve months ago I started a journey.

The journey was to change the very nature of my corporate persona.

I longed to be person one. As I said twelve months ago:

Person one is the epitome of organization. She is a true Renaissance Woman of order. Her binder is fully tabbed. Her calendar is colour-coded by topic. She effortlessly pulls up the information she needs to cut through red tape. She is a force to be reckoned with.

But in reality I was person two:

Person two is me. A true buffoon of personal organization. I have no binder, just a pile of paper I printed at the last minute.  My calendar is jammed full and still missing important events. When I need to go into full information combat, I can’t find the ammo.  I am cannon fodder in the information age.

To transform myself from person two into person one, the tool was planned and the journey to become paperless began.

So here is my report, one year into the paperless project.

 

Paperless, a worthy goal?

First, was the goal even the right one? Was paperless really what was going to help with my organization?

The short answer is yes… and no.

I absolutely believe paperless is the way to go. There are so many days that I feel powerful having the ability to pull up information, almost all of my information, on any device, anywhere, at any time. I can effortlessly flip through data on my iPad, write a proposal on my laptop, and stream a PowerPoint presentation from the cloud at a client site using their computer.

No, it isn’t easy. Digital tools are a dime a dozen. There always seems to be a tool that offers more crazy whiz-bang features than the one you are using. It is hard choosing, structuring and maintaining but the payoffs are worth it.

 

How Paperless Did I Get?

How much of my paper existence did I manage to transform into paperless?

Well, let’s step into my list of paper stuff that I was working to transform into paperless stuff:

  • Personal notes. 100%. Totally paperless for notes. OneNote is my chosen platform.
  • Project documents. 100%. Totally paperless for documents. Still print a few for clients, but generally create, edit, store, and share documents electronically. Office 365 is a godsend.
  • Receipts. 50%. I still receive a ton of my receipts on paper (okay, I dine out a lot!) and anything I buy at a retail store comes with paper. However, all of my other receipts are paperless and I don’t print them.
  • Forms. 99%. Most forms now come to me digitally. I don’t print them. I fill them out digitally, sign them digitally, and send them digitally. PDF is the chosen format and Adobe Acrobat is my tool. I got the Pro version. Worth the price.
  • Accounting and Legal Documents. 50%. We do all of the heavy lifting generating and reviewing documents electronically, but in the end, there always seems to be a nice pen handed to me to sign a paper copy, or five paper copies.
  • Meeting Agendas, Minutes, and Reports. 100%. I have encouraged all of my Boards and team members to go paperless. As such, all of my Boards now distribute our Board packages through a portal. Electronically. Yum.
  • Books, Magazines, and Manuals. 80%. Books are digital. 5 of 7 magazine subscriptions are digital (this is an issue – I am not enjoying digital magazines), and manuals are all digital (I go to the web and download the manuals I need – paper ones get recycled).
  • Greeting Cards / Thank-You Notes / Tickets. Tickets are at 90% – I still print the odd one for guests to a show – I generally store tickets on my phone. Greeting cards and thank-you notes are 1% – those are best served in paper form with real handwriting.

 

The only paper I receive nowadays is paper that someone else wants to thrust on me. Then I usually try to obtain a paperless copy and get rid of the paper version.

The payoff.  Absolute information power.

The challenge. Hard work to stay organized – both in content and tool set.

Next week I will dig into the challenges and share some success stories.

The paperless journey continues…