They say the secret to becoming a super productive person is to cultivate a desire to get the most done with the least amount of effort.
As it turns out, necessity isn’t the mother of invention; laziness is. I’ll vouch for that. If I could figure out how to acquire Samantha Steven’s ability to get work done by wiggling my nose, I’d be all over it. So as you’re reading this post – wherein I extol the virtuous reasons for reducing paper, such as saving trees, and sending less waste to landfills – know that what’s driving me away from paper is actually sloth in the pursuit of efficiency.
Having gone digital, I love not wasting time sifting through stacks of paper to gather all the pieces of a project I’m working on. I love not having to push aside piles of documents to make room for a colleague who’s come into my office to collaborate. And I especially love it when I can locate the info I want – instantly – by accessing my favourite digital note keeper and keying in a few words.
Right there, that’s enough saved effort to keep me on the digital path. But just to be thorough, here are some additional advantages to leaving paper behind:
- Less visual clutter feels great.
- If you tend to be a messy worker, reducing paper will make it look like you saw the light and mended your piggy ways.
- You’ll save a tree. Or two.
- You’ll never forget to do something because a sticky note fell behind your desk when you weren’t looking.
- You’ll spend less money on paper, ink, and toner.
- Your office and home will be neater.
- Stuff – the things you write on all those bits of paper – will actually be findable when you switch to a digital tool.
- You’ll make fewer trips to the recycling bin.
- Your office could save thousands each year on rent if you didn’t need all that square footage to house filing cabinets filled with paper that no one ever looks at.
Making The Paperless Transition
So how does one make the transition away from paper? I started small. Each day I scanned my meeting notes into my laptop and I discarded the originals. With the latest version of Adobe reader, you can even annotate your notes later if you think of additional bits to add. If you absolutely must bring your paper notes to a follow up meeting, print the scanned document, hand write your new notes during the meeting right on the same pages, and send them through the scanner once again.
Digital Tools To The Rescue
Evernote is a wonderful digital filing cabinet. It’s much better than using the Microsoft office suite of programs. You can find anything in a matter of seconds just by typing in one or two key words. If you use the desktop version, you don’t even need a live internet connection to access or add to your files. Evernote will sync across all your devices seamlessly. And it’s free. If Evernote doesn’t appeal to you, you can try Springpad, Google Keep, or Intellinote (still in beta). All are free.
Virtual Sticky Notes
Can’t give up sticky notes? No problem. Switch to digital stickies. You may not know this, but Microsoft ships this program with Windows. The picture next to this text is a screen shot of several stickies that are living on my desktop right now. Here’s a link to help you start working with digital sticky notes today.
A Special Nod To Recruiters
Recruiters are notorious for loving to bring hard copy resumes into the interview room to receive notes during the meeting. If that works for you, then don’t stop doing it. However, do try to scan the scribbled-on resume into your applicant tracking system immediately following the interview. This will ensure your notes don’t live in a pile on your desk, inaccessible to you and anyone else. Just for kicks, you might consider bringing your laptop into the meeting room instead of that paper resume. If you can touch type, you’ll be able to maintain better eye contact than you can while writing on paper.
People who know me think I use my digital tools only because I love technology. But now you know — I just like getting things done the easy way.
Let me know if you try any of these techniques or tools. What worked for you — and what didn’t work?