Going Paperless is Easier Than You Think, We Swear
May 10, 2019
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Going paperless can eliminate clutter and take some stress out of your life. Why pass up a chance to do things more easily and efficiently? Streamline your workflow with a few simple adjustments, and you can throw out the filing cabinet for good.
As modern Americans, we have too much paper in our lives. Bills, important documents, books, magazines, recipes, correspondence - not only does it take a toll on the environment, it clutters our lives.
Clutter breeds stress, stress causes inflammation, and inflammation causes weight gain. So in essence, paper makes you fat. No, not really, but it is a daily irritant, and as stressful as life can be, who passes up an opportunity to simplify?
Going paperless doesn't require a complete system change as long as you own a computer (and since you're reading this on the internet...), and most people can get by with minimal software. Even the software is available in a huge range of prices and functionality, and the most basic stuff is available for free. Just give it a try, and you'll never look back.
Embrace online bill paying. It's not new, it's everywhere, and it does work.
In fact, some companies actually charge a premium for paper statements at this point, so going full online can actually save you a couple of bucks. Set up online account access with your bank - sometimes you can do this online, other banks require you to do it in person at a branch office.
Most utilities and credit card companies offer online bill paying, and allow you to opt out of receiving paper statements at all. In many cases, you can link the billing to your online bank account so the payment happens automatically and is never late.
If a company doesn't include online payment as part of their services, they need to leap into the 21st century. No worries though, because you can arrange electronic bill payment through your online bank account.
Documents like contracts, release forms, etc. that require a signature are a funny case.
The Documents are created on a computer, printed out and given to you to sign, then given back to the creator, who then scans them back into the computer and in many cases, ditches the paper copy.
Cut to the chase with apps like DocuSign, which allow the creator of the document to email it to you, you sign it electronically, and email it back.
Paper doesn't enter the picture, and you both have identical, electronic, date-stamped copies, no scanning or snail-mail required. And it's secure. There's a whole market of document signing apps, and some of the web-based ones are even free.
We all love our books, and no one would ever suggest converting a life's collection into ones and zeroes by scanning each and every page. But consider making future book purchases ebooks.
They take up way less room (and are much easier to pack when you move), are way more portable, and in many cases, way cheaper. You don't even need a Kindle or Nook - there are ebook reader apps available for iPad and iPhone, and even your computer.
Plenty of people are hesitant about giving up real-life books, but can we at least agree on magazines? Magazines are meant to be temporary, and they're not as beautiful as old books. They just don't have the same appeal. Most end up in the garbage after a couple of weeks anyway.
Cancel your subscription and read your favorite magazines online - some require a paid subscription to access the full site, but it's almost always much less than a paper subscription. The big national magazines even have free apps for smartphones and tablets, allowing you instant access to the newest issue as soon as it hits newsstands.
What about all those other papers that crowd your filing cabinets and desk cubbies? There's an app for that. Actually, there are tons.
You're looking for a database app like Bento, DEVONthink and Paperless - basically a repository for all of your stuff. You can scan actual paper documents into the app to be saved for posterity, and you can save computer files or web pages for easy accessibility.
You set up categories and "file" each document like you do with a filing cabinet, but here's the best part - the whole thing is searchable. So when you're looking for that Costco receipt from 2004, you type "Costco 2004" into the box and it pops right up.
Much easier than slogging through shoeboxes of faded thermal paper. Same thing for recipes, and if you use cloud computing, those recipes are accessible from your smartphone or tablet so you don't have to bring your laptop into the kitchen.
It's a bit of a pain getting it all set up, especially if you're scanning all your back documents. But once you reach maintenance phase it's smooth sailing, and you'll suddenly have a ton of empty drawer space!