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How to Create a Paperless Home Office

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There are several great reasons to go paperless in your home office; you’ll save money by not buying as many paper products, your office will be free of paper clutter, and you’ll be doing the environment a huge kindness by keeping it paper-free, just to name a few. Creating a paperless home office may sound like an overwhelming task at first, but if you allow yourself some transition time and take it step-by-step, you’ll have a paper-free office before you know it. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you get the job done.

Sort, Organise, and Toss

The first step to going paperless is to sort out and organise the paper you do have. Separate them into piles according to what they are–receipts, bills, bank statements, email communications, court documents, and tax returns, for some examples. Once you have everything sorted and organised, toss out the papers you no longer need. Papers containing sensitive data such as account numbers, national insurance numbers, or other private information should be fed through a shredder before going to the recycling bin. Original documents and other papers that you must keep should be placed neatly into separate folders, labeled, and stored in a safe place within your office.

Scan Important Papers

Papers that contain information you need but aren’t original documents that you need to save can be scanned onto your computer and then disposed of properly. You’ll free up a lot of space in your home office and reduce the amount of clutter by scanning in the current papers you need to keep for your records.

Create a Digital Filing System

Replace your old filing cabinet with a digital one right on your home office computer. Create individual files for your different types of papers, dragging and dropping your scanned files into their appropriate folders. Label the folders and organize them so that the information stored in them is easy to find.

Back It Up

It’s not enough to merely scan in your important papers and store them on your computer. Computer files can be lost due to computer malfunction, fire, burglary, or any number of unexpected disasters, so it’s critical that you back them up. Back-up storage options include internet storage sites, external hard drives, flash drives, CD’s, and DVD’s. The amount of information you need to store will help you determine which back-up storage type will best suit your needs.

Utilize Paperless Programs and Apps

There are an endless number of programs and apps for all of your digital devices that can help you reduce the amount of paper you use in your home office. You can use digital programs and apps to create to-do lists, take notes, share and send files, organize files, communicate with clients or customers, bookmark and store information, and so much more. What’s even better? Many of these helpful programs and apps can be downloaded for free.

Request Paperless Billing

Cut down on the amount of paper you receive in the mail by requesting paperless billing. That way bills will be sent to you via email, reducing the amount of paper coming through your office. If you run a business that requires you to bill customers for products and services, you, too, should consider offering paperless billing. You will find that there are some businesses that don’t offer it, and not all billed customers will want to take advantage of that option. Still, all efforts to reduce paper bills will free up space and cut down on unnecessary waste.

Even though going paperless in your home office takes some time and getting used to, you’ll notice the positive differences it will make right away – no matter how small they might be at first. By creating a paperless home office you’ll have more space, less mess, and you’ll preserve some of our planet’s most precious resources

This guest post is from Casey Lynch. Casey writes about home insurance for HomeInsurance.org.

About the author: Paper Free Invoices started out as a small blog for my invoicing software business Paper Free Billing but has morphed into something much more useful. I’ve really enjoyed reading the guest articles and speaking with guest publishers so much so I’m always looking for talented bloggers to contribute. If you have any questions or feedback on this article, please find your voice in the comment section, we will try to answer every genuine comment!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Andrew

    How hard is it to go paperless? It would seem like a daunting task as you get used to one thing for so many years and then you have to change it up so abruptly.

  • Phyllis Moore

    Scanning documents is an excellent idea. That is something I had not considered before. I will try this.

    What has helped me greatly is being very sparing with what I print from the computer. For instance, I haven’t printed any emails for years; I can’t even remember when the last time I did so. I have gotten used to reading pretty much everything online or on the computer, accordingly. And what needs to be saved, I file and backup as you suggest.

  • Lynnette

    Just last week I was looking at my pile of stuff and thinking that surely I could get rid of some of the paper. We’re in a modern digital age, but I am still attached to having that hard copy of important documents. On the other hand, I do like the idea of a less cluttered home office. It would also be nice to kill a few less trees. I am going to try your idea of scanning documents and then digitally filing them. Thanks so much for the great tips!

  • sha2814

    These are some great ideas! Having a home officer of my own, I know how easy it is to be buried in piles of paper. Over the years, I implemented many of these tactics to ‘free my space.’
    Andrew, it is not really hard to transition to paperless. In fact, you are in control of the changes you make so it is not as abrupt as you think. You could easily set up the transition process over a period of time. For example, take one day (or week) to scan your receipts and organize them on your computer. This will most likely take a bit of time to get everything in order. The next week could be used to set up paperless billing on your accounts and so on.
    Change may not be easy but it is so worth it in this case.