Have you ever heard the expression, Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill? While this saying is usually used to help us deal with the troubles in our lives, I like to apply it to paper … which can definitely be a trouble for many of us.
If we’re not mindful of all those pieces of paper that come at us, they’ll stack up into bigger and bigger piles and before you know it, we’re surrounded by mountains of paper.
Lucky for you, I’m going to share with you 3 simple steps you can take right now that will make a huge difference in how you manage all your paper. You’ll see immediate results and you’ll have conquered those mountains once and for all.
Here are 3 simple steps to help move you and your business closer to paperless:
Step 1 – Stop it.
This first step is crucial to your success. You need to stop paper in its tracks, before it makes it into a pile on you desk. Remember, those seemingly innocent piles can quickly grow. You need two things to stop that from happening: a shredder and a recycle bin. Keep these two things close at hand … ideally in the area where you sort your mail and go through your paperwork. Anything that isn’t relevant gets recycled or shredded right away. (Shred things that have personal information on them, like your name and address). The important stuff either goes into your To Do folder to deal with later or your To Scan folder (I’ll talk about this one in the next step.) If you don’t have these folders made up yet, do it now before you go on to Step 2.
Step 2 – Scan it.
With the important papers in the appropriate folders (To Do and To Scan) it’s now time to do something with them. In the old days, you’d just let them hang out on your desk until they drove you crazy (at least that’s what I did). But the new you is going to spend an hour a week, scanning and filing all these papers … and then (say it with me) … shredding them. So fire up whatever scanner you have. I use the scanner that’s part of my printer. It’s slow, but it works for now. (I have my eye on a snappy new scanner, but more on that in another blog post.)
Step 3 – Store it.
Now that you have all those paper documents in digital form it’s time to do something with them, otherwise you’ll just have one big digital mess on your hands. Now is the time to file all these documents away for safe keeping. Some scanners come with filing software that will help you with this process. Mine doesn’t so I scan it into a PDF document, name it and file it in the appropriate folder on my computer’s hard drive. Now, I know some of you cringed at the thought of shredding paper documents. I know this is really difficult and for many (including myself) it might be best to phase it in. So if this is the case, don’t feel bad, just commit to putting the paper into your filing cabinet right away.
So there you have it. Three simple steps to get you started down the road to becoming a lean, mean, paperless machine. Trust me, you’ll feel great after you’re done. You’ll be more in control of your documents and your work. More importantly, you’ll have a lot of energy, since you’ll no longer need to climb all those paper mountains!
How do you deal with all the paper that comes into your office (and your life)? Any tips and tricks you’d like to share? If so, add your comments below and join the conversation.