25 Responses to “The Possibility of Paperless”


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  1. Sam

    I’ve gone almost 100% paperless in my business as well. The one place I’ve experienced that seems to be a paper hell, though, is education (on both sides of the desk). When I was teaching I was aghast at the level of paper I and the rest of the school consumed. There’s also no easy way (right now, at least), for teachers to be more paperless.

    It’s getting a little bit better in higher education as most professors seem to make everything available online but a surprising number still want you to print everything off. We’re heading in the right direction but some industries have further to go than others.

    • Courtney Carver

      Sam, I’ve been out of school for a long time but I am sure you are right. My daughter in high school seems to have more digital assignments, but certainly a bunch of paper too. As more resources become available hopefully it will be easier to transition.

  2. Great tips, Courtney! I’m definitely going to try some.

    I’m in a job with a lot of meetings. I’ve been trying to take my notes on my laptop as much as possible. It’s a bit of an adjustment. For the people I’m meeting with too. I don’t know why scribbling notes seems less distracting that typing.

    • Courtney Carver

      Kelly, I typically take paper notes in meetings and think that our brains process information differently when we are writing/doodling compared to typing. The notes are usually to inform a next step so my recommendation is to immediately take the most important part of your note taking and email it to yourself or add to a digital document. Then toss the notes. I noticed that I rarely looked back at notes, and if I waited more than a day, I forgot what my scribbles were all about.

  3. Sam, you are so right! I teach special education and have a daughter who is both a special education and Head Start student. The paper just multiplies! What gets me is that weds everything online, but we have to print multiple copies. I really wish the Feds and state would get on board with reducing paper…

  4. Candice

    I adore online banking and bill paying. I have all my bank statements and bills sent to my email with the exception of our local utilities (small town that won’t offer that convenience, yet). What paper that still comes to our home (there always seems to be something) I shred and add to our compost heap. I’m working on my husband who is old-school – that man can generate some paper!

  5. Marissa

    I guess you don’t work in a law office. ;)

  6. Bill M

    And then the hard drive dies. I have started to digitize quite a bit of my paper, but I doubt I can ever be 100%. Paperless was the big thing when PCs first started to become available. Then paper use soared because people could then print things as never before.

  7. Wow Courtney! This is a gold mine of tactics to get the paper out of all parts of your life. I thought I was a pretty savvy paper reducer and eliminator but it looks like I have a ways to go.

    I now know what the first article will be when the word “paperless” pops into my head. I’m sharing this far and wide because this deserves to be read by a lot of folks.

  8. Lisa

    Courtney, thanks for the great resources. I just opened a Workflowy account and I’m already in serious like. There is even an android app!
    Shoeboxed also looks interesting but I have one question…will I be able to use the scanned receipt if I need to exchange or return an item?

    • Tracy

      for the items you are not sure about, why not hold onto those receipts until you know for sure that you are keeping the item?

  9. wow – i started with workflowy and i’m impressed – much better that this Excel files. Just cool and simple.
    thanks for sharing

  10. Eric

    Courtney, I have reduced my life down to the bare bones and recently find myself involved with a girl who has “everything” and wants to simplify. When I pick up her mail at the post office, instead of just “Dump(ing) the junk mail, catalogs and anything that you didn’t give permission to receive” into the recycle bin at the post office, I remove the contact information and have been going to battle with getting her removed from the catalogs, magazines, adds etc. I wanted to not just clean up what comes into my home, but also reduce the impact on our resources if possible. Keep up the good work.

  11. Wow, this is a phenomenal reference list. I didn’t even know some of these things existed! I’m just starting my own little business, so knowing about these resources from the beginning will be really helpful. There are also a lot of things here I can apply to my everyday life. I hate feeling weighed down by all that wasteful paper use. Thanks!

  12. This topic fascinates me. I’ve been trying to figure out how to go paperless, and I didn’t realize these options existed. I have huge file cabinets full of decades of paperwork. I’ve been afraid of discarding things like tax returns and home improvement receipts.

    My biggest concern about paperless is privacy. I haven’t signed up with individual providers for electronic delivery of statements because email attachments are not secure. Manilla seems to solve this, but how long has Manilla been around? What if they go belly-up overnight?

    I think I might ease into Manilla with an account or two. And try the catalog thing to get rid of some junk mail. Thank you, Courtney, for the inspiration and the practical next steps.

  13. Some great resources here. I’m based in the UK and Manilla is US only right now – does anyone know if there’s a European equivalent? I just did a quick Google but couldn’t see anything.

  14. I am trying to be “paperless” in my new law practice. I am required (by law) to keep certain paper documents on file, but all other paper gets scanned immediately and discarded. Anything that is not discarded is returned to clients.

    Thank you for introducing me to Manilla. I was looking for something like that and it could not have been easier to sign up! I don’t know, I am just not that concerned with privacy. Maybe I am cruisin for a bruisin. :)

  15. I long for a paperless world. In the storage unit I inherited after my father died, I have boxes upon boxes of old legal briefs, old calendars, old tax statements, old report cards … 58 years of accumulated paper work! Unfortunately, that’s the stuff I have to save because I don’t know what we might need for legal reasons.

  16. When my family moved into an RV last spring, I knew we were going to have to go paperless or face paying to store boxes of paper. We turned all of our old records – including tax ones – into digital copies that are now safely stored and much easier to find than before.

    When I go to other people’s house and come across drawers and counters overflowing with papers and envelopes, I am so grateful we took the time to go completely paperless!

  17. et

    You can also contact companies/organizations that send catalogs, junk mail & letters directly and tell them to take you off their lists.

  18. I like the idea of being paperless but I haven’t figured out how to use “The Cloud.” I don’t have a “smart” phone just laptop. I don’t need to sync, just have lots of files to back up externally and would love it if it was done automatically. Thanks for the resources. Something to check into further, if the cloud can be trusted…

    We have a paper sorter for members of family, including box for today (must be dealt with today). The paper sorter is nestled closely above our recycling box, shredder, and trash can. I used to look at mail once a week but now I like to take care of it right away.

  19. Great suggestions Courtney definitely some food for thought there. I like the idea of Manilla will check that out.

  20. Marina Morais

    Great post! Be paperless is one of my goals, but it also a dilemma for me. Transfer paper to digital makes me more dependent on electronics, and since another goal is to be less dependent on the electronic, the virtual, I don’t know if it was just a transfer of addictions. How can I balance these two factors?

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