How to Go Paperless

Ever wondered how you can go paperless? At LockerGnome.net, Nick Anselmo writes:

Tell me which services/software you use to go paperless. Sign up for ebills? Get everything mailed to you, then scan it? Go online, save PDFs, and use native software, etc.?

How to Go PaperlessGoing paperless with your personal or business documents is a great way to save space, time, and even risk as physical documents are often expensive to protect from dangers like theft and fire. Having a digital copy of your most important documents kept in a secured, remote location is recommended these days, but how do you go about making your home or work environment “paperless?”

Let’s first shed the notion that the term should be taken literally. An office can be paperless and still have a printer and plenty of paper materials sitting out on desks. Sometimes, it’s just easier to have a physical copy of something than to read or reference it from a screen. Some business transactions still require a physical document to complete. Don’t assume that just because your office is capable of running without hard copies that other offices have the same luxury. It’s best to be flexible, but you can still do quite a lot to minimize the physical space your data takes up.

Go Paperless: Useful Services

Finding a service that can help you turn paper documents into digital data can be tricky. Not all services are created equal, and you really should be able to trust that company enough to handle your private documents and receipts without doing a little data mining of its own.

Shoeboxed is one of those few companies that has maintained a fairly stellar reputation for handling personal and business documents. It’s as convenient as sticking receipts in an envelope and mailing them, and the turnaround time isn’t bad. In fact, it does a lot more than scan receipts and other printed materials. It organizes them and makes them available from your PC or mobile device.

Perhaps one of the coolest thing about Shoeboxed is the tax preparation tool that enables you to export your receipt data in a way that is easily transferrable to tax software like TurboTax and QuickBooks.

It doesn’t just accept printed materials, either. You can forward store receipts you receive via email or scanned documents electronically and have them added to the digital cache stored at Shoeboxed. It’s a way to keep all of your documents in one place, safe from any local theft or fire that might put your physical materials at risk.

In addition to Shoeboxed, there are a number of other services that can help you move away from the clutter of a paper-dependent office. For example, Evernote has become a very useful and multi-purpose solution for many personal and professional users hoping to get a handle on their notes, day-to-day goings on, and documents. Evernote acts like a hub for your digital life. It works as a storage and organizational tool in addition to being a fairly useful writing application.

Google Drive, Dropbox, YouSendIt, and other similar services are also extremely useful when it comes to storing and sharing documents without having to run them through a printer. These services are also free, which is a tough price to beat.

Go Paperless: Hardware

While any scanner can help you go paperless by digitizing your printed materials, a printer specially designed to help you convert from a papered office to a paperless system is probably going to save you time and hassle.

Doxie is a line of scanners specially designed to help you go paperless. These scanners take in receipts, photos, and even full-size legal documents with ease. Doxie is considered one of the better solutions out there, with alternatives like NeatDesk also providing a useful solution to users at a fairly reasonable price.

Whether you’re going paperless alone or with a service, just remember that paperless doesn’t have to mean entirely free of printers and copiers. Even the most technologically advanced office out there may occasionally need to print something and mail it to someone. It’s old, outdated technology, but it’s still a way of life for many professionals.

At least you can rest assured that your internal documents don’t have to clutter up your office any longer. You can use those old filing cabinets to do something even more important — like storing all your old gadgets.

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Chris has consistently expressed his convictions and visions outright, supplying practical information to targeted audiences: media agencies, business owners, technology consumers, software and hardware professionals, et al. He remains a passionate personality in the tech community-at-large. He's a geek.