Now, more than ever before, it is quite possible for anyone to go 100% paperless. Here’s how I did it (to the point of not owning a pen anymore):
1. Buy an electronic device.
Handle your note-taking, to-dos, projects and other miscellaneous work without trees and ink. If you have an iPad or laptop, there is no reason for owning a notepad. There was a transition phase that I needed to go through in order to feel completely comfortable without paper; this involved migrating my notes to the laptop and pawning off the hundreds of pens sitting in my desk drawer. Once the cleanse finished, I never looked back.
2. Scan your tax forms.
I use an app called Scannable to upload everything to my Google Drive. It’s free too! I am of the belief that your tax forms take up the bulk of your paper trail – once you clear all of that away, everything will seem less overwhelming. As the government is now accepting paperless returns, it’s safe to follow suit with electronic documentation.
3. Destroy old receipts.
Similar to the tax forms, just scan the essentials and throw away.
4. One-touch rule.
Don’t look at a piece of paper unless you plan to handle it on the spot. Make sure it leaves your hands, never to be seen again, once you touch it. One-touch requires discipline and focus – start with a “later” pile until you feel comfortable with on-the-fly one-touches.
5. Read eBooks.
Every book on your shelf should be donated to someone who will actually read it. If you must, keep up to five of your frequently referenced books.
6. Ask for email receipts.
Opt out of taking receipts at the cashier till. Your bank statements will show you everything you need to know. Companies keep your receipt information on file in case you ever need to dispute errors.
7. Grab a garbage bag or shredder.
Obvious solution. Throw away your old schoolwork, it’s collecting dust. Trust me when I say you will never look at it again. Stop holding onto those old bank statements – shred the sensitive data.
8. Stop printing business cards.
I will write a completely separate article on the death of business cards. For now, my advice is to use LinkedIn instead.
Tackle the paper trail relentlessly, in chunks. Your mind will thank you for it.