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Monday, December 10, 2012

2013: Reducing my (paper) footprint

I have many goals for 2013:  some big, some small, some well planned out, some just sort of coming to me.  One that has been brewing for a few weeks now has to do with how I handle information, both personally and professionally.  Simply put, I want to dramatically reduce the amount of paper I handle, manage and store.


Well this particular initiative was more or less born at work, but it makes plenty of sense to apply it at home as well.  We've talked in the office about reducing our printing costs.  Now this isn't an enormous amount of money, but if we can save a few hundred dollars in our office by using electronic documents instead of printing out paper, then why not?  The more I have thought about it, the more ridiculous the whole paper culture thing becomes; in many instances, I was printing paper to read maybe once or twice then simply throwing it away.

Now making this change works for me on a couple of different levels:
  • I don't like waste (a.k.a. I am cheap)
  • I like to be environmentally friendly
  • I like using technology (and I have lots of it)
  • I want to do whatever I can do to help my employer's success
So why not?  If my mission is to reduce my paper footprint, then I need a few strategies to make this happen.  Here's some of what I'm going to do.

Up until fairly recently, my laptop has been more a desktop than anything else.  Yes, I would take it home, but outside of my office and my backpack, it was pretty much stationary.  Not any more.  For example, when I get an agenda for a meeting, I'm saving it in a desktop folder and bringing the laptop with me to the meeting.  From there, I am taking meeting notes on documents themselves storing them on my personal network drive.

I'm also slowly but surely going to scan important documents to pdf files where it's something I do receive in paper but want to retain.

Now there are some things that I am going to continue to keep in paper, such as travel receipt copies.  I am going to keep a notebook for ad hoc notes and phone messages.

All told?  I think I can easily reduce my paper usage at work by about 80%.

I am actually better about managing paper at home, believe it or not.  Where I do maintain paper, such as keeping receipts from bills I've paid, I am going to start using my flatbed scanner to convert them to pdf files.  There are some thing that I want to continue to keep in paper, such as printed out tax forms, but that's all material that can be archived in a storage box.

I know, the above is something of a yawner, but that's okay, as it doesn't take that much to amuse me.

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