Experiments in going paperless

Since the start of the year I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of paper that I use at work.  Following a ruthless clear out in December I had already made significant inroads to the amount of paper that I was storing.  (It would be inaccurate to describe the way that I tend to hold paper as ‘filing’.)

A stack of copy paper.

Anyway, over the past few weeks I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share.

Firstly, it is possible to dramatically reduce the paper that we consume.  Instead of automatically hitting the print button, I now pause to think how best to read, action, store the information.

Secondly, by using my iPad to take notes in meetings, the turnaround time for circulating notes, allocating tasks and reviewing meetings has improved significantly.

One key lesson that I have learned – and now need to address – is that I need to be clear about workflow.  How to transfer information to my iPad, back to the office server, what file structures to use etc, etc?  Clarifying this will (I hope) help me to automate these activities and improve the whole process.

I have also discovered that there are times when the ‘linear’ nature of electronic note-taking is not conducive to generating ideas and making connections.  So, I have found myself using the whiteboard in my office (even) more frequently.  However, this does have limitations – the whiteboard is fixed to a wall and my mind works slowly, so sometimes it’s good to have something that can be updated over time.  So – starting today – I’m going to reintroduce a paper notebook for capturing and developing ideas more ‘organically’.

Overall I’m pleased with progress so far, although there is some fine-tuning to do.  How about you?  Have you tried (or succeeded) with a paperless approach?  Any tips that you’d like to share?

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