Going paperless has been the “in” thing for the past 15 years or so. But, why is it taking so long to get there? My opinion is that being overwhelmed by where to start, as well as age-old habits, are preventing the adoption of a paperless environment. So I am going to dedicate my next few blogs posts to overcoming some of those obstacles.
Eliminating paper from coming into your environment is one of the first big hurdles. To do that, you have to identify where the paper comes from. Mail is usually the worst offender. So, start determining what you get in the mail that is actually important and begin moving those things to an electronic environment.
What’s In Your Mail
In order of importance, mail usually consists of:
- Checks – Most companies these days will work with you in some form of e-payment. MightyData uses Bill.com which ties into QuickBooks. Pretty cool! You can accept PayPal, credit cards, ACH or electronic checks through similar programs. (Some companies will balk and say that the physical checks they cut in their offices are their checks/balances to make sure that the right people have seen it. We could come up with solutions to that, but internal processes are a whole other area to tackle. So, let that part remain their problem and work to solve yours. Ask your customer to enter the check information from the bottom into the online payment area rather than mailing the check to you.)
- Bills – Almost all companies will happily send you electronic invoices or set you up for automatic payments. The automatic payments are especially nice for utility-type bills. Again, MightyData uses bill.com to manage payments as well, also tying into QuickBooks. Your vendor simply sends the bill to a designated email and the invoice/bill shows up for you to pay.
- Contracts – There are many electronic signature options these days. MightyData uses EchoSign.com. I did all the paperwork for purchasing my house through a digital signature software. The legal aspect is covered using almost all of those online services.
- Magazines/Journals – Cancel the paper subscriptions and subscribe online. You can read where and when you are able; it reduces clutter, and allows for searching on the topics you want to read. That last one even helps you manage your time better.
- Ads and Junk Mail – Just throw all that straight into the recycling bin. If you have eliminated the other 4 items, this part should be a breeze to sort through and discardwithin minutes of receipt.
If you start your quest by eliminating the incoming paper, the next steps will become less overwhelming.
If you receive other mail items that you don’t know how to handle, drop me a comment and I will help you brainstorm ways to get rid of those as well. And, watch for my next post on Step 2 Digital Folders.