10 Simple Steps To Eliminate Paper

by | Aug 1, 2020 | General Business

10-steps-to-go-paperless

I have a long history in the world of document imaging and workflow. And today, we’re going to dig into this topic with some advice to get rid of your paper. Let’s dive into ten steps you can take to gain control over your paper clutter. This will work at your home and at the office.

One quick note before we begin. There are legal implications to many of the steps we’re going to discuss. Always consult with your lawyer to understand what documents need to be retained in physical format and for what length of time. 

STEP #1: Slow The Paper Flow

Before tackling your scanning project, it’s important to understand where all of your paper is coming from. If you’re able to discontinue receiving physical paper, this will help keep your future scanning to a minimum. This won’t always be possible, but it’s worth investing time to slow down the flow of physical paper.

STEP #2: Determine The Size Of The Project

How much paper do you have to scan? Do you have an entire file room full of paper? Or, do you just have a few banker’s boxes full of paper? If you have a massive project, it can often be more cost-effective to hire a document scanning company to handle this project for you. Otherwise, if it’s manageable, then you’ll be ready to head to step #3 and buy a scanner.

STEP #3: Invest In A Basic Desktop Scanner

Many times you can use a copy machine to scan documents to a PDF. If you don’t have a copy machine, then you’ll want to invest in a scanner. The size of the scanner you need will depend on how much paper you currently have and how much you plan to receive going forward. A simple desktop scanner is generally sufficient for most businesses. 

STEP #4: Prepare Your Paper To Scan

Many scanners and scanner software have the ability to automatically split documents based on something called a patch sheet. This is a sheet of paper with a bar code that you place in the locations where you want a document break. By using these patch sheets, it allows you to scan batches of documents rather than one document at a time.

STEP #5: Scan Time

Once all of your documents are prepped, it’s time to start scanning. There are a million custom features you can configure while scanning, such as image enhancement, optical character recognition (OCR), and more. These can help make pages look better, automatically remove blank pages, and recognize the text on documents so your final document is a searchable PDF.

STEP #6: Confirm Your Documents

After you scan each batch of documents, make sure you do some spot checking of documents to confirm the quality looks acceptable. Generally, 150-200dpi is sufficient, but some people prefer 300dpi for scanning. Do some test scans to confirm which scan quality setting you prefer. 

STEP #7: Back-Up Your Documents

Before you get to the next step where you’re going to shred your physical paper, make sure you back-up your electronic copies of documents. These should be backed-up off-site. And, until documents are backed-up, you shouldn’t proceed to step #8. Something else to consider is holding your physical paper for a period of time (i.e. 30-60 days) before shredding.

STEP #8: Shred Your Papers

Once you’re sure that shredding IS LEGAL, then it’s time to contact a shredding company to come and shred your paper. If doing this at home, and your paper volume is low, it may make sense to pick up a personal shredder. Although, it’s usually more convenient to go to a free shred day at a local bank a couple times per year. 

STEP #9: Continue Scanning New Paper To Stay Paperless

Create a workflow for scanning new paper that comes in the door. If you don’t put a process in place, the paper will stack up again.

STEP #10: Feel The Relief From Being Organized

Doesn’t it feel good to get rid of all that paper?

Ryan has been heavily involved in the world of Information Technology and entrepreneurship since the early 2000s. From small business consulting to Fortune 500 IT leadership, Ryan has a wide array of industry knowledge. He earned his BBA from the University of Iowa in 2004 majoring in Management Information Systems and later earned his MBA from the University of Iowa in 2009 with a focus on Management and Marketing.

Ryan is a published author, having published "Internship Mastery: The Technology Student's Guide To Crushing Your Internship And Launching Your Career" in December 2019.

When he's not spending time with his wife and three young children, you'll find Ryan pounding away at his keyboard, spinning on his Peloton, or listening to a good audiobook or podcast.

Connect with Ryan on Instagram.

Ryan Glick

Ryan has been heavily involved in the world of Information Technology and entrepreneurship since the early 2000s. From small business consulting to Fortune 500 IT leadership, Ryan has a wide array of industry knowledge. He earned his BBA from the University of Iowa in 2004 majoring in Management Information Systems and later earned his MBA from the University of Iowa in 2009 with a focus on Management and Marketing.

Ryan is a published author, having published "Internship Mastery: The Technology Student's Guide To Crushing Your Internship And Launching Your Career" in December 2019.

When he's not spending time with his wife and three young children, you'll find Ryan pounding away at his keyboard, spinning on his Peloton, or listening to a good audiobook or podcast.

Connect with Ryan on Instagram.

Ryan Glick