Part of Going Paperless Series which provides tips, tools, processes and resources to make the journey to a paperless office or home easier.
Whether you run a business in your home or you’re a home maker trying to get rid of all those stacks of bills and papers, going to a paperless at home can not only help you keep better track of your personal files better but can increase the security of your private information and documents.
No More Paper Hoarding
Let’s face it, when we get bills in by mail, they’re looked at and then either thrown in a pile or stored in our home office for “future records,” but in reality not very many of us will ever have the need to pull up a utility bill from 1996. The first step towards going paperless in your home is to begin dwindling down that pile of old bills and invoices. Of course, it’s important to hang on to documents like birth certificates, old W2’s (maybe) but the rest can all be shredded and if it’s slightly important, can be scanned onto your computer and stored during the transition process.
Getting Rid of Paper Mail and Bills
One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of paper in your home is to stop receiving paper mail. Find out which of your bills can be received by email. Items like bank statements and phone bills almost always give you the option to go paperless. Find out what vendors you’re using that allow this, and completely eliminate these bills. Just don’t forget to check your email. In addition, most countries have opt-out services where you can yourself removed from mailing lists so you can (hopefully) stop receiving junk mail and credit card offers.
Scanning Personal Files and Documents
In order to begin storing your personal files and records in a digital format like a PDF you will have to start scanning any documents you wish to keep. While your home scanner may function well, without the proper equipment this part of the process can become extremely time consuming, especially if you’re the type of person who wants to retain every single piece of paper you have, just in case. You can search online to find organization and filing software that will help you go paperless by allowing you to easily locate and access any of the files you’ve scanned or saved.
When you start the scanning your files, figure out a plan to keep everything organized. Whether you organize by vendor/store or by category (receipts, invoices, etc) make sure you’re prepared when you start. Begin scanning all of your receipts, utility bills and anything else that you feel you might need in the future. When scanning, make sure to have the documents saved in a PDF format so that they can be safely stored and recovered when you need them.
Once you’ve completed the process and have everything you want to save scanned to the computer, you will need to either store that information on your hard drive or you can store it online using storage companies like DropBox. Make sure that you hang on to paper copies f documents like tax returns and anything that you absolutely cannot risk losing, and shred the remaining documents to start getting rid of excess paper.
Paperless at home is not a far off goal… Simply you need to begin with the small steps!