This is my office.
I did not clean it up for this article. I now function without paper. I’ll never go back to paper and I believe if you give this a try you won’t either.
I am sharing with you why I went paperless and how I did it with the hope that you too will discover the increased productivity and reduced stress that I have found by changing how I do things.
To make reading easier and faster, I am writing this article as a series in three parts:
Part 1 Why I Went Paperless: There Had to Be a Better Way (Includes my goals)
Part 2 How I Went Paperless: What I Use (My hardware and software)
Part 3 Workflow: Putting It all Together (Includes workflow diagrams)
Part 1: Why I Went Paperless--There Had to Be a Better Way
I lead a large school on two campuses with 200 employees, nearly 2,000 students, 1,200 families, and with a multimillion dollar budget. I also have many complex projects in process simultaneously. For example, as I write this we are designing a new science and math building, preparing for a large capital campaign and continuing the rollout of our 1:1 computing program that we callLearning Unleashed. And of course there are the daily operational issues covering personnel, academics and curriculum, parent and student issues, athletics, facilities, admissions, finance, marketing, and a host of other day to day matters.
Adding to the mix are my family responsibilities, teaching adult Sunday School, teaching a graduate course as an adjunct professor, conference presentations, and my personal goals such as completing a book and writing this blog. I have many balls in the air, thousands of documents, and even more emails (over 1,200 work related emails per month), phone calls, meetings, and messages to manage.
I was finding it difficult to quickly locate what I needed when I needed it and even more difficult to manage the combination of paper and digital documents and communications related to projects and day-to-day matters. I knew that there had to be a way to consolidate all of this information so that I could be both more productive and less stressed. Going paperless has helped me achieve those goals.
Although being more productive and less stressed were my primary goals, there were also many secondary but important goals motivating the change. Here is my list of goals that explain why I forced myself to go paperless.
- Increase productivity by being able to find any document or message from any device, anytime, anyplace.
- Have one central “inbox” for everything that I receive so that I can quickly process it.
- Become more efficient by speeding up my workflow.
- Improve the ability to collaborate with my colleagues and associates anywhere in the world.
- Have automatic backups of all of my documents, communications, research, and books in the event of hardware failure, fire, or natural catastrophe.
- Be able to take notes in my many meetings and instantly have them saved and available for retrieval and sharing as needed.
- Be able to easily convert meeting notes into tasks for myself or others.
- Manage people and projects so that nothing falls through the cracks and to ensure that I am on top of all projects.
- Manage my calendar and schedule so that it does not manage me.
- Have an archive of all documents and communications for future reference should they be needed for projects or legal matters.
- Reduce the cost of printing, filing, and mailing.
- Eliminate filing cabinets and free up space.
- Reduce paper to be more environmentally responsible.
- Have a clutter free low stress work space.
In part two of this series I will explain how I went paperless and what hardware and software I use.