Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Working Smarter: Make Your Office a Paper-free Zone


When I received an SMS message from the Abu Dhabi Police, I was a little surprised. It was in Arabic, so I couldn't read it, but I quickly had it interpreted and it was a reminder that my motor vehicle registration was due to expire soon. I was pleasantly surprised. Surprised that a country that is incredibly paper bound in some areas, is doing something to overcome paper warfare and move gradually to electronic communications in others. It certainly doesn't happen in my home country, Australia.
In Australia, registration renewal still arrives in the mail, although some jurisidctions are moving towards email notifications.
This got me to thinking about the work I had done to make my home-based business (and the rest of my life) as paper free as possible and details of those strategies follow.
Central to this activity is Adobe PDF as you'll see.
Electronic Communications
I've streamlined my marketing and general communication activities to the extent that I rarely produce a communication in hard copy format. I've eliminated postage, envelopes, paper and having to line up at the post office by doing almost everything via email, telephone or electronic fax.
My account with an Australian-based fax service provider means that I can email a fax anywhere in the world 24/7 from my laptop. When it's sent, I receive an email advising me whether it was successfully transmitted and the time. I delete these, but they could be used as receipts. Similarly, faxes sent to me using my fax number arrive at my desktop as Adobe PDF files.
I can print them if I need to, but usually don't. When I have actioned them I either delete them or save them to an external hard disk drive used specifically for that purpose.
Paper-based Documentation
After reading Internet marketing guru, Ken Silver's blog about paper free offices, I've invested in a scanner that scans to Adobe PDF. Any hardcopy document that arrives and needs to be saved eg, for taxation purposes, I scan and then shred the original. This is about as paper free as it gets.
I've arranged with as many organisations as possible to access my bills, invoices etc, electronically. Almost all of my banking is done online and I no longer subscribe to paper-based catalogues or other advertising media.
Digital Filing
With the exception of the occasional document that can't be retained in digital format, I file everything on an external 280 GB hard disk drive I can take wherever I go. Periodically I back up the data to a DVD disk and file it. At the end of the financial year I download data for that year to a CD-RW and file it.
All my files are in related folders and are similarly named eg, my monthly Visa Statement is filed as2012- VISASEP06.pdf. By using a filing and naming convention, it means I can find things faster, order them in ascending or descending order and so on.
Conclusion
If you are sick to death of being bombarded with paper, as I was, make your life as paper free as possible by following some of the procedures I have adopted. Once you get set up and into the hang of it, you'll be glad you did.
Robin

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