Simple Tip for a Paperless Office

Looking at Mashable’s recent post 5 Simple Tools for a Paperless Office, it struck me that they left out something very important. You have to engineer your business processes to stop generating new paper.

So my simple tip is don’t have a printer.

Okay, so this might be total craziness for some of you (okay, most of you), but I tried it for six months. Here was the result.

  • Since the printer wasn’t convenient, I relied completely on paperless options. I created documents as PDF files and did many of the same things that the Mashable article suggests.
  • I had access to a printer at home, just not at my office. So if I really needed to print, I printed to a print queue. By removing the instant gratification of printing, I found that instead of printing 3-5 versions of a document, I would barely need to print the final version.
  • Documents for clients were provided as PDF files. If the client wanted a hard copy, they could print as many as they wanted. If they handed me a copy, I turned it down and used my PDF file on my laptop.
  • After six months, I found that I needed the scanner more than the printer. So I purchased a multi-function printer/scanner. One year later, I have yet to go through the first ream of paper. I noticed that my processes are now designed to shred and recycle paper.

Before you toss your printer out the window, try this. Take the paper out of the tray. Just add a small bit of friction to the process and you might be surprised at how few things you really need to print.