Paper is quite inefficient. It’s not searchable, short of rifling through big stacks of long-forgotten documents trying to find that one piece of paper you remember collecting many months ago. Here's a few ways of embracing a paperless office so your business can operate much more efficiently.
5 tools to create a paperless office
One of the biggest sources of needless paper are contracts, and there’s no reason you have to keep them once you’ve signed them. There is a reason: it’s a legal document that binds you and the co-signer to specific terms and deliverables. But there’s no reason to keep a printed copy when an electronic copy will suffice.
You can avoid getting a hard copy of a contract if you start by signing a PDF copy of the document electronically. And you can add an electronic signature to a PDF with Adobe Acrobat Reader, but it’s just a little box that more or less says “this is my authorized electronic signature,” and people get nervous about that. Those are legally binding and acceptable, because you actually have to give Acrobat Reader permission to create it. But there are plenty of people who think that’s not a real signature, and so they won’t accept it. Instead, they want you to print, sign, scan and email the document back to them. So instead, you can use the DocuSign app to help maintain a paperless office.
2. Evernote’s Scannable app
Sometimes people will hand you a document you need to keep, whether it’s a worksheet, important memo or a meeting agenda.
First of all, be sure to ask the person giving you the document whether they can send you an electronic copy instead. Then, you can store those somewhere, add a few keywords into the document title, and then search for them later. But if they can’t do that, use Evernote’s Scannable app to take a picture of your documents, convert them to PDF, and then store them later.
You can also use Scannable to scan business cards and convert them to Evernote documents. And as an added bonus, you can set it up so Evernote will send your contact information and basic LinkedIn details back to the person whose card you just scanned.
The only problem with scanning business cards via Scannable is that you can’t always push that contact information back out to where you want it. For example, there’s no elegant solution to push newly scanned business cards to Google Contacts on an iPhone.
In that case you can use workflow automation tools like If This Then That (IFTTT), and then use a combination of If This Then That (IFTTT.com), and a contact app called FullContact to sync your newly-scanned contacts between iOS Contacts, Google Contacts and the FullContact app.
4. OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox
Of course, all documents require storage — even when you’re running a paperless office. You can’t just keep them all on your laptop, because 1) it’s going to get full, and 2) you need a backup solution anyway. A cloud storage service like Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox is the answer.
Microsoft OneDrive is a cloud-based service included in Office 365 that provides you the flexibility to keep your files synced in the cloud.
Evernote is great for managing large tasks, keeping track of to-do items, and basically operating the daily business schedules.
You can keep all of your notes in a single location and add to them whenever you think of something, because the notes all sync to your different devices. Second, you don’t have to keep a lot of documents on your laptop, which aren’t always accessible and can clutter up the hard drive.
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