Going Paperless (More or Less)

I am a writer. Consequently, I deal with words. But for the last couple of years, the words coming in and out of my life have been increasingly of the digital variety. For me at least, the paperless future is largely here. And it hasn’t arrived by accident. I have been very intentional about getting to this point.

I read the other day that the average four-drawer file cabinet contains about 18,000 pieces of paper. Based on that estimate, my wife and I had upwards of 50,000 pieces of paper before endeavoring to limit it in our lives. It didn’t happen overnight but today I’d guess that we have less than 1,000 pieces of paper.

How did we get to this point? For starters, we cut off the flow at the spout. We started banking online, getting paperless statements, paying bills online, getting off mailing lists and canceling magazine subscriptions. We scanned photos, ripped music and got e-books. We created PDFs of important documents.

My wife and I processed reams and reams of paper, from receipts to cards to newspapers to copies to printouts. Ultimately, we got rid of our printer, scanner, rolodex and every other contraption that was paper-centric. Before going paperless two of the biggest business expenses I had were for paper and ink, but no more.

Like many people, I used to print stuff because I thought I needed a physical copy. But when you go mobile like my wife and I have done you quickly realize the weight of all that paper. We literally could not travel as lightly as we do if we had not limited our paper to the essentials of tax, insurance and other necessary documents. Try it, you’ll like it.