Paper has been a major part of work life since we traded the horse and plow for business attire. When it came to productivity, the person who had a good system for mastering the stacks and piles of paper was the most productive worker. But the master of the “day planner” is at a disadvantage when it comes to productivity in the workplace of today.
Since computers, mobile devices, and smartphones have made their way into our daily lives, we’re bombarded with IMs, email, meetings, collaborations, to-dos, projects, and so much more.
Because of the fast pace and high demands of our careers, paper just can’t move fast enough to keep up. The fact is, daily work becomes more efficient when paperwork decreases. Getting out from under the paper is the key to gaining productivity at work.
To give you an idea of how going paperless will give you an advantage in your work life, I’ve put together a list of seven ways paperless work can make you more productive.
1- A clean, organized workspace
Research shows that a clean, organized environment produces better focus.
Nothing adds to a cluttered, messy workspace like paper. Paper has a magical tendency to pile up on any flat surface, like your desk. These piles of paper represent work that needs to be attended to, or papers that need to be filed.
Having these piles in your field of vision creates a distraction that keeps you from fully focusing on the task at hand. Besides the work that is pending in paper form, there is also the issue of paper files. Filing paper takes time and file cabinets take up floor space.
In a paper-filled office, the remedy for this would be to regularly clean the office space and file the necessary papers.
Going paperless eliminates both of these issues, saving you time, and giving you more clear space to cultivate a calm and focused workspace.
2- Easy document management
A white paper published by IDC highlights a global survey of 1200 knowledge workers and IT professionals. The survey found that these workers spend an average of 4.5 hours a week looking for documents. That’s more than ½ of an entire workday!
With digital document management, workers can easily file and locate the documents they need in moments instead of hours. That is an obvious increase in productivity—an extra 4.5 hours a week you can use for more strategic, creative, and fulfilling work.
With paperless document management, gone are the days of digging through the file graveyard in the basement.
3- Instant internal communications and easy collaboration
With instant messaging apps and email, the time it takes to communicate with your team has shrunk considerably. No more long, drawn-out newsletters and memos that get “mysteriously” lost under a stack of papers. With these messaging tools, a question can be asked and answered almost immediately, saving time and frustration.
Document sharing is another tool that can give you quicker results than the previous paper-to-hand method of the past. For example, with Google Drive you can share and edit documents in real time, instead of waiting for a red-lined hand copy from a colleague.
A paperless office is the ideal place for easy collaboration. Multiple people can work simultaneously inside a shared document through Google Drive or Microsoft 365. Real-time collaboration allows instant feedback, quick edits, and even inspiration that comes from working in a group. And you don’t even have to get up from your desk to do it!
4- Paperless bookkeeping
No more processing invoices by hand or saving paper receipts. Paperless record keeping and cloud storage provide a reliable way to upload and store all financial related documents and numbers in one place.
Having all financial info stored in the cloud means you won’t need an in-house accountant. A remote professional can gain access to your records to balance your books, prepare taxes, process payroll, and process invoices.
Accounting software reduces costly mistakes. Paperless accounting software can quickly do calculations, prepare reports, save time on document handling, reduce document storage and supply costs, quickly access information about an invoice or payment, and more.
These features alone represent a huge increase in productivity. And paperless bookkeeping is something you can benefit from in your workplace, as well as your paperless home office.
5- Mobile working, flexible schedules
When you work paperless, you can access digital files at home or on the road, at any time of day, and from any device with internet access. The ability to gain access to the office remotely saves an incredible amount of time and frustration when working with clients, or when you’re away from the office.
Having remote access to office documents, and even coworkers, means you can have instant access to needed info while working remotely: either at home, while travelling, or on a job-site. You’ll be able to immediately address client needs, provide up-to-date information regarding current contracts, projects, or even quickly deliver a quote.
6- Digital tools reduce the chance of human error
Half the battle of saving time and increasing productivity is won by preventing errors, so we don’t have to clean up a disaster and re-do work that has already been done.
Misplaced files, poorly organized customer records, incorrect accounting, many of these human-caused errors have terrible consequences and steal time. Not just the time it takes to re-do the poorly performed task, but also the time it takes to clean up the mess that results from the mistake.
Paperless file storage, document creation, accounting, invoicing, record keeping, inventory tracking and more, can eliminate human error. Paperless tools have been carefully designed to eliminate common human errors in routine daily tasks so we can spend our time and brain power on producing outstanding results in areas where our contribution really shows.
7- Automate “busywork”
Automating time-consuming “repeat” work is a great way to get rid of paper and increase productivity. If you look at your daily work and identify the things you do regularly that are merely a repeat, these things are prime candidates for paperless automation.
- Email responses: From informing someone you’re out of the office to confirmation emails, you can set pre-written emails to automatically be sent through your email software or an autoresponder service.
- Digital signatures: Sign and send important documents without the need to print, sign, and rescan. Most automated e-signature tools will also secure your documents for safe delivery.
- Organizing meetings: Repeat meetings can be set up in your scheduling or email program to automatically generate an invite with a way for the recipient to RSVP.
- Gathering and organizing client info: Client information can be gathered and organized through a secure pre-filled form like the kind you can create in Google Forms.
- Outlining and coordinating projects: No need to recreate an outline and process every time you begin a new project. Project tracking in a digital journal along with collaboration software can make the setup and ongoing collaboration seamless.
These are just a few examples. There are so many places that automation can eliminate “busywork”. The key is being aware of the things you routinely do that could be done better and quicker through automation, and then finding the app or software to do it for you.
As you can see, paperless work has the advantage over paperwork, when it comes to increasing your productivity. A paperless work environment fosters focus and clear thinking, encourages collaboration, gives quick access to needed information, provides a way to automate repeat “busywork”, and eliminates the potential for human error.
Transforming your work environment through paperless work will allow you to create a smooth workflow that fits your unique situation. Plus, you’ll feel more empowered when it comes to managing your work day.
Check out my Youtube channel for reviews and tutorials on tools you can use to go paperless and increase your productivity. For a more in-depth paperless experience, you can join us in the Paperless Movement Inner Circle where you’ll have access to all of my paperless training materials and can ask me questions directly.