Getting Your Paperless Office Started

Chances are you have hard-copy paper documents scattered on your desk, in folders, binders, inboxes, shoe boxes and probably a large bulky file cabinet or two (maybe on your floor? Lol).

As technology continues to advance, now is the time to establish and move towards a “Paperless Office”. office fit out Here’s how your small business or home office can get started in “going paperless“.

At a bare minimum, the “tools” you will need are a computer (or laptop) and a document imaging scanner. Depending on the available storage you have an your computer, you may want to add additional hard-drive space either through an external or internal hard drive.

Next you should define a well-designed folder structure (directory structure on your computer) that will give you a simple and logical organization of where you store your electronic documents. Having all your files in one directory, or in a poorly thought out directory structure will quickly make your paperless office confusing and inefficient.

Second, you need to define a standard file-naming convention. This file-naming standard will be used for every document you scan into your computer. If you do not have a consistent way of naming your files, then as your paperless office grows, you will have a difficult time finding documents and managing your files.

Once you have your tools (computer and document scanner), and you’ve defined your folder structure and file-naming standards, you are ready to start managing your paperless office. I recommend focusing on current documentation first, the papers currently cluttering up your desk and inbox.

Process your documents first. Meaning, if it’s a bill or invoice, conduct your normal bookkeeping process of entering the bill into your accounting software and then paying the bill. Once you’ve processed them, then scan them into your computer, name your documents according to your file-naming convention and save them in the appropriate folders. Now enjoy shredding and/or recycling that physical paper document.

After you’ve cleared your desk and inbox, you can begin the scanning and recycling process with the rest of your hard-copy documents. You will still need a small file cabinet or some physical storage in your office for critical and important “original” hard-copy documents. You probably do not want to shred the title to your cars, contracts, lease agreements, birth certificates, etc. But you will be amazed at how much physical space you can free up and how much clutter you can get rid of when you go paperless in your small and home office.