Thanks to a Twitter conversation between myself, and the Pams, @pammoran and @pamelamcleod, I’m thinking about the value of going paperless in my job and perhaps in other areas of my life. I have only just begun in this cause and while the environmental aspect of a paperless life is laudable, the organizational piece is where the value really lies.
1. Yes, it saves paper. New Hampshire is still 90% forested, so we’re probably not in danger of killing that natural resource but the cost of paper can be significant over time. I approve enough paper purchases for the school…now if I can get my staff to stop printing emails.
2. I don’t lose anything. I consider myself relatively organized, but if I can’t get my hands on that elusive paper, I’m pretty ineffective.
3. It increases my productivity. Everything is in one place and accessible quickly. Paperless assumes the trend of powerful searching as evident in Mac’s spotlight, Window 7’s new features, and Google’s search. We’re tagging files more instead of throwing items in folders.
How am I paperless?
- I have been convincing those I work with to send me items digitally as much as possible. Very little comes over in paper except perhaps resumes, School Board packets, and timecards.
- I’ve been helped by the advent of software such as My Learning Plan which digitally keeps track of employee leave and professional development and BudgetSense our district financial system. Once upon a time, I would sign reams of leave forms and budget requests. Now, I do such little handwriting that my signature is all I write. In fact, as a natural result, my handwriting is now labored and messy. There’s another blog post idea.
- I’ve begun to use Evernote as a clever productivity tool to capture smaller pieces of paper. (Going on a spring conference to ISTE or ASCD? Keep track of your receipts that way.) I can take a picture on my Droid and access it on my iPod Touch as well as the Mac Evernote client.
- The office copy machine in my school has been configured by our crack IT department to easily scan an item and place it into my administrative assistant’s folder on our school server. She can then easily email a PDF version to me. I keep a paper folder for items to be scanned.
- Google Docs is beginning to be part of my work flow. This doesn’t replace paper among those who are digitally based, but it can be a digital alternative for many. This year our district had our Title 1 review from the Department of Education with the usual accompanying paperwork. Much of the writing was done on two Google Docs in collaboration with a half dozen people. We easily would have been trading hard copies without that tool.
- Of course, underlying all of this is backup. I have a separate hard drive connected via USB and I use the imitable Time Machine Mac backup daily. Most IT experts will say that there needs to be three sources for your data, your computer’s hard drive, your backup hard drive, and online backup. The thought is that if you have fire or water damage, your computer and backup are next door to each other and might both fail. One online backup system is Mozy which you can have for a monthly charge.
How are you paperless?