The digital natives, that is. Going paperless is a great New Year’s resolution to up your productivity in 2012!
Probably, unless you’ve been living under a large file credenza, you’re aware of the benefits of going fully paperless. CLEAR customers are nothing if not interested in better use of their time. The productivity increase you’ll see going paperless is incredible; consider the time wasted alone looking for a lost paper note or file. When you’re paperless, even if you misplace a file in the wrong folder, you can perform a search and find it in an instant. Paperless systems are also very sharable and great for enhancing the work of teams. More benefits of going paperless:
- Better efficiency in basic administration of your work “stuff” means more time for productive, creative, and billable activities
- Done properly, you’ll never lose anything again
- Every single file is portable and at your fingertips
- No files to remember and carry around
- Yay for the environment!
- Secure all your files in one fell swoop
- Once you get going, it’s cheaper
So you’ve got your iPad and you’re ready to ditch the paper notebook you’ve been carrying, just in case, alongside it. Or your office is in the throes – with or without your vigorous resistance – of a movement from paper filing to electronic. Here are the three cardinal rules of going paperless, from least to most complex.
1. Back up, but automatically
Gone are the days when you had to physically plug in and make a digital, static copy of everything that matters. iCloud is here for a very good reason. Enable it for all of your important apps.
2. Have a system and follow it
The paperless novice is trying out new apps and systems, saving things here one day and on other somewhere else, or loading everything into one unruly mess. Once you go paperless, just about every step of your work routine needs some tweaking. Here’s a great example of how one attorney sets himself up for paper-free success (the legal field is just one profession in which losing documents is a very bad idea).
3. Know your toolbox
There are a terrific number of apps available to help in your pursuit of paperlessness. But just like overdelegating to too many assistants, using an overabundance of apps will only make you less productive. Research your options, gather your tools, and stick with them. Here’s the paperless suite, to date, that works for us:
Orchestra. Switching to an electronic to do list is often the first step for the newly paperless. Orchestra beautifully allows you to compile and organize everything you need to get done today, on a specific date, “soon,” or “someday.” Social by nature, it makes a great tool for delegating and task sharing; voice recognition lets you speak your tasks. Best of all, it’s free.
DropBox. Store, manage, and share files with your team. This simple interface has been around for some time, but as it takes new devices easily into stride, it has yet to be beat.
Readdle. Since the iPad by design has no innate file manager or document viewer (other than the ability to view PDFs in iBooks), we recommend Readdle products. ReaddleDocs 3 lets you gather documents from email, the web, your computers, Google Docs, DropBox and other file transfer programs, etc. and organize them efficiently; you can also highlight and annotate directly on PDF files. Readdle’s PDF Expert 3 also lets you highlight and annotate, as well as draw with your finger (useful for recording simple diagrams); it also makes it easy to fill in forms.
Note Taker HD. The app that truly makes your iPad a notepad + tech. Tons of features may overwhelm a little at first, but it’s worth it: Note Taker HD lets you take efficient notes with finger or stylus or type in a text box, reorder pages, delete pages, edit tags, and more. Multiple line thicknesses (a really useful benefit), colors, fonts, and font sizes add customization, and you can import PDFs, annotate them, and insert and crop photos.
Genius Scan. This iPad app helps you take good quality scans of documents, and also does a great job capturing and resizing other text or diagrams you might want to scan, like notes on a whiteboard.
At what stage of going paperless are you: staunch believer in manila and spiral bound, or barely remembering how to sign your own name with a pen in your hand? Share your favorite apps in the comments.