How To: Go (Mostly) Paperless

For the first time in our lives, we're more paperless than we thought possible - both at work and at home. Although we still print the occasional paper, we've cut down a lot. Click below to find out how we got here...

HOME: Going paperless at home was easier than we thought it would be once our printer broke and we decided not to replace it.

• If you can live without a printer, do so. If we have to print something (which happens surprisingly rarely), we do it at work or at a copy shop.

• We file our documents on the computer now instead of inside a cabinet.

• Make sure to get a back-up system for your e-filed documents.

• Cancel unnecessary catalogs and junk mail.

• Sign up for online bill paying when possible, and save your receipts as PDFs in your electronic files.

• If possible, start to think of your home office as a portable system rather than a collection of equipment and files. It frees you to cut down on the clutter that collects around work. (We know...depending on your job, this isn't always an option.)

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WORK: We started a new part-time job this year with an architecture firm, and it's (surprisingly) the most paperless work environment we've ever known. The tips below are ones that they've implemented at our office to significantly reduce paper usage.

• Use communal printers rather than giving each employee a separate printer. It cuts down on what people print and sets the paperless model as a precedent.

• Store important information in secure, backed-up computer databases rather than file systems. It reduces storage space and makes information more easily accessible, especially remotely.

• Set all faxes, copy machines, and printers to automatically print double-sided.

• Use recycled paper and establish recycling bins in the office where employees can toss paper.

• Rather than use paper copies to edit or make notes, use the "track changes" function on your computer to mark up documents and send them via e-mail.

• Use electronic payroll systems and offer employees the option to receive their pay stubs online.

Add your ideas and experiences with going paperless in the comments below.

Top Photo: Offi Mag Table on the Mid Century Modernist
Bottom Photo: ABC by Arik Levy from Vitra

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