Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What does paperless really mean?

When we say we're "going paperless," what does that really mean? It certainly doesn't mean that we'll never touch another piece of paper again in our lives. It also doesn't mean that a person who wants to be less bogged down by paper doesn't enjoy paper in certain situations. Being paperless, like being organized, is not an absolute destination, but something to work toward and use as a tool to live a simpler life.

To me, paperless means not printing stuff unless it's absolutely necessary, including recipes, directions and especially emails.

It means asking people to send me information electronically rather than hand me a piece of paper with the information on it.

It means reducing my paper mail by signing up for paperless statements and bills and taking myself off catalog and junk mail lists.

It means thinking twice before picking up a piece of literature or a business card.

It can mean lots of other things, but those are good start. What does paperless mean to you?

Creative Commons photo posted to Flickr by Bert 23
Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email Sign up for Lelah's News, a once-monthly newsletter.


  1. Lately, I realized that now that we have laptops at work, paperless can me everyone bringing their laptops to a meeting instead of printing out the documents you are going to use. Downside to this: people can get easily distracted by the email and internet that are also on their laptop during the meeting! I told everyone to pretend they were looking just at the piece of paper that was the document, and nothing else on their desktop...

  2. Great comment, Lena. It can be distracting to have a computer in front of you at a meeting, when all you need is to be referencing one document. It sound like you have a good strategy for getting people to focus!

  3. The key is to reduce the creation of paper-based documents at source. Also, small things like opting to receive bills electronically (instead of paper-based bills) can make a difference. This is true even on the home front. For instance, if you own a tablet or mini-laptop and also subscribe to magazines, it's a good idea to sign-up for digital versions rather than paper-based ones. You can read them on-the-go as well as keep your home/office desk clutter-free.

  4. I agree, Ketan. The best way to maintain a paperless lifestyle is to stop paper before it comes in. Digital magazines can be a great alternative to paper ones. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Students who use laptops in class get lower grades according to extensive research because of distraction. Also, the professor can not tell what is on a students screen because he is viewing the back of the screen. This is why you see so few open laptops in college class rooms.