Juggling physical papers at home, in the kitchen, and in the office can be tiring. If you’re thinking of going paperless, now is the perfect time to get started. By going paperless, you can simplify your workflow and reduce your environmental footprint.
Of course, it is impossible to be completely paperless; you still need it for government documents, coupons and quick notes. You can, however, minimize the amount of paper you use by storing personal documents in the cloud, switching to a digital note-taking tool, jotting down travel memories in a journal app, and switching to e-books.
Ready to make the change? Here are some quick ways to reduce your paper consumption
1. Digitally sign documents
Need to sign a lease or request a medical record? Adobe Fill & Sign and Sign Easy make it easy to sign almost anything on your phone or tablet.
Adobe Fill & Sign is free and does the job. Open a document in the app, select the sign icon at the top, create a signature using a finger or a stylus, and add it where appropriate.
If you want more features like native cloud storage support and better collaboration with others to fulfill contracts faster, you can also opt for Sign Easy. Although your phone works perfectly, if you sign a lot of documents, you can opt for a tablet with a pen support.
Adobe Fill & Sign: Free
Sign Easy: Free / $15 – $25 per month
2. Scan receipts and documents
You don’t have to store receipts and personal files in a drawer. Use a dedicated document scanner app and store this data directly on your phone. Applications such as SwiftScan and Adobe Scan are smart enough to detect document edges and provide a seamless scanning experience. OneDrive is another app that comes with built-in Office Lens for scanning and saving documents. Google also offers a PDF scanner called Stack, but the app is only available in a handful of countries.
Adobe Scan: Free / $4 – $70 per item
SwiftScan: Free / $1 – $100 per item
3. Adopt cloud storage for a paperless life
Instead of keeping files in a bunch of folders and cabinets, you can store them in a cloud storage service like Google Drive or OneDrive. Not only will you reduce clutter, but you’ll also have all your important documents with you at all times.
Google Drive is the default storage app for Android devices and comes with 15GB of free storage. Create new folders in Google Drive, scan and upload files to the platform, and you’re good to go.
If you’re on a Microsoft 365 plan, you’re already entitled to 1TB of OneDrive storage. OneDrive offers a private vault to provide additional security for your private and sensitive documents. And if you’re hitting Google’s 15GB wall, you might want to switch from Google Photos to OneDrive for storing photos and videos.
Google Drive: free
OneDrive: Free / $2 – $10 per month
4. Trade in your Moleskine for a digital note-taking app
While many still prefer a physical notebook and sticky notes, you can’t go wrong with digital note-taking apps. Google Keep is a great choice for basic notes and offers basic formatting options, a to-do list, and seamless sharing.
Microsoft OneNote is another capable note-taking app that resembles the physical notepad with the Sections > Notes organization style. It’s packed with features like drawing tools, multiple formatting options, built-in voice/video recorder, math equations, and table support. Did we say it was free?
Google Keep: free
5. Replace your printed subscriptions with apps
It’s time to cancel your pirint subscriptions and take full advantage of the media apps on your phone or tablet. Most media is online and many offer apps. You can subscribe to your favorite media company’s service, download the app and have it right on your phone or tablet.
Get the latest news, latest Wall Street updates, recent Silicon Valley happenings, and Washington developments straight to your phone or tablet.
Cost: Depends on your favorite news app
6. Keep Track of Your Thoughts in a Journal App
Next time you’re planning a trip, don’t add a journal and pen to your bag. Download the Journey app from the Google Play Store and write down your beautiful vacation memories.
Besides the standard text, you can add your location, mood, temperature, and media files to an entry. Journey Planner is another useful addition to check your entries by days and months.
Cost: Free/premium options available
7. Scan old photos
Do you have a bunch of old photos lying around? It’s time to digitize those shoeboxes filled with goofy photos of your bat mizvah and those faded Polaroids of your meemaw’s 112th birthday.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably forgotten that you even have real photos — you know, those smelly paper-filled envelopes you’d pick up at the drugstore — but you love posting your current memories on Instagram or Facebook. All the more reason to digitize your photos!
Picture Scan makes scanning photos easy. You can scan multiple photos, apply color filters and image details, remove reflections and create the perfect vintage album.
Cost: Free / $1 – $100 per item
8. Buy and read ebooks
We know nothing beats the feeling of flipping through the pages of a beloved book, but hear us out: eBooks are an amazing alternative that you can purchase from the comfort of your own home.
Amazon is the undisputed leader when it comes to e-books, although Roku and Google also have sizable collections. You can browse and buy e-books, including bestsellers and new releases. As for the reading experience, you can customize background color, font size, tag quote, add notes, use built-in dictionary and even use Google/Wikipedia integration.
Cost: Price varies by title
9. Make small changes to your daily habits
Let’s talk about some general tips to help you go paperless. Ask your bank, credit card company, and utility providers to stop sending paper statements, because a statement sent by email works just fine. When you are at the ATM, ignore the printed receipt. Use Google Sheets to balance your checkbook. There are plenty of ways to minimize your reliance on paper.
Now that you’re well on your way to a paperless life, you’ll need to think of ways to keep track of all your daily tasks. Google Keep is good enough for the basics, but if you lead a busy life, you’ll want to find a great to-do list or task management app to keep you on track.
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