Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Paperless Office

The Paperless Office is coming....

Well, Sort of.................

I have been trying for years to tame the vast influx of paper that come though this office. And mostly losing...

As I'm sure you know, 90% of the paper material that come through your front door is JUNK, most of it not even good junk, that at least semi-fun to read. Most of the papers that I handle in he mail go straight to File 13, nowadays one needs a very big trash bin next to the desk.
The the question is; What to do with the stuff you have to keep, which can be a pretty big pile by the end of the year.
Bills that need to be paid, car and house insurance paperwork along with income tax and other paperwork you'll probably never need, but if you don't have, You WILL NEED. All of this stuff needs to be kept in some sort of file cabinet or system.
The idea of he paperless office was to do as much as possible electronically and keep copies in hard drive, all filed for easy access if you ever need them, you can find and print them out. sort of defeats the propose.

Now days with external hard drives huge and cheap, there's no reason not to have at least one back up drive to save everything on.
Getting all your receipts into digital form means getting a scanner. Earlier this year we replaced our old HP scanner, It wasn't easy. Apparently, almost all regular retail outlets only carry those multi-function machines, that scan, print fax and make coffee... All we wanted was a regular flatbed scanner. After much calling around, I finely found one place that still had a couple $100. scanners perfect for what we need, as we already have a couple of printers and don't need a fax machine.0-95%

The idea of the paperless office was to reduce the amount of work we have to do. In some places and with proper implantation it dose. But for the vast majority of of its just a dream,

There are defiantly some things that one can do to reduce the amount of paper that is handled, or at least the number of times that one has to handle the same piece of paper, The biggest thing is sorting stuff as it comes in. And sorting right over the trash bin is the place to do it,
Bills that have to be paid should be put in one place and paper that need to be filed should be either imminently filed or at least put in a place to be saved up and all filed at once. Of course we all know what generally what I've gone over, however, how many of us actually take the time to sit down and figure out a filing system and actually stick to it?

The ideal thing to do would be to scan all your paid bills, and receipts into one folder, then file the paper originals, then if you need copies of a item you can just print it out. The added benefit is that if you lose the original, you can still print out the copy. Doing a little more work up front and setting things up will save you time long run.

The computer revolution and Internet has made many thing possible that we couldn't do a few years ago, and many things we still do are easier, such as writing papers and doing spreadsheets and the like are far easier on computer then they were ever before, However, one wonders if the amount of work its saved us, is creating more work, then its saving us from, just a different kind of work. We spend hours a week on emails, again, 90% of which are JUNK. One can figure on changing their email address every 2-3 years as by that time, their address has been put out in the wild for every slammer to send their junk to. One can spend a lot of time managing their computer, running system programs such as defrag and anti virus program, and spy-ware programs, not to mention doing actual productive work. So how much other stuff isn't getting done because your sitting at the computer maintaining it or sorting email, or other routine task that computers were supposed to free us from.

There are several culprits to blame for all this wasted time, one other major problems is our operating system. 90-95% of the folks reading my blogs are looking at it in a windows system. XP is by far the most stable windows we've ever had, however,it dose have major security issues and thus makes running antivirus programs and the like, thus taking up more of the time, computers was supposed to free up for us. The idea was to get on do your work get done, get off and have a life, not spend hours maintaining your system so you can do your work and check email.

The question becomes how much is the dream of the paperless office costing you and haven't even come close to getting to a paperless office yet?

1 comment:

Brent said...

I've been waiting for 2 decades for the paperless office and sadly, I don't see it even on the farthest horizon.

The idea of scanning every receipt, bill, bank statment, etc. sounds like a reasonable solution except one would still need a scanner that does much more than what is available these days. I want one that works as quickly and efficiently as a paper-shredder. Put a stack of different sized, 1- and 2-sided paper into the feeder, have it scan use OCR that is 99% accurate and knows to look for keywords to automatically name and file it into the proper, logical folder location. All this should take place at the touch of a button so I can walk away and have dinner while it's doing this job.

Sound complicated? I think it does, but the machines have the ability right now if only someone would develop a software/hardware combo that would be this intelligent. I'd venture to guess that some if not all of these ideas are already being used in the corporate envirnment and will someday trickle down to the consumer but in the meantime, I have a stack of mail to go through. Nice post!