Nothing could be further from the truth.
Accountants and finance officers print out journals and ledgers and put them in folders together with invoices, statements and receipts. CEOs get their PAs to print out briefing papers, documents, agendas, email communications, memos and more. Teachers get students to print out their reports, assignments and essays. Presenters even distribute printed versions of their PowerPoint presentations.
Have we ever been more wedded to the printed word? Not even the exhortations of "think before you print out this email" can stop the wholesale wastage of paper and of printer consumables.
We are however on the cusp of a revolution that may well deliver on the promise of the paperless office. The modern smartphone and the iPad can actually transform document delivery, note taking and meeting preparation.
For the first time it is easier to arrive at a meeting with all the documents and the ability to take notes, establish reminders, annotate documents and record action items electronically and without the use if paper.
There are so many solutions to a paperless workflow that it's easy to find the one that's right for you. Have a look at the very helpful app, App Advice, which can help you choose the right solution for you.
Here are my favourite apps for ensuring I stay paperless:
- I always schedule everything in Calendar. all my appointments synchronise across all me devices. Whether I use my iPhone, my iPad or may Mac, I've got everything I need to turn up at the right place and on time. I use the Notes feature in Calendar to remind me of the names of other people who will be at them meeting and some jottings regarding the purpose of the meeting or its agenda.
- I use the Reminders app on iPhone iPad and Mac OS to schedule my tasks and to-dos. I set reminders based on when I get home, when I get to a meeting, when I get to the office; or more frequently, on a particular day and time. One of the last pieces of paper to disappear from my desk was my Daily To-Do List. Now, this list is automated, organised and with me wherever I am. I even dictate tasks into my phone while I'm on the run and while I think of them.
- Dropbox or Google Drive, once again synchronised across all devices, is what I use for ensuring I have all the documents that have been prepared for the meeting. These can stay as Microsoft Office documents if I like.
- I use the CloudOn app, which links to Google Drive and Dropbox, as a method of editing these documents in Microsoft Office format.
- I use Evernote for taking notes while at meetings. Evernote is my workhorse note-taking application. It automatically suggests a note title from my calendar appointment or location and can allow me to write notes, record audio, clip from the web and keep all my notes sorted, organised and across all devices. I can amend notes taken on one platform on all my devices and have them available whenever I need them, on whatever device is most appropriate for the situation.
- And finally, to stop the annoying number of sticky notes that I used to have everywhere, I now use the dictation feature to quickly record a reminder to myself or to take down a note before my untidy brain completely forgets it.
The last vestiges of paper in my life are:
- when reading in bed every night, I still love the feel and smell of a bound and printed book;
- the daily newspaper, which is again a very old habit that is associated with my morning breakfast ritual. I acknowledge that, with the current and momentous changes in print journalism, I am becoming an anachronism. My wife watches the morning "news" while I steadfastly sit at the table reading it;
- a subscription to "Auto Italia," a magazine for Italian car enthusiasts. I have every issue published and have stuck by them resolutely as they struggle to enter the digital world in a response to falling sales;
- in the garage, where I still use paper to jot down notes, shopping lists, cutting lists and drawings. There's something about using greasy and filthy hands on an iPad that is stopping me so far. Already my workshop manuals are in pdf format on my iPad, so I can see that even my garage habits are due for revolutionary change.
If a grandpa like me can go paperless, with the right will, determination and commitment, I'm sure you can, too.