It goes without saying that the Less Doing lifestyle requires that you be as paperless as possible. There have been tons of articles discussing how to go paperless and there are services to help you do it that will definitely be covered by us at some point. It's fairly easy to go paperless moving forward but how do you deal with all the paper you already have? I want to talk about two services, ScanDigital and OfficeDrop, that can get you out from under that massive store of paper.
When I started out, I had two, 6 foot long filing cabinets absolutely filled to the brim with papers. Since I am in the construction business, these pieces of paper were anything from carbon copy yellow receipts to architectural plans to tri-fold brochures of building materials. I am of the attitude that you should keep every piece of information, every invoice, every email, because you never know when you'll need it. All of this information is a total burden and completely useless unless you have it well organized and more importantly searchable. The time you save typing in a search term vs looking through a file cabinet just once should be enough to convince you. I also had hundreds and hundreds of photos from camping trips, family vacations, and historic family photos. Before you get rid of junk mail and paper bills, you need to clean the slate and start fresh otherwise it just becomes a viscous cycle, burying you in more and more paper. Why is it so important to be paperless? It's more organized, you save time and money (especially if you rent a storage space for your paper), and it's better for the environment.
With ScanDigital, you simply go to their website and estimate the number of pictures and or videos you'll be sending them. They generate a UPS label for you, you load up a box with all your stuff and send it away. In return you get a DVD with all of your media as well as online access. For photos it ends up costing about 48 cents per picture, the service will color correct and adjust and they can even remove the pictures from an album and replace them if you don't feel like spending the time or if they are really stuck in the album like they were in my situation. At that price you could spend the time going through the albums to see which photos you really want or you can just send the entire thing and not have to worry about it.
OfficeDrop on the other hand is your solution for getting rid of the paper you have as well as the paper you might encounter in the future (I like writing about it like it's a visitor you don't want to stop by). So with OfficeDrop you also send in your paper and they will scan it all for you. They offer a service where they will store it online for you, completely secure and searchable. Of course you can download it to your computer or store it somewhere else like Google Docs. After the initial cleansing things get interesting. OfficeDrop becomes like a reverse Netflix. They give you a certain number of pre-paid envelopes per month and you simply send in the weeks receipts or bills or any other paper you received. To top it off, they offer a free application that allows you to scan directly to the cloud including Dropbox, Google Docs, etc...
1. Use OfficeDrop to get rid of all those stacks of paper and then keep them out of your life on an on-going basis
2. Use ScanDigital to digitize all of the photos, slides, negatives and video in your life that you want to preserve and share.