What Does It Mean to Go Paperless?

Are you wondering how to go paperless, and what that might mean? Our iTOK Technology Advisors have some tips on going paperless to share!
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Written by Staff Writer • Posted on Apr 09, 2014

Thanks to cheap and convenient technology, our society is going paperless. But what does that mean? Well, to put it simply: we are exchanging printed pages for digital documents. Common paperless choices include bills, tax returns, and paychecks.

Going paperless means exchanging and archiving information digitally rather than through letters and pages held in hand. For example, there are a number of stores -- the Apple Store is one -- who will email your receipt instead of printing it out and handing it to you. This is handy for a couple of reasons: filing things on your computer saves time and space, you don't have to worry about losing a little slip of paper, and no trees or ink are wasted. It's a win-win for all parties involved!

Going Paperless with Important Documents

One of my personal goals this year is to go paperless. I want to keep all my important documentation online so I can easily access it wherever I am, even in another country. One example: I do my banking through Simple.com, a bank that services its clients almost completely online. To deposit a check, I sign in the appropriate place, take photos of the front and back of the check, and send those photos to the bank. More often, I make electronic deposits. Every two weeks, my paycheck is automatically deposited into my checking account. I check all debits and credits by visiting my account online, and if there's a problem, I can easily call in for assistance.

When I spent two weeks in Europe last summer, I used a scanner to copy my passport, driver's license, and credit cards in case they were lost or stolen. I kept these copies, along with copies of my plane tickets, train passes and itineraries, in an online note-taking system called Evernote. Then I could easily access them via Internet while I was in England, Scotland, France -- or even riding a train under the English Channel.

Until I made my paperless goal this year, my tax returns and financial paperwork filled several dusty boxes in the corner of my closet. But this year, I've done all my banking and tax filing online. It's freeing to know my information is safe and accessible without taking up space in my home. It can't be damaged or lost, either, which gives me more peace of mind.

Going Paperless for Literature

There is great freedom in having easy access to thousands of books and magazines on a slim, lightweight tablet like a Nexus, iPad Mini, or Kindle Fire. If you're going on a cruise, loading your reading material onto a tablet literally takes weight off your back and frees up space in your luggage. I enjoy reading magazines and blogs on my iPad; it's a great way to relax.

Ten years ago, when I was applying for graduate programs in playwriting, six programs required me to submit a completed application, two or three letters of recommendation, and two full-length plays, each about 100 pages in length. I had to print out over 1200 (!!) manuscript pages, mailing 200 to each of the six universities. I spent a considerable sum, both in printing and shipping costs. Imagine that today, easy as pie, I can email a whole play to a university or a theatre company without spending a cent. Not only is it easy and economical, it's fast -- email will get your important documents where they need to be almost instantaneously, while my applications usually took about a week to arrive. Just another way the paperless push is changing our daily lives.

While I appreciate the convenience and practicality of clearing off my desk, I won't deny enjoying the pleasant weight of a book. I like the feel of paper between my fingers, and the way wet ink glistens just a bit while I write. I love the smell of old books, and the sound of turning pages. I suppose I'm torn: I want to embrace new technology, but I'm not ready to completely abandon the joys of paper. Luckily, I don't think we have to.

Going paperless: are we ready for it? What do you think? Take a look around your filing cabinets and bookshelves to see what changes you're willing to make. For most of us, there are some easy sacrifices. But I don't think we're ready to throw it all out, just yet.

Want help in going paperless? Wondering how Bask can help you enjoy technology comfortably and confidently? Call us today for a free question & answer session, or schedule one here: Speak with a Bask Technology Advisor