Going paperless is a process, not a single step. In this “paperless” age, technology can certainly still add to our piles. You may be staring at proof of that right now. If used smartly though, it can also be used as a line of defense in keeping paper at bay. There are countless productivity apps on the market that save us time and keep to-dos straight, but these seven apps work to eliminate paper. Each app below is a tool that will manifest as more clear space on your desk. The first four apps are ones I’ve personally come to rely on heavily. I utilize each one countless times per week to slow the flow of paper into my life. The last three come highly recommended by friends and clients.
PinterestWhat it is: Allows users to create shared online boards. Users “pin” images from the web to themed boards. How it eliminates paper: Pinterest allowed me completely eliminate my “Design Ideas” file folder. I did this in two ways. I used the Pinterest iPhone app to photograph and pin images from torn magazine pages that I had filed away. I was also able to locate some design articles on the web, from where I pinned the image and tossed the hard copy.
Genius ScanWhat it is: Turns your phone into a scanner. How it eliminates paper: I use Genius Scan to do anything from scan signed client contracts on-site, scan statements for my bookkeeper, scan & email signed forms, and take a pdf snapshot of articles to read. From there you can email to yourself or others or save to dashboard. I find that it’s easiest to process or forward from my inbox.
1PasswordWhat it is: Secure virtual vault that stores logins and passwords. How it eliminates paper: Yes, people do still scribble passwords in tattered little notebooks and folders marked “Passwords.” Stop it! I use 1Password to store 60+ logins, passwords, account numbers, frequent flier numbers, wallet contents & more.
EvernoteWhat it is: I refer to it as my “brain.” Think of it as a custom library built by you. Store and organize lists, scanned documents, articles, images, and links. With a search tool that searches note titles, tags, and body of note, it’s virtually impossible to lose an entry. How it eliminates paper: It took me years to grasp Evernote’s capabilities. It wasn’t until I worked with a client who scans nearly everything into Evernote that I saw piles disappear as the papers were scanned and tagged within seconds. Even scan journal pages and handwritten notes.
PaperKarmaWhat it is: Takes pictures of unwanted mail to stop to eliminate junk mail. How it eliminates paper: Sends your info to the mailer to take you off their distribution list.
CardmunchWhat it is: Takes pictures of your business cards and enters them into your iPhone address book. Also attaches contacts’ LinkedIn profiles. Real people review and enter text to ensure accuracy. How it eliminates paper: Toss the business card once contact is entered.
Pocket AppWhat it is: Save articles to your phone to read later. Works well for people who are easily distracted with articles throughout the day. Save them to read when needing to kill time on the go. How it eliminates paper: If you’re saving an entire magazine just for one article, or tend to collect article tear-outs, locate article link online and save to PocketApp. Not only are you more likely to read the article if it’s on your person all the time, but also allows you to confidently toss the hardcopy.
My list of productivity and organizing apps is always growing. Follow my Digital Organization and Sanity Pinterest board to stay up to date on apps I like and use. Do you have a favorite app to add? How are you using technology to eliminate paper? Please help me add to this list! I'd love to hear your comments.