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Tony Mobily's picture
By Tony Mobily
Thursday, September 30, 2010 - 20:31

Avoid paper. At all costs. Even if it means scanning everything

Get some scales. Now, measure how much 700 sheets of paper weigh. That's quite a bit. Now put a lighter next to them. Let the flame touch the paper. Once the fire brigades are finished with your house, come back here and read the rest of this long chapter. Get some scales. Now, measure how much 500Mb weigh. That's hardly anything, especially if they are on a USB key. Now, put a lighter next to those 500Mb. It probably won't catch fire. The good news is that your house is safe. The even better news is that even if you were so smart you just destroyed a $5 memory stick, you still have that information available somewhere, on your hard disk (if you don't, and you burned the only copy you had, you shouldn't be running a business anyway). The moral of the story: avoid paper. Always. At all costs. Any utility bill you get, ask them to switch to electronic billing and get electronic files instead. Give the file a decent name -- bill1-today.pdf won't be quite as good as 31-7-2010_telstra_240.pdf . If somebody refuses to send you electronic bills, scan them and shred the original -- yes, it might take ages to scan a 10 page bill, but it's worth it. The only paper in your office should be used for those idiots who still want you to post letters to them, and aren't happy with an email. Every sheet of paper is a defeat for you and for your sanity. Paper weighs a lot. It's basically impossible to backup. It's hard to store it. It perishes quickly. Data has no weight. It's easy to backup. It's even easier to store. It doesn't perish. You pick which way you want to go. It's an IQ test. Good luck.

8 comments so far

Paul Hastings's picture

Paul Hastings

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 02:58


Quite true. I've learned this through personal experience. There should always be a default leader.

Fred Furbo's picture

Fred Furbo

Thu, 11/18/2010 - 12:16


Take a magnet and put it next to your stack of paper. Nothing happened, right? Now take a magnet and put it next to your USB key...

applicomhq's picture


Wed, 01/12/2011 - 08:34



That's why people have backups...!
(Off-site ones work even better)

Put a match next to a filing cabinet and see what happens... :D


Gab's picture


Wed, 01/26/2011 - 00:36


Now what if we had a flaaaaming magnet! ;)

Seriously though, I have found that a combination of both is helpful. Though I'm not an expert in legal issues, I have found that receipts I receive in paper form, I can keep and file in a cabinet. I try and keep a digital copy anyway since the use of filing systems with tag capabilities simplifies my workflow A LOT!

Tagging a receipt with both taxes, warranty and whatnot saves you the hassle of making 3 copies and filing them all (which further introduces risks of double entries, etc.).

I'm still trying to find a decent scanner to do this. A flatbed scanner isn't that practical for such a task.

Naomi's picture


Sun, 02/06/2011 - 11:41


@Gab - There are tons of scanners out there with automatic document feeders. Some are part of multi-function machines; some stand on their own and take up a fairly small amount of desk real estate. I use a Fujitsu ScanSnap in my office and scan pretty much everything in.

Jeff Hilton's picture

Jeff Hilton

Tue, 04/26/2011 - 22:26


I love the new term for printed newspapers and for me even printed books - "The Dead Tree Edition"

Sean's picture


Thu, 06/02/2011 - 02:19




Gemma's picture


Tue, 06/21/2011 - 06:40


Absolutely Sean! Who needs paper, filing cabinets, and USB dongles when all that's needed is a scanner or a phone camera, Evernote and email?