See this pile of paper here?  This is what remains of a teetering pile of files and papers that filled an entire cabinet in my home office.  Those files have now been shredded and the information they once contained is floating in small clouds somewhere in cyberspace.  Now I can reach out and pull down the little cloud I need at any time. 

The paperless is office is not new but where it was once a ‘nice to have’ it’s now essential for a lot of business owners and employees.  Each day I go to The Little Space to work on my other business and I just don’t have the luxury of schlepping paperwork in and out each day.  I just want to take a small notebook, my phone and my laptop.  And this is not just for start ups and the self employed using cafes and co-working spaces, large companies are collapsing traditional office structures to create hot desk environments based around principals of space for specific purposes.  The new ratio is 1 desk to every 3 to 5 workers with dedicated planning, meeting and collaborating spaces. Our work needs to come with us.  Our kids will soon be asking ‘what’s a filing cabinet” just as they now ask “what’s a fax machine?”

The only danger in getting rid of paper is that we then simply push the clutter onto our hard drives and nervously click off that little message “start up desk almost full”.  

Ok, so let’s take some action! This is what I am doing to get myself, my papers and my start up disk looking spick and span for Spring.  

Clean up that hard drive

Ok first things first – clear the workspace.  I have a heap of photos and documents on my computer and I am never going to trust just one back up. So what to do? 

  1. Get it all onto an external hard drive.  I get my husband to do this (largely so I can just shift the blame in case it goes wrong) but this step is a no brainer. 
  2. I have an iCloud back up but I’m taking an extra step and also putting my photos and videos onto Google Photos and my documents onto Google Drive and Dropbox but I also make sure I have my hard drive back version in my drawer.  
  3. Clean everything off the laptop!

Declutter the old paperwork

I take just a few files each day and upload the information into Podio.  It’s a brilliant free platform that does absolutely everything I need it to.  I can set up separate areas for my businesses and my personal affairs.  It has great messaging functions as well as task management and customer relationship management. I know there are loads of these types of products on the market but it takes a little time investment to get familiar with these platforms so the more it can do for me the better.   Best of all, it can store documents so on they go and then into the shredder with the original. Ever the nervous nelly, I also have a backup protocol in place – just in case!  

The day to day stuff

I do find it hard to go past Evernote as a way to capture all the daily stuff I need to organise. From a recipe in a magazine, paint colours and decorating ideas to school class lists – it all goes onto Evernote.  It’s my messy top drawer in my pocket.  Now I simply pay the gas bill, snap a pic on my phone, upload to Evernote and throw out the original.  Tax records are the only exception to my shredding policy.

Keeping up the good work

 The trick with all these systems is keeping up the good work and habitually clearing and backing up.  I’m looking into a general offsite crash back up plan because I know myself well – whatever my good intentions, things will be creeping back onto my hard drive before long.  I will keep you posted but why now check out something like Crashplan – and let me know how you go?