By: Andy Weiss
As a self-professed digital geek, I felt compelled to go paperless. I figured it would not be that hard as digital devices from PalmPilots to BlackBerrys to iOS devices have been constant companions over the years. Little did I know that it was going to be harder and require more discipline than I imagined. I tried several different tools, apps, and services in the last year all in an attempt to find the optimal mix for me. But what I have realized is that it is as much the tools as it is adapting the process of going paper-free. To-dos and bigger documents were easy. Jotting down quick notes that fell outside the system proved the biggest challenge. While it’s still a work in process, here’s a look at the approach that works for me most of the time.
My approach centers around iOS devices (iPhone and iPad); however, the same or comparable tools are available for Android devices. This approach is by no means complete, but I think it covers 90% of the most common paper(less) needs.
First up is the to-do list. I use Omnifocus for logging and managing my list of personal and work-related tasks. It is on the upper end of the feature spectrum, but I like how it lets me track and segment my various lists. Although this is the app I’ve chosen, I firmly believe that it is not so much the one you select as long as you use it…especially when it comes to task management.
To capture meeting notes, important emails, whiteboards, photos of wish-list items and all those odd-n-ends that I want to remember, I have been using Evernote for some time. If I’m going to go through the exercise of cataloging all that information in one place, then it needs to be readily accessible and easy to find. For that reason, I love Evernote’s multi-platform availability and its robust search functionality. For the times that I just need to be able to handwrite a note or draw a picture, I have started using Noteshelf and then exporting the notes to Evernote.
Inevitably, I get a document that I need to view or edit. In those occasions, I turn to one of two apps. QuickOffice covers all my Excel, Word, and PowerPoint needs and PDF Expert handles the PDFs. Neither fully replaces the desktop versions; yet, they seem to get the job down in a pinch.
Finally, no paperless system is complete without a cloud storage solution. I have selected Dropbox. Not only do I use it to ensure that documents are accessible no matter where I am, but I also find its document sharing functionality perfect for quickly and easily passing along files to emails without bloating email systems. With the tablet apps, you can even do share a file without moving it to your public folder.
I'm not sure that I will ever be totally paperless or stop fine-tuning this approach. But for now, it seems to do the job. What have you tried? And more importantly, what has worked for you?
Andy Weiss is a digital direct marketer, consumer evangelist, change agent, and cultural anthropologist.
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