Creating a Paperless Office
When working from home, it is usual to find that you have your office in an area that is not very big, such as a box room or even in the corner of the kitchen. When your business really takes off, you will begin to discover that your work area starts to get swamped by paperwork and that you are running out of storage space.
An excellent solution to this is to aim towards having a paperless office. Obviously, certain documents must be kept for legal and tax purposes, but take a look around you and ask yourself, "Just how much of this paper do I need to keep?"
The first task is to go through your paperwork and decide what is for the bin. Base your decision on whether you are ever going to need that document again. This is slightly different to documents you know you will never READ again, because most businesses are required by law to retain certain paperwork for official purposes, for example, certain receipts and leasing agreements.
Secondly, decide what you want to be able to access in future but don't require the information to be on paper. This is the main group of documents that are heading towards your scanner. Items in this category would include letters between you and your customers, brochures, price lists, business cards, etc.
Your third task is to seperate all official, legal, tax, etc documents you must keep. Basically, you should consider if these documents are possibly going to be required by a lawyer, tax inspector, customs officer or the police. If you are not sure then it is better to err on the side of caution and keep it.
On the assumption that you already own a computer, what other equipment are you going to need?
Proper filing boxes for the "keeps". Office supply stores stock a wide variety of storage options. Label your boxes and files properly so that you can access information held in them easily. You could also consider asking your lawyer, accountant or bank to store the more important items for you. This is a good option for the very important documents, but you may be charged for the service.
A scanner. Scanners are relatively cheap and are much cheaper and smaller than a filing cabinet. Systematically work your way through your files and scan the items in the second category. REMEMBER TO BACKUP ALL YOUR SCANS! Most recent computers will have a CD-Writer. They are a cheap and quick way to make a permanent, digital record of your files. As with your filing boxes, clearly mark your CD with a guide to the information it contains.
A paper shredder. AFTER YOU HAVE MADE BACKUP COPIES of the redundant paperwork, shred all your unwanted paperwork to keep it away from prying eyes. You can use the shreddings on a compost heap, if you have one. They are excellent to mix in with grass cuttings!
Allan Cowley is a Life Coach working with clients throughout the world. He provides online coaching in self improvement, goal setting, time management and small business development. For a free online life assessment with no obligations, you can contact Allan on his website at:- http://www.uk-success-coach.com/contact-online-life-coach.html
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