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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ditching paper

The training course I have been on this year has resulted in me being flooded with paper. Why do people give us so much? It's hard to store, to search, is bulky and difficult to access, and above all there's not the time to read everything we're given.

Today I took great pleasure in going through my files and removing all but the most useful paper documents - the rest will be recycled!

However it would be a lot easier if everything was in electronic form. It's portable - laptops, USB drives, online storage - and easy to search (the online file stores have search functions too).

Paper files could easily be converted to PDF, say via Scanr. Yes, doing it the first time is a chore, but being able to distribute any number of copies via a few clicks - how useful would that be? Plus, many of our bulkier documents were word processed in-house in the first place - just make them available in electronic form too, please!

Use of paper is deeply ingrained. Everyone understands it. Yet laptops are a revolution in productivity - so much information can be carried in one device. Many people don't want to "make the switch" though - there's a steep learning curve, often too steep for people to climb. And often they don't even realise the benefits, as they often only become clear later.

Sadly this makes moving to a paper-less working style trickier, as so many people are still wedded to their messy desks awash with paper. These people don't know how to use online file stores and other forms of online collaboration - often even e-mail is beyond them.

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