As I begin my journey to paperless nirvana in earnest, I’ve been turning my attention away from the things to shred to the things that need to be saved and organized.
Powers of attorney, birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees and death certificates are all original documents that must be saved. Organizing them may be as easy – and secure – as renting out a safety deposit box.
Some of my current best practices involve printing things, like bank reconciliation reports. Though my office is secure, any form of data is at a lower security state when it is kept on paper. Side-stepping the printer and using accounting software such as Quicken to interface directly with the banks also conserves things I know my grandchildren will need in the future, like trees.
Some vendors do not have the ability to set up online invoicing and others are required by law to use paper invoicing. Even if a paper invoice is unavoidable, digitizing it is a good idea if you want to reduce clutter in your office by storing more things off site.
The latest generation of document scanners can process 25 pages per minute, front and back. Some scanners are set up to work with any size or type of paper, including register receipts and business cards. Because of the way smart scanners recognize text and can produce editable and searchable documents, it makes sense for me to scan things even if I am required to retain the hard copy. As I discussed in my previous post, you need to retain paperwork for anything that appears on your tax return, for at least seven years.
There are other ways to pacify the paper tiger that threatens your office, like project management software, cloud computing and letting services like LinkedIn be your Rolodex.
Personal Interest Disclosure: This move to a paperless way of doing business comes as I prepare to move to a new, paperless office. Starting on June 17, our location will be:
1177 Summer St.
As I write this, I am in full-on moving stress mode. One of the few things I find comforting is the knowledge that all the files filled with paper that I have to schlep across town will soon be a thing of the past. My digital record-keeping will enable me to call up whatever I need out of my documents in seconds…and the paper copies, which are rarely ever needed, can be locked away in deep storage…hopefully forever.
What scanner do you use? Can it recognize text?
Judith Heft, Principal, Judith Heft & Associates is a personal financial concierge with offices in Greenwich and Stamford. She can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by phone 203-978-1858.