Anyone serious about developing a location-independent career or minimizing office chaos will inevitably stumble unless they make a serious effort to become as paperless as possible. While I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still tackling my personal addition to sticky notes, I have made significant gains in my ongoing battle to have a paperless career.  The five main reasons for my success are covered in this article. Some of them may work for you as well.

Software

Moving towards a paperless business model is much easier when you have the proper software at your disposal. Whether your goal is image manipulation, on-the-fly document scanning or the inclusion of comprehensive office tools on your laptop in order to be prepared for any situation, software is how you’ll make it happen. Having the proper programs installed on your travel device of choice will help you be productive between flights, have productive working vacations and develop a legitimate digital filing system you can actually use. There are more options on the market than could ever be tackled in a single article, but some general suggestions with a wide range of appeal include Shoeboxed, OneNote, Snagit and Adobe Reader.

Support Devices

paperless-officeFor those situations on the road where you don’t have time to fire up a laptop, there are a variety of support devices that can aid in your paperless business efforts. Obviously, smart phones are a popular choice, but there are other options as well. Many people choose to travel with a tablet device because it provides a more user-friendly screen and increased functionality. Reading documents on something you can hold in your hand is far more convenient that having to find a bench or a table on which to perch a full-on computer. That being said, cost is a concern and it should be noted that tablet devices do fall short on functionality when compared to computers. I addressed this somewhat in a previous article detailing why I chose a Kindle Fire over a larger tablet. Which tablet is right for your needs will be a personal decision based on the needs of your business and your style of project management.

Thumb Drives

If the purpose of your paperless efforts is to help reduce your business overhead, then carrying a portable thumb drive or two is a cost-effective solution. It also allows you to print out the occasionally-needed document at the hotel business center, and keep all of your scanned receipts in one place. This makes it easier to file expense reports and also to transfer documents between machines if you happen to be at a meeting without your laptop.

Web-Based Storage

Whether you are storing critical documents in the cloud, or using online resources such as Google Docs and Yahoo Mail to access digital products and corporate correspondence, web-based storage is a huge help in transitioning to a paperless office. Filing documents in their digital form helps you handle receipts on the road, and access documents that historically would have been stored only at your home office. It also allows you to efficiently manage your mobile office, making it easier to work from anywhere in the world you choose. Dropbox is often first choice for many.

Product Choice

When transitioning into a paperless business, your choice of product has a great deal to do with the process. For example, if you choose to build passive income through online article databases such as Hub Pages or Squidoo, you’ll be making paperless progress on a number of fronts. The content itself is paperless of course, but so are the statements you’ll receive from the various monetization programs you’re allowed to use on these platforms. Additionally, Google Adsense and the Amazon affiliate program also deliver your earned funds through electronic deposit, eliminating the need for check mailing. You can also make gains in your paperless quest by pursuing travel photography or stock imagery, since those revenue streams can also be accessed through online platforms.

Developing a paperless business won’t necessarily happen overnight, particularly if you are starting from a point where paper still plays a large role in your day-to-day operations. That being said, progress is definitely possible with the integration of some key strategies and products. Do you have a favorite tool for going paperless in your office? Share your thoughts and tips in the comment section below.