Going Paperless at Work [the complete guide]

Going Paperless at Work
(Last Updated On: October 6, 2017)

Going Paperless at Work or at Home

 Are you drowning in paper and still can’t find anything?  Ever consider going paperless at work or at home?

I think you’ll agree when I say there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to find a document you desperately need.


There is an easier way.


I’m going to show you how to increase your productivity by going paperless at work.


You’ll need some software (there’s even a free version) and a scanner. That’s it.

The bad news is that you’ll have to pay for a scanner, although there are different price options.

The good news is that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it once you set up your paperless system.

Oh, and there’s even a free application that will automatically file your brokerage and banking statements for you.  

More on that later.

How to Go Paperless at work – and Why should I care?

  • Eliminate the mess – Over time, paper happens. Given enough time, it’s everywhere – file cabinets, drawers, boxes, and closets.
  • Instant Retrieval –  Want to find a document now? – forget it! The easy system that I’ll explain will allow you to retrieve any document even on your smartphone, almost instantly.
  • Disaster – Are you ready for the next hurricane, flood, or fire? If you go paperless at work, your documents are stored in the cloud and you can even determine how many backups you want beyond that.
  • Privacy – Your privacy has never been more important. When you go paperless, your privacy is as safe as your password protection – which, by the way, will be a lot safer than your file cabinets.

First, let’s set up some preliminaries so you’ll be protected.

  • Password Protection – Before you even begin storing all your document in the cloud, make sure you have a password system in place which will ensure both your document’s security and privacy. See the SoloingOnline post on password best practices.
  • Backup Best Practice – The cloud storage that is enabled by the paperless document program (Evernote) is a great offsite backup of your documents but you should have other backups. See the SoloingOnline post on backup best practices.
  • Fireproof/Waterproof Storage – Most documents you will scan and destroy, which is the point of going paperless. Other documents, however, you will scan and keep – like business contracts and even your school diplomas, marriage licenses, original birth certificates, wills, etc. You need a secure storage for these documents. You can use a bank deposit box or simply purchase a fireproof and waterproof safe to secure these documents – preferably stored higher in your house to avoid flood damage.
  • Sort your Document – We’ve already discussed “scan and destroy” and “scan and keep” documents. The third type of document is from financial organizations such as banks and brokerage firms.
    • Going forward, I suggest handling this through an app that automatically stores these documents for you. Generally, you only need to retain these files 3 years from the due date of your tax return (or your actual filing date if later.)


So now we’re ready.


Set up your Evernote account to go Paperless at work.

The free version is fine. The paid version is really inexpensive though (Pro is $34.99 annually)  offers more storage and, more importantly, the ability to search for text in pdfs.  The search actually recognizes the words in a document (via optical character readers ‘OCR’) which allow you to search for more than just titles. Using the free mobile application, you can find any document in your system, even on your iPhone.

Go here to set up an Evernote account.

Want a great class on how to use Evernote? Go here to learn Evernote basics – quickly.

Purchase a scanner, sort your documents, and scan everything.

Going paperless at work is really affordable. It used to be, even recently, that a professional outside service as necessary to even think about going paperless – not anymore.

The less expensive (about $242) scanner is Fujitsu’s Scansnap S1300i Mobile Scanner for PC or Mac.The S1100i is portable and still reasonably fast.

The more expensive (about $430) but much faster scanner is the Fujitsu’s Scansnap iX500 Document Scanner – again for PC or Mac.

What about big documents?


How do I scan documents that won’t fit into my scanner? Like my college diploma.

Great question! – Simply take a picture of them with your smart phone using the Evernote Scannable free application.


Going paperless at work? – Here’s how to set up the Fujitsu Scanners software to scan directly into your Evernote account the easy way.

Many have a lot of difficulty in setting up their Fujitsu scanner to work correctly with Evernote. The menu settings below will automate scanning into your Evernote account and create a backup copy in your DropBox account. It’s easy, once you know the correct settings. But first thing first, you need to connect your Evernote account to your scanner. Setup your Fujitsu Scanner with Evernote.

Here’s the easy way to setup


Once you install ScanSnap, you’ll see a Profile pop up.

Select “Scan to Evernote (document)” – see below:


ScanSnap menu

Next, Select “Settings”

in the ScanSnap Manager.



In the Setting’s  “Application” tab,

ensure “Scan to Evernote (Document)” is selected. Note: you do not have to select Convert to Searchable PDF in the”Application Settings…” This is not available in the free version and Evernote automatically processes OCR in the paid version.


ScanSnap menu


In the “Save” tab,

enter the folder where you want to keep an extra copy of your scanned files. Note: Evernote automatically keeps an original scan in the Evernote Cloud. This directory is simply a local backup and can be deleted if you wish. Also, you can use a naming convention for your backup directory. Usually, however, you will name each scanned document for easier recognization and retrieval.




Set your “Scanning” preferences

– the following settings work well.



In “File Option –

set the format to PDF. Again, you do not need to select OCR.


ScanSnap menu



In the Paper tab,

you can leave the defaults, but make sure the “Paper size” is set to “Automatic detection.”


1ScanSnap menu



you can leave the “Compression” tab at its default settings.  It should look like this:


ScanSnap menu


Now that everything is in your Evernote account.


All your files are accessible either on your desktop and even your mobile devices, with a backup in DropBox. Furthermore, with the pro version, you can scan and retrieve documents from words inside the document vs. just the titles.

Going paperless at work and at home is truly available to every business and every person.


Handling your Bank and Brokerage Statements – free and automatically.


As promised


Here’s a free application you can use to automatically retrieve your financial statements, each and every month. It’s called File This.

“File This” allows you free service for the first six accounts. After that, the company offers plans for 12 and 50 connections for a really reasonable price. They offer their own cloud storage as well as DropBox, Evernote and a number of other options. I personally like to keep this separate from Evernote and store in DropBox because these are the type of files which I will purge every three years and there’s no good reason to add them to the more permanent files that I keep in Evernote. Of course, you can choose to develop any paperless system that you feel meets your needs.

They offer their own cloud storage as well as connectivity to DropBox, Evernote and a host of other options. I personally like to keep this separate from Evernote and stored in my DropBox because these are the type of files which I will purge every three years and there’s no good reason to add them to the more permanent files that I keep in Evernote. Of course, you can choose to develop any paperless system that you feel meets your needs.

This is a great application for both businesses and individuals as it completely automates the collection of pertinent financial documents necessary for tax preparation and financial reporting.

Finally, they also offer a free mobile app that allows you to check your documents with your smartphone. How’s that for free service.




Once you try going paperless for your office or home, you’ll wonder how you were able to live without it. Seriously! It is a commitment and somewhat of an undertaking to complete your own paperless project. Going forward it will get even easier. You’ll even be a little smug about it.

Remember, setup your password and backup systems first. Determine where you’ll keep documents that you want to scan and keep – like wills etc., and then go for it. Get the Evernote and FileThis applications.  Get DropBox if you’re going to incorporate that into your system and purchase your scanner. Once you complete this, the benefits are substantial – privacy, security, and accessibility. What more can you ask for 🙂


Let me know your thoughts on going paperless in your office, business or home. Do you have any further questions? Any ideas I didn’t cover. Let us know below in the comments section.

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