Be green, keep it on the screen

The message ‘be green, keep it on the screen’ ends my mails, and has become my alert every time I consider hitting the print-button or taking out my pen and paper. Do I really need to print whatever documents or excessive emails I receive? Isn’t there a better way of saving files? extracting relevant information? or simply saving links? Can I scribble down my notes online so I can access them later?

Gina Trapani, founder of Lifehacker wisely stated that there is no one-fits-all productivity tool. Personal organisational systems are like relationships; they have their strengths and weakenesses, and its up to yourself to decide which qualities that are the most important for you.

Being curious and daring to test are two good qualities to have to figure out what works the best for you. As I am going paperless, I am testing my way towards more efficiency. My first two steps have been to go from organiser wallet to smartphone and from documents on my desk to documents on my desktop.

Exchanging an organiser wallet for a smartphone

For many years I had an organiser wallet (a Filofax), with a detailed calendar, including notes and an address book; business cards, receipts and other loose papers were all tucked inside. It was personal and stylish. About six years ago, I reluctantly abandon my cherished organiser wallet for a digital one – my smartphone. While all my to-dos and notes would be forever gone if I lost or got stolen on my Filofax, this will now not happen (thanks to backups with my laptop).

Today I use and sync several calendars. The mail programme on a smartphone and computer allows you to sync the different calendars you use, such as iCal, Outlook and Google, which merges your appointments to one and the same place and allows you to invite colleagues to join. For business cards I recommend CamCard that simply scan the card you received and add the details to your address book. Another useful app scans into PDF, which can be handy when you need to share something you only have a paper copy of. I use ‘Genius Scan‘ but there are other similar ones.

To add, I have replaced my daily newspapers with tailored podcast – read about ‘My Top 10 News Podcast‘.

Moving documents from the desk to the desktop

I don’t know about you, but my office is filled with labelled binders and folders, individualised systems of colour-coding, highlighting’s and bookmarking’s of readings and writings. After several years at the same work places I accumulated so much resources that my overview got lost as my shelves filled up. I often carried home the ‘I-ought-to-read’ piles, which I often dragged back to the office ‘not-so-read-yet’…

Documents that are not available online I save on Google Drive or Dropbox (besides the internal server most workplaces have). Google Drive is practical because it has its own built in docs (word), sheets (excel) and slides (ppt). This I use to replace my scribbly notebooks. With Google Drive as well as Mac’s own Pages you can also share documents with others, and even work on it simultaneously. To add, there are project management tools such as Trello, although for that you need to be working in a project team.

Resources that are available online I no longer download but simply bookmark so I easily can find them when I need. For bookmarking and resources there is vast variety of applications one can use, and I am far away from figuring them all out. For now I am trying out Pocket, useful for the articles you find online, which you would like to read later, but perhaps not necessary to save. Pinboard and Diigo are different types of bookmarking apps which allows you to save a link, write a short summary or a few notes, and tag it. Figuring out a couple of good tags that work for you will become your searchable filing system.

I still haven’t figured out which are the good apps to highlight PDF documents, save and open on different devices online as well as offline. All your tips are more than welcome!

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