In grammar school in the 1970s my teachers threatened every year that eventually we would all have to learn the metric system. Five decades later I’m still measuring things in inches and feet, ounces and pounds. It’s kind of similar to the “paperless” movement. Remember when the Kindle digital reader came on the scene and the death of printed books was predicted? Even though we have so much digital information available, there’s still going to be a lot of printed material—paper—in our lives. Where do you embrace going paperless and where do you still resist it?
I’ve gotten really comfortable and confident about things like paperless airplane tickets and concert or play tickets, in fact, it has been a wonderful relief not to have a piece of paper—so easy to lose or forget to bring—as the only way to prove you purchased a ticket.
I’ve also finally gotten used to and even appreciate getting things like fashion and home inspiration online rather than in magazines. There are so many upsides to not purchasing magazines. For one, they pile up and become clutter. For another, they are mostly advertisements, so easy to scroll past digitally but so cumbersome in a paper magazine. Fashion magazines are like beds—the editorial is a very thin sheet on a pillowtop mattress of ads. They are expensive too, considering they are basically advertisement and marketing vehicles, whereas you can look at almost everything they offer online for free.
When it comes to documents I need to review and receipts, I am still attached to paper and still heartily advocate a two to four file drawer file system per adult.
I find it much easier to reconcile bank statements, review my taxes, read reports and review travel itineraries on paper. Screen time noticeably tires my eyes much more than time spent reading paper documents.
Receipts are kind of a bizarre animal, since many fade to illegibility within a short amount of time. I try to write the date and value amount on the receipt so that if it fades, I will still be able to read it. This is important for tax deduction receipts and valuables such as jewelry.
Digital books too have never satisfied me. Streaming music rather than owning albums or CDs has been embraced, but printed books are still cherished and independent bookstores seem to have regained some of their pre-amazon strength. I went to two beloved bookstores in San Francisco recently, City Lights and Green Apple, and both were quietly bustling with people looking for their next great read in every book-crammed cranny. Our own Book Mine has recently moved into a beautiful and much larger new space on Second Street, complete with café and an impressive piece of fiber art by local textile artist and fashion designer Nicole Kelly.
I’m noticing a lot less paper junk mail in my mail box, probably because it is now in the form of e-mail in my in-box. I’d much rather have the junk e-mail. It’s annoying, but so easy to delete and no trees had to die for it.
The old thinking about going paperless was to scan everything and then throw away the paper version. Luckily, we are a lot smarter than that now and just eliminate the printed version completely in a lot of cases. I hate the extra layer of work that is scanning. If I feel like I have to have a digital copy of something I just take a photo of it and put it into a specific album in my phone photo library. For any other paper I want to hold on to, I drop it into the appropriate file and that’s it.
I love paperless billing and auto pay services and rarely write a check anymore. I still know a lot of people who are uncomfortable with paying bills online, but it’s made my life so much easier.
For note taking, if I am making bullet point lists or action lists, I use the notes app on my phone–paperless. For more extensive notes, the act of writing is still faster for me and I seem to retain the information better. I rarely hear anyone talk about apps like Evernote for note taking and capturing information anymore. My thinking is that apps like Evernote encourage capturing too much information, most of it unnecessary, which makes it difficult to weed through later. It’s like a digital version of all those tote bags full of printed information we used to get at seminars and conferences—eagerly gathered yet never looked at again.