How I went Paperless in 2012

I’m a Business Architect and Coach based in Adelaide, Australia.
Paperless had been an elusive dream till 2012.
The secret has been part tool-kit, part process, part philosophy.

The Tool-Kit

Input / capture devices

  1. Fujitsu fi 5110c Sheet-feed scanner – within arm’s length of my main desk
  2. Camera on Android Phone via Evernote app
  3. Camera on Ipad – very high quality
  4. Epson V500 Photo Perfection Quality Flat Bed Scanner  for Photos and books
  5. Evernote email dropbox
  6. B5 Notebook (yep, old fashioned paper) and pen
  7. Jing – Screen capture for PC
  8. Ipad screen capture
  9. PDf Printer – ipad print to pdf
  10. Dictaphone – Olympus DS-4000
  11. Whiteboard – Panasonic

Storage / Processing

  1. Google Apps – email and Google docs as Microsoft Alternative, easy document collaboration
  2. Evernote – my online brain
  3. Dropbox – easy cloud file dump – accessible on any device
  4. My Virtual Assistant – typing notes, maps, dictated documents

Viewing / Reading

  1. Ipad – default for pdf’s , photos, magazines, books with photos and illustrations
  2. Kindle – default for books with text only
  3. Desktop screen
  4. TV via Apple TV mainly for photos

The Processes

Don’t start with paper

Wherever possible avoid starting with paper. I now get all possible bills, board papers, documents, magazines and books electronically. Cancel the paper versions.
I use Evernote web clipper to capture stuff online and forward or bcc key emails or documents to the Evernote Email Dropbox.

Capture and shred

If it starts as paper – particularly whiteboard strategic notes and handwritten meeting notes I scan or photograph and dump into Evernote as soon as possible. Then shred.
For handwritten meeting notes I rarely bother to have them typed unless I know that they will be part of some other document.
Other client strategy notes, maps etc I forward to my Virtual Assistant to type up.
Dictaphone files get emailed for typing.
For some paper stuff I may put it (unscanned) into a Someday/Maybe file and usually I end up binning it.
I tried electronic note-taking using .Penultimate but it just doesn’t feel right for me (at this point) – so have reverted to B5 unlined books. I feel “less burdened” somehow by the smaller B5 format compared to A4 and it is less intrusive in a meeting. Very easy to photograph with phone or Ipad and dump into Evernote.

Digitise old Photos, Music, Memorabilia & Personal Archives

Using my flat bed scanner and Vuescan scanning software (best I could find for the Ubuntu operating system on my laptop) I scanned all photos and personal archives into Dropbox Folders. Next step will be properly catalogue, tag them. I’ll probably use Picasa for that.
For 30 years I had been carting around from house to house stuff like old school reports, family history documents like birth certificates,postcards (remember postcards !), letters from old girlfriends etc.
I spent quite a few nostalgic Sunday afternoons scanning them. I then had no hesitation throwing them out. This freed up several filing cabinet drawers.
Next I attacked an archive box of old trophies and memorabilia. Sentimentally important but they had been in a box and rarely looked at for over 30 years.
So I took photos of them and installed them in my “Virtual Pool Room”, accessible from any device. Then tossed the real thing. You see for my nostalgic ego – I only need the “memory trigger” of the photo. Guess what –  I have looked at my 1979 “Senior Colts Most Improved” trophy about 20 times more in the past 12 months than I have in the past 34 years.
That’s a massive increase in my “self-reinforcement” at no cost and without the burden of the “hard copy” clutter. Did I mention that 1979 was a Premiership Year ? Sweet.

Straight to the "Virtual Pool Room"

All old CD’s were ripped and digitised.
For my “must keep” old books – I spent a few hundred dollars, bought the Kindle versions and gave the “hard-copies” to friends. All other less noteworthy books went to charity bookshop.

The Philosophy

Why Paperless ?

  1. It fits with my de-cluttering strategy.
  2. It is good for my wellbeing – I feel burdened by the physical presence of paper.
  3. Saves space, weight.
  4. Allows for greater flexibility of work and living  – spaces and styles.
  5. Saves money – digital books and magazines are cheaper. I now deliver most client documents by pdf – saving time and money.
  6. Saves time – I can access a digital book instantly – even the fastest Amazon service is 3 work days.
  7. It is more sustainable. Printing books and sending them around the world is unnecessary.
  8. Reduced paper and weight has enabled me to switch from a Red-Oxx Metro Briefcase (now used infrequently for my laptop) to a Red-Oxx Gator Bag, which has enabled My Car-Free Year in Adelaide.


I’ve used the ipad in unexpected ways. The camera is a brilliant capture device – On the fly – nearly as good as my flat bed scanner and more than adequate for B5 notes or whiteboard screen captures. Reading pdf documents is great and the best of the magazines (e.g. Economist, National Geographic) are a delight to read and I can quickly share via Social Media. Using the DocAs app I can annotate pdf Board papers and the like.

The Kindle is one of my favourite devices. Long battery life, great screen technology and so light and simple. A beautiful “fit for purpose” piece of technology and my default device for reading text books. Great for taking and accessing notes. The kindle app on Ipad enables me to easily shift books from one device to the other.

Using this combination of tools and processes I’ve finally cracked my personal code of paperless.It’s been a journey of trial and error, with a few dead ends BUT its been worth it – I’m now one step closer to a “Nomadic Ready” asset-light lifestyle. Working and living anywhere, anytime.

What is your experience ?


There are many inspirational stories on the Evernote website.
I found this one particularly inspiring .
Jamie Todd Rubin – Going paperless: the apps and gadgets that keep me paperless


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