Is your paperless office wasting your time? – Pick Dave’s Brain

This week’s question comes from Iqbal in Letchworth Garden City, the UK. He asks:

Q: I’m a fan of your time management course on LinkedIn Learning. I believe in the concept of a paperless office so I try to scan all of my pages. The issue is that as I am scanning the papers, they end up in another area where they then have to be processed. I am not sure how this scanning process would fit in to your time management principles.

Click to tweet this: Digital space is infinite, but your time isn’t. Scan papers visually before scanning them digitally. @DaveCrenshaw

Is the paperless office something that you should be doing?

This week’s question comes from Iqbal in Letchworth Garden City, the UK. He asks:

I’m a fan of your time management course on LinkedIn Learning. I believe in the concept of a paperless office so I try to scan all of my pages. The issue is that as I am scanning the papers, they end up in another area where they then have to be processed. I am not sure how this scanning process would fit in to your time management principles.

Dave:

Thanks for the question, Iqbal. I’m quite familiar with the paperless office. Some of my clients are fans.

Personally, I am not a fan. Well, maybe the better way of putting it is that I don’t use it myself. I just simply don’t see the value in having to convert everything from paper to digital documents.

Perhaps if I were in a legal office and I had to sift through large boxes with thousands of documents—that might make sense. But it’s important to understand that there is a difference between a practice, a system that you follow, and the underlying principle.

Our principle should be efficiency. We want quick access to things so that we can get through our work quickly. The practice that you follow, such as a paperless office, can change. Some people might want to use a file cabinet. Some people might want to scan everything. The question is—how can we use the paperless office if you choose to use it, in the most efficient way possible?

I think you’ll find your answer in your question itself. You mentioned that you scan items and then process them. I would reverse that. First, process the items.

Processing is the act of deciding what, when, where: What is the next step? When will it be done? And where is its home?

So in the “process of processing,” decide whether or not you should scan the item. You want processing to be the highest priority, not scanning. Some of the documents aren’t even worth keeping. So first put them into an approved gathering point such as your email or physical inbox. Then after processing them, if you decided it’s worth keeping, then scan them and put them into the paperless office.

I think that very subtle switch will make all the difference in your ability to effectively use the paperless office.

Thanks for the question, Iqbal.

And if you have a question that you’d like me to answer, please go to davecrenshaw.com/ask, where you can ask me anything that’s on your mind about how I can help you become a more productive leader.

Thanks for watching!


Wish you had more time? What if you could uncover dozens of free hours every week, with just a few simple tweaks? Find freedom with a free copy of Dave’s guidebook, How to Get 10 Free Hours Every Week, by clicking here.