Should I go Paperless

Is a paperless filing system right for you?

Nine questions that get right to the heart of the matter

Paper Peace
by Catherine Anderson,

flat graphic cellphone with q screen
Going paperless has its perks. But, only you can decide if its right for you.

If you answer NO to any of these there will be consequences.

  1. Are you willing to sort and organize your paper piles first?
    • I hate to break it to you, but if you're not willing to do at least a primary purge and sort you're in for few frustrations.
    • Have you ever heard the saying "garbage in, garbage out"? Well, it refers to the fact that computers are not as smart as you think. Literally. You know more. You can make better decisions than those smarty pant chip boards.
    • Besides, it's just easier to scan and file papers that have already been categorized and organized.
    • And one more thing, the whole process of sorting and purging your papers will make it easier for you to create your digital folder structure and file naming conventions.
  2. Are you committed to creating a digital folder structure?
    • If you're a search guru, probably not.
    • I personally have not mastered the art of search. If you're like me, it's faster to go directly to a file rather than foraging through hundreds of search results. Especially because search applications are unpredictable and can be unreliable.
    • A solid folder structure can and does help pinpoint the exact file you're searching for when a search result fails.
  3. Will you be diligent in using consistent file names?
    • A good file naming structure is essential when it comes to archiving important digital records.
    • While it is true that search software does read the contents of a file—it reads the contents of every file. A search can render hundreds of results. Relying on this method alone will be disappointing.
  4. Will you back-up your data faithfully?
    • By faithfully I mean—at the very least—once a month. But daily is recommended.
    • All computer hard drives will eventually fail. It just one cold hard fact of our digital times.
  5. Will you back-up your back-up just as faithfully?
    • All hard drives will eventually fail, and those cloud storage providers make no guarantees.
    • Backing-up your back-up is your best bet. Otherwise plan on spending a possible boatload to recover lost files, if that will even be an option.
  6. Will you keep your technology current?
    • This means staying on top of upgrades and making sure your file formats have not depreciated. It is challenging to keep old records accessible for years down the road. Technology changes daily and hardware becomes outdated fast.
  7. Will you take security precautions and are you comfortable with the risks of digital records?
    • Your files and personal information are much more at risk when stored digitally. More so if you choose a cloud storage service over a private hard drive.
    • There are steps you can take ensure your records are as secure as possible. But even experts will warn there are no guarantees.
  8. Will you stick to the system you created?
    • It's pointless to go through all the effort of creating a digital folder structure and file naming convention system if you're just going to dump your files on the desktop.
    • Making a point of consistently naming files and taking the time to put files where they belong is required for a successful outcome.
  9. Will a trusted-one be able to access and navigate your system in an emergency?
    • Life is unpredictable and a loved-one—at some time or another—will need access to most of your documents or records. Make sure you have a contingency plan.

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