Canberra organiser filing
Virginia Wells

Virginia Wells

How To Go Paperless

Image inspired by Arj Barker’s joke – “Put a filing cabinet in your toilet and sort your shit out.”

Well.  There are many ways to go about this, but honestly, you need to decide if it’s for you.  Some people are just not made for a paperless system.  You may also choose to go partly paperless.  You might still have an Action Station for those bills and papers that need to be dealt with, and then scan the rest. If you really think it’s the way to go, some of the crucial steps are:

Make sure you have a good digital filing system. 

Just because you’re going paperless, doesn’t mean you just scan all your paperwork in and forget about it.  You need a good filing system online. You should name each file appropriately and create folders with headings that make sense.  It’s an online filing cabinet!

Keep only what you need.

It’s tempting to scan it all in and have a graveyard of paperwork on your computer.  Don’t do it!  Scan only what you need. Label them with titles that make sense so you can find them again.

Also, think about if you need to be able to edit your documents. If you do, simply scanning them in may not do.  That’s because a PDF won’t necessarily be editable.  So, think about if you need software that allows you to edit your documents. This won’t be an issue if you’ve been sent a digital version of it.

Get bills and other snail mail to come electronically

If you can, sign up to have your bills and other snail mail to come to you electronically. This will stop a lot of paperwork coming in the door. It will also save you from having to scan paperwork in.  As they arrive in your inbox, decide if it is something you really need to save to your filing system, or if it’s just needs to be dealt with and then deleted.

Say No to Junkmail.

Put a ‘no junkmail’ sign on your letterbox so you don’t get junkmail. Simple.

Paperwork to claim

Generally this is things relating to private health insurance or Medicare. What you can do here varies from person to person.  If your fund allows you to photograph receipts and submit them via an App, do that and throw them out.  If you can’t, you’ll need to keep some of this in paper form to be able to bring them into the shopfront and claim the money back. Best to keep these in an Action Station.

Use an app to save your To Do Items.

We often use scraps of paper to write down our To Do List.  Why not get an app on your phone to save and prioritise all of your To Do items? No more envelopes floating around with notes on them.

Tax and important documents

There are some papers you just need to keep, like Decluttering your financial life.  You could scan in your tax return and receipts, but do make sure you back it all up. If you get audited, you need to be able to provide the documents.

As for important documents like your birth certificate, citizenship documents, degrees and passports? Well you’ll have to keep copies of these! Decide if a Arch Lever folder will do or a plastic sleeve.

Letters, cards and artwork

There are plenty of App’s to help in this department like Artkive and Keepy.  Photograph them and let them go. Otherwise, you could store these in a memory box to flick through at leisure.


If you’re going to go paperless, make sure you have a backup plan.  If your computer crashes, you could lose all of your documents that you painstakingly scanned in. So, make sure you do regular backups of your PC. You might even want to consider having a copy of this offsite, just in case you get robbed or have a house fire or flood that destroys your computer.


So will you go paperless?

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