Does This Paper Make My Butt Look Fat? Confessions from a Paperless Procrastinator

Maybe it’s the holidays, and like the line in one of my favorite holiday movies “…because it’s Christmas, and at Christmas you tell the truth…”, I feel compelled to reveal some truth…I’m a personal paper mess.  And while this may not be a serious character flaw, it’s kind of ironic, since I’ve worked at SmartVault for over 4 years now. And we are in the business of helping tens of thousands of people go paperless every day. Just so you don’t think I’m a complete nut, I feel compelled to tell you that my business files are neatly stored, accessed and managed all using our fabulous service, however in my personal life, I have to say, I’m somewhat of a paperless procrastinator (if that’s a thing…which as of now, I’m sure it is).

Dania’s bill filing ‘system’

And I have no excuse, because one of the perks of working here is that our fearless leader, Eric, gives us all FREE accounts for personal use!

It’s not that I’m not sold on the value of the cloud, any time, anywhere access, the whole going paperless thing – I’m totally sold. I talk about this value all day, every day. But I have to admit, it’s been hard to shake the old habits in my personal life. Like millions of you, my husband and I have a home office that has morphed into a place where we both work for our jobs and we also do our ‘home’ work too. Bills come in, they get paid, and they get (gasp) filed in one of those cute wicker type baskets you get from World Market or Pottery Barn (this picture is the real deal people – taken today in my home office). At the end of the year, we go through the files and shred what we’re done with. That’s about as paperless as we’ve gotten.

We are also the parents of two kids, so there is also a mountain of school papers, calendars, extracurricular activity schedules and papers, invitations, report cards, etc. – that all just kind of sit in a pile. I tend to go through this weekly to see what I need to do (or remember to do) and then I just shuffle the rest of it around. If it’s important, I put it by the coffee pot (just keeping it real here).

And maybe like many of you, we have files for other documents that are important, but that we don’t need access to monthly or even annually (shot records, passport copies, birth certificates, documents for our taxes, etc.).

Just to complete the picture (and save some face too), neither my husband nor myself are technology neophytes. We own a couple of iPads, everyone in the family has an iPhone (a few of us even manage to talk to Siri regularly), we manage to stream movies with some regularity, and my husband teaches at least one or two of his college courses every semester online – we even have a weather station set up that would allow him to literally broadcast a weather forecast from our house! So…we’re not techie-adverse by any stretch.

So why haven’t we taken the leap to clean up our old paper-heavy ways? I asked him this last night as he was stewing around the office complaining that it was a mess (a conversation we have every few months). Neither of us had a good answer other than it’s a hassle to do it. It’s a HASSLE to sit down, get your scanner out, plug it in and commit yourself to changing your old ways. You have to consciously decide that today is the day to change. Like working out, saving money or committing to using that juicer you got for Christmas last year, it requires a conscious choice to do it. No matter what.

So I’m on a personal journey of sorts – to tackle one project each month that will move me closer to that paperless nirvana I’m seeking. It’s just silly to try and tackle all of it at one time. And I know myself, and I’m much more apt to continue a project where I can celebrate some little successes along the way – kind of an instant gratification thing. And somehow if I am successful, I know I’ll feel ‘lighter’ all the way around. And come on, at this time of year when we are all feeling incredibly heavy (with food, over the top decorations, debt…or maybe just general consumption), couldn’t we use a little lift?

Where to start? I think the obvious place for me is to tackle the ‘personal bills’ file and yes, pile. To get some online organization that we can use to clear out the paper we’re storing and to work to change our ‘bill paying workflow’. I’m giving myself the month of January to get this accomplished. Then I’ll move on to the ‘kid’ pile!

So…who’s with me?

If you’re a self-proclaimed paperless procrastinator, why not take this journey with me? And if you’re smiling smugly about now because you are sitting in a clean office wondering how the likes of us are still roaming the street – then please share some ideas of what worked for you. Please…

Stay with me and here’s to a much ‘lighter’ New Year!