How to be a minimalist remote worker
"Sorting papers rule of thumb: Discard everything once." - Marie Kondo
Do your piles of paperwork "spark joy"? Probably not, so maybe 2021 is the year to follow the advice of minimalism influencer Marie Kondo and clear the home office clutter.
According to Upwork, 73% of all teams are predicted to have remote workers by 2028. With more companies joining the telecommuting trend for the long haul, now is the time to get your paperwork organized to ensure maximum productivity away from the office.
How to declutter your workspace in 5 easy steps
Giving your remote work space a minimalist reboot has been shown to help reduce distractions, boost creativity, relieve stress, and get better sleep. Not sure where to start? Follow these tips to clutter-free your home desk and go paperless overnight:
1. Digitize paper documents with your mobile
Notes, letters, receipts, invoices, records...Working from home swamped with these kinds of pieces of paper can make you disorganized and distracted. Reducing paper use can help clear your mind, but some paper based documents can't simply be thrown away in the recycling bin.
If you have important documents that need to be stored for safekeeping, you can make electronic versions of them using your smartphone.
You'll find multiple mobile scanner apps on the App Store and Google Play that allow you to snap photos of your paper documents and create clean digital copies. These can then be stored safely in a cloud-based service such as Google Drive or Dropbox, or on your local device for easy access in the future.
If you're ready to say goodbye to the filing cabinet once and for all, read our post on how to scan and save documents on your mobile device.
2. Invest in quality software
You may have heard of the saying "out of sight, out of mind", but once you've cleared the paper mess off your desk and taken a sigh of relief for your KonMari efforts, it doesn't mean you can just forget they existed altogether. Just like you used to sort your paper items in a file organizer or folders (or shoe boxes!), you'll now want to do the same with those digital docs.
To set up an effective paperless filing system, your next step is to install some reliable document management software. Depending on the type of features you need, you'll find some services more useful than others. For example, if you just need a place to order and store files in categories, Evernote is a must-have.
But if you require more specific document editing tools to convert PDF files to other Office formats, annotate text, rearrange pages, or compress files for emailing, a free PDF modification service such as iLovePDF is a great option. The mobile version also acts as a portable e-Reader so you can take your work with you when you leave the house.
There are plenty of great technologies available to help you keep paper minimal and manage your documents from home. Just remember to safety-check the software of choice first before installing them.
3. Ditch the pen n' paper note-taking
How many post-it notes and to-do lists do you make each week that end up cluttering your desk space? Instead of accumulating used scraps of paper, you can opt for simple, easy-to-use applications such as Trello or Google Keep to take digital notes in no time. Many note-taking apps are free to use and allow you to share your task lists with your team remotely across multiple platforms.
4. Sign contracts and forms electronically
If you're a remote worker who deals with agreements and chases up clients for signatures frequently, you will benefit from e-signing. Not only will it significantly reduce the huge wad of paper that flows into your intray, but it will also save you time, money, and hassle.
Signing electronically allows you to place your signature on a document quickly and send it off without needing to print it. You can also collect somebody else's signature on a contract without meeting them face-to-face. Find out how to e-sign PDF documents securely online.
5. Say "no thanks" to the non-essential
Now that you've gotten rid of the unwanted paper mess and neatly stored and managed your documents on your computer, there's just one thing left to do: Make sure it stays that way!
Ask yourself: How much unwanted mail do I receive in the post each week? If companies are sending you promotions that you don't want to read, send them an email to unsubscribe from their mailing list.
Then, to further reduce any incoming mail through your letterbox, contact your utility bill services and other providers and ask them to switch you to e-invoicing.
Finally, try to avoid printing anything. You will be surprised by how many things you can do online with your documents without having to hit the "Control-P". It's just a case of researching the right tools on Google and taking your pick.
The bottom line: It's your remote space
Whether or not you consider yourself to be a minimalist, following minimalistic approaches in your Work-From-Home can help you concentrate on what matters and boost productivity levels.
Ultimately, your WFH setup should be a calm, focused space that breathes creativity and inspiration. Adopting paperless, digital methods and taking control of what arrives on your doorstep is a great place to start.
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