Paperless: Imperfection is a good thing!

June 16, 2009 at 6:18 pm (Helpfulness, How-To, Nudge)

Over at Virtually Organized this morning there’s an amazing post called “Want to Do More With Less? Become an “Imperfectionist”” that really has me motivated this morning to be productive but more importantly has me thinking about how imperfection is a crucial part of working in a paper-less environment. Here are the key points author Debbie provides to accepting imperfection and my notes in italics relating it to my paperless office experience:

1. Strive for excellence, but work to avoid perfection.

It’s tough enough to get participation in the workplace for any initiative. When you strive for paper-less excellence the quality of the service you provide is going to increase and your work will be better as a result. Anyone who’s ever had a perfectionist manager knows that when you strive for perfection, that is when you mess up the most. My hypothesis is that it’s due to the stress of KNOWING you HAVE to be perfect. 

2. Reduce unreasonably high expectations.

This is a biggie for those who are blazing the paperless trail. It’s hard not to get so wrapped up that our expectations of other people go through the roof. Be careful of being condescending to high-volume paper users about their paper consumption. Knee-jerk reaction for a lot of people when someone is being condescend is to automatically reject whatever it is they’re saying. This is not a good way to a)set an example and b)get participation in the paperless initiative for the long term.

3. Seek simplicity.

A lot of the perception I encounter about paperless is that it means things are more complicated. There are more steps to the process therefore it’s difficult. I completely disagree. Paperless puts everything in easier search parameters and I’d rather not sacrifice my productivity at work searching through filing cabinets for something I’m not even sure I know is there.

4. Ask for help.

For the paperless, help from others is another extremely crucial element for success. If you’re not vocal about your intentions, it’s hard to ask for help later if you need the help desk folks to locate an e-document gone lost somewhere on a server (for those in a smaller office and who don’t use a 3rd party for their e-document management).

5. Fake it.

In reality, my work is 90% paperless. I still use post-its for things and there’s still the element of incoming paper (mailed invoices, adverts, etc). I guess this part means “faking it” by announcing you’re paper-less even if you aren’t 100%. Today’s business environment hasn’t yet flexed it’s desire for paperless the way it will, it’s still important for you to “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” If you act the part of the paperless, you eventually will play the part of paperless. Patience. 🙂



  1. Debbie Jordan Kravitz said,

    Thanks for the kind words about my post! I love the way you applied my imperfectionist ideas to idea of being paper-less. You’ve shown that perfectionism can come in many forms, and can just as easily be overpowered. Good luck!

    • Desiree Kane - {d.birdy} said,

      You’re welcome! I was inspired by your post, so ultimately: thank YOU! 🙂 I follow you via RSS, it’s good stuff!!!!

  2. Fear of Paperless Failure « The Paperless Assistant said,

    […] 1. OWN IT. – Own your fear and own the fact that sometimes you’re going to be imperfect (that’s a good thing!). […]

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