Fear of Paperless Failure

August 6, 2009 at 3:25 pm (Helpfulness, How-To, office, paperless)

No one said being paperless, or even paper-less, is easy. In fact, it’s just as much work as a paper filing system just in different areas. The payoff, however, is in productivity & time spent, something a paper filing system can’t and won’t ever offer.

 It’s tough being paper-less and takes a lot of effort.

I speak with a wide array of people on Twitter (follow me @thepaperlessasstnt) on the topic of paperlessness as well as keep my ear to the ground regarding paperless office processes and the frustration people encounter when launching into or maintaining their beautifully implemented paperless processes.

The #1 reason people don’t go paperless is simple: FEAR OF FAILURE.

We fear computer technology will fail us. We fear electricity will fail us. We fear we will fail ourselves by not being 100% paperless 100% of the time. We fear failure at the root of everything. We let our fear incapacitate us. It’s time to let that fear go because fear of failure is detrimental to our mental well being as well as the planet.

I know there is no manual to help us all out so here are my top tips to letting go your fear of failure when trying to go paperless:

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

2. TALK ABOUT IT. – Sometimes all we need to do is get a fresh perspective. Talk to people who are paperless about the good and the bad. Ask them what works, what doesn’t; Learn from their mistakes.

3. GIVE YOURSELF SOME LEIGHWAY! – Nothing in life is all-or-nothing. If it is, it shouldn’t be. Just because you want to go paperless doesn’t mean you can’t afford yourself the luxury of still maintaining the use of the occassional sticky note or to-do list that is written out. Fundamentalist paperless folks, while they have honest intentions, are intimidating. They scare me, too. Please don’t become one of them by just doing the best you can.

4. CLEAN OFF YOUR DESK & TAKE A STEP BACK. – Physical clutter creates mental clutter. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and like you’re being buried under a mountain of paper – it’s because you are and YOU are creating that mountain. In this electronic age, there’s a true zen to be discovered when you have a streamlined, clean desk. Weigh your options. Would you rather feel like you’re being smothered with your own paper or like you have a solid paper-free system that will make that feeling disappear? It’s always ultimately up to you. 

5. KEEP ON TRUCKIN’! ‘Nuff said. 🙂

Bonus tip –

ALWAYS PREPARE FOR THE UNEXPECTED – Fear of technology failure is a simple indicator that you do not have a continuity plan in place. When you know you’ve got a backup plan that will work even when your technology isn’t, jumping off the paperless deep end is refreshing.


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