Be careful what you order

June 19, 2009 at 8:29 pm (Helpfulness, Nudge, office, paperless, Rant)

So this came in the mail for me today:



It really got me thinking. OK so nowhere on this sheet does it say that you’re signing up for the website listing (I sure as heck am not going to pay $177 to be listed in the PAPER phone book!) so I went to see what all they were selling me, just out of morbid curiosity I suppose, because they weren’t readily advertising physical space in the paper phone book.

The website then says this:



GET YOUR FREE LISTING NOW! I’m just wondering what exactly they want me to pay $177 for. Paper phonebook space??!? YIKES! I’m glad I checked this out. I’d feel terrible if I helped perpetuate the paper phone book proliferation by supporting this serice with money.

I think we’ll just stick with our Google Local Business Center listing for right now. It’s free too and I don’t have to figure out if they’re trying to help me or hurt me by subversively trying to get $ for advertising in the paper phonebook.

The Paperless Assistant


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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. 🙂

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Lunch & Learn: Paperless Ops Processes

June 10, 2009 at 1:26 am (Helpfulness, How-To, Nudge)

I came across an article today in my RSS that really got me thinking: 

“Over 50 percent of baby boomers print for archiving while less than 30 percent of young workers print.”

If that is the case, in order to reduce the burdensome money-suck known as Operations printing, wouldn’t a savvy office manager attempt to target baby boomers’ regular print jobs for process refinement? How would one go about that?

The answer seems clear to me, though I have been known to be more industrious than I’d like to admit: Teach a class about implementing paperless work processes to everyone.

I’m going to pitch it to my boss in the morning and see what he thinks. We’ve been throwing around “Lunch & Learn” ideas for the past couple of weeks, why not use the opportunity to reduce our departmental expenses while providing productivity enhancement classes as well?

The first step I’ll take will be to check with IT once I get the green light to make sure they can support people’s e-processes once they’re taught how to do it. 

Secondly then I’d do an applications audit with IT to see what tools are available to use such as capability to install “print to pdf”, get to know details like size limits on user drives which would host the paperless documents, etc

I’ll stay focused on getting the OK first, though. 😉 

I’ll keep you updated!

The Paperless Assistant

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The right tools for the right job

May 11, 2009 at 6:45 pm (Helpfulness, How-To, Nudge)

The office intranet; Most technologically up to date companies have them,  if you have access to one, USE IT!!

Just this morning I found out I had administrator privileges on the company intranet page. By golly, I’m about to use this tool because in terms of resource saving and as a wonderful Nudge, this is great.

The concept of “choice architecture”, which is really what Nudge is all about, is about giving people only the set choices in a certain context that result in a desired outcome.  What is indeed manipulation, is also a positive way to increase positive results when implemented thoughtfully,  used responsibly, and presented respectfully to your co-workers.

In this case the nudge will be adding the content I need to proliferate to the intranet so that the likelihood my info/memo email will be reduced thus drawing upon less physical resources (paper, printer use, printer toner) because the information people would normally want to print out in my email will not exist in the email, but on-line. My emails from this point forward will reference a link and minimal text. Adding the additional step will hopefully reduce the number of pages printed because it’s so easy to print emails but not as easy to get the email, click the link, wait for IE to open the page, read the info, THEN print the information.

I have the great luxury of having the Director of IT’s support in my desire to go paper-less.  When I sent an email this morning asking if I was able to utilize the company intranet page I specified, I was delighted and surprised to see his response; Here’s the exchange, in case you’re wondering how to get this information and from whom:

Good morning Senor!  

Do you have any problem with me utilizing intranet space to put information I need to proliferate instead of me sending content/graphic heavy emails? Seems like it would resolve a lot if I just send text emails that reference a link, not to mention I am trying to go as paperless as possible. That said, it’ll reduce the number of times my info memo/email is printed if the bulk of the content does not reside in the email.
Thoughts? I wanted to come to you first before I took the idea and ran with it. 🙂

The Paperless (Executive) Assistant


Good morning!

Currently, you are an Administrator on that particular intranet site.  You are more than welcome to modify the website as you see fit. 

Thanks for the effort of obtaining paperless.  We should all be a lot more conscious.

 Director of IT Services

Great! I have buy-in for my cause as well as the tools to use it. I’m jazzed!

Excitedly yours,

The Paperless Assistant

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