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Blog: Surfing the Paper Wave
Lessons from My New Laptop

I have a new laptop! It's a Dell Inspiron 1525 running Windows Vista Home Premium.  It has a 2 G Intel Core Duo processor, a 160 G hard drive, a CD burner with DVD reader, wireless and Bluetooth capability.  Equally important is what it does not have—a webcam, a DVD writer, a fingerprint reader or a specialized graphics card for gaming.  After shopping the local computer emporiums and finding that their in-stock models mostly came equipped with these features I knew I wouldn't need, I custom-ordered it from Dell to get exactly what I wanted.  Even while customizing my order, I was saying no to things I didn't want, particularly trials of software I knew I wouldn't use.  I have equipped the computer with my Palm Desktop software, Microsoft Office Home & Student, and Quicken Home & Business. 
Now that I no longer have to "wait my turn" while sharing the family's desktop computer, I can truly consider how paperless I would like to go.  Do I want to convert to totally electronic bills and bank statements?  Do I have to print a "reference copy" of online receipts, documents I've created, or interesting forwards? How much routine correspondence can I handle exclusively via email rather than by telephone or U.S. Mail?
Lest this post be merely an exercise in self-indulgence (I do love my new toy!) I have some points to make that are relevant to organizing paper, or anything else:
1.   Do your homework so you know what you want.  In choosing this laptop, I thought about how I was going to use it:  to manage my business and my home with greater ease, and NOT as an entertainment center.  This let me cut through the popular but useless features found on laptops that were commercially available. Think about the clutter project that's bugging you the most right now.  What do YOU want the end result to be? What would help you get there?
2.   Expend the energy to get what you want up front, and save tons of energy later not wrestling with unnecessary clutter, complexity, and maybe expense.  Because I custom-ordered the specific laptop features I wanted, I will NOT be dealing with unnecessary equipment  demanding my attention, software hogging the computer's memory, or an inflated bill siphoning off my resources.  If you took the trouble now to get the precise tools you wanted to get your things in order, even if it's not what people say you "should" be using, how would that save you effort and energy later on?
3.   Consider what's possible with the tools you do have.  I'm not advocating that everyone go buy a laptop to go paperless, but do the tools you do own offer unexplored opportunities to cut down on paper clutter?  Can you transfer all those slips of paper with people's phone numbers and addresses into the Contacts program on your computer?  Does your cell phone have a voice recording feature where you could leave notes to yourself?  Would a simple school copybook give you an organized place to write shopping lists?
My quest for simplicity isn't over yet.  I wrote this post on the new computer using Word 2007, where previously I had been working in Office '97.  The current version of Word has a new "ribbon" of menu choices, many of which I don't use, and I've been customizing my toolbar as I've gone along.
Keep asking yourself what works for you, and keep tweaking until you have it.

posted on: 1/27/2008 10:30:00 AM by Suzanne Kuhn
category: Paper

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Discuss This Post

by maluco on 12/5/2008 3:51:47 PM:

i didnt understand this very much because my english is not good!!

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Surfing the Paper Wave

by Suzanne Kuhn

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About Suzanne:

Suzanne Kuhn is the owner of ACE ORGANIZING, offering affordable, customized, energizing organizing solutions to homes, schools and small businesses in the five-county Philadelphia area and central New Jersey. Although an organizing generalist, (she'll organize anything!) Suzanne has a growing specialty in paper and electronic filing systems and financial organizing. To receive her FREE booklet, 50 TOP TIME MANAGAGEMENT TIPS, email her at [email protected]

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