opinion

Breaking an Addiction to Paper

Juicy Jay

Ideas were coming from everywhere and I wanted to do them all. First it was the Post-It notes. Everywhere. Endless yellow notes with scribbles that were barely discernable. Then came the notebooks, scraps of paper, as the ideas grew as quickly as my company. Affiliate promotional ideas, scripting ideas, and improvements for my advertising platform, JuicyAds.

I have always been addicted to paper. I prefer magazines on the plane while I travel, even in the years of the iPad and Kindle. I commonly printed massive amounts of emails and other digital artifacts that inspired ideas that I did not want to lose. However —that’s exactly what happened. Things got lost. Papers got sorted, filed, and then when I could not find what I wanted, the notes and concepts got rewritten, re-filed, re-sorted. Later, the original files would re-appear, by then they were in triplicate of the original. I was losing hours of productivity every week, just looking for files. I admit, I had a problem with paper abuse, I should have sought out a 12-step program.

I was losing hours of productivity every week, just looking for files. I admit, I had a problem with paper abuse, I should have sought out a 12-step program.

Cheap printer cartridges kept my addiction alive. Luckily I had an old Canon printer that I could buy cartridges in bulk for $2 and $3 each. Printer Ink in fact, is one of the most expensive fluids in the world. Many people get hung up over the cost of gasoline ($3.20 a gallon) and ignore the cost of bottled water ($6 a gallon at $1 a bottle). Printer Ink on the other hand, can cost upwards of $50,000 a gallon to the end consumer (depending on your cartridge).

Fifty-three; The number of flights I took in 2013. Coincidentally, I’m writing this article during a 30-minute delay for my Southwest flight. I started traveling a ridiculous amount after my marriage to “The Blonde” ended. Traveling so much set me free from everything that reminded me of her, but conflicted with my paper-addicted life. I couldn’t carry mountains of files with me, and I cringed at the thought of those files getting lost. With the “office experiment” fully underway (read in XBIZ World’s February 2014 edition) transporting files between locations was simply a pain. Finally, I was planning to move. The overflowing amount of paper was just one more thing that was going to have to be transported. The solution at the time was seemingly impossible. My life had to go paperless.

Hype aside, “going paperless” makes a lot of sense in a world full of documents and tons of data. We even store photos on our computers rather than in photo albums. A centralized location where all my documents would be and take up nearly no space whatsoever — it made complete sense. However, to someone who printed everything, kept everything, the goal of going paperless was the same as waking up one day and deciding to climb Mount Everest.

At its peak, if you stacked everything from my filing cabinets, file totes, piles on desks and the floor, my mountain of documents would be over 40 feet high. If you looked out the fourth-story window of an office building, you would see my pile of documents.

The best way to start? By not adding more to the pile, which took a complete shift in decision making for what got printed and what did not. Any digital documents, contracts, or anything that was digital and was just going to be printed and stored anyway, was never printed again. I only printed documents that I needed to write on, or that required my signature. The next step was to setup a filing system on my computer and start scanning in those old documents. Papers that I had previously had a digital copy and printed it — were scanned and paper copy destroyed. Many hard-copy documents were still kept (for my divorce or receipts and papers related to income tax) but everything else was being digitized and destroyed.

Since the start of going paperless just six months ago, we have removed over two complete filing cabinets of documents. There is more room in my office, my life and business is more portable, and its easier and quicker to find everything. Without the additional clutter, my mind is also more organized and able to tackle the day of running one of the world’s largest ad networks without distraction. Now, Somehow, Mount Everest doesn’t seem so difficult. Anyone know a Sherpa?

Juicy Jay is CEO and founder of JuicyAds.com. Follow Jay and JuicyAds via Twitter@juicyads.

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