Guest Blog: I’m done with paper
I don’t want you to get the idea that I am a technophile. In fact, in many ways I consider myself a neo-Luddite. I wear a wristwatch. I shoot skeet with an old fashioned double-barrel shotgun. I think we all agree that a charcoal grill will prepare food better than any microwave or immersion circulator. I drive a pickup that was new when mobile phones were still called “car phones.” Some old technology actually got it right on the first try. As I type this on a cloud-drive powered web app I am listening to music on my turntable. I prefer the sound of vinyl. So let’s not have any illusion that I am an apologist for the latest, greatest digital tech. Vinyl sounds better. Period.
That being said, I am done with paper.
I hate paper to the point that it embarrasses me that humans still use it. I honestly don’t understand it’s continued function. At all. Copy machines? Are you kidding me? I have had an email account since September of 1994. For those keeping score at home that’s 18 years. I have a smartphone, a tablet computer, and a laptop. Why is anyone handing me a piece of paper? I have heard every argument; most involve permanence or aesthetics. Neither is even remotely adequate. Paper is not in the least bit permanent. It gets wet, it burns, it is lost, it falls apart with age, its in your other bag, its in your other notebook, your dog ate it. While you can’t find that note you wrote, or that note someone else wrote and handed to you I’ll tell you what you can find: your phone; your iPad; your laptop. Because those are the things that are always with you.
I’m an outdoorsman. I remember years ago someone writing in to a hunting or fishing magazine and asking what the best knife to have was. The editor said “The best one is the one you have with you.” So what do you always have with you? What do I always have with me? Quick answer: “not paper.”
I’m not a technophile, as I’ve already admitted. I’m not an acolyte of Apple, or the latest/greatest, but here’s what I got: I have a Kindle Fire, a tiny, little, ultra-portable, almost comically tiny, Asus laptop, and a Samsung phone that runs Windows Phone 7. I always have at least one of these things with me. No matter what. And these three things have helped me go paper free in 2012. And going paper free has saved me hours of time every week. It has saved me so much time that it has almost added a day to my week.
Here’s where it gets really crazy: I’m a bartender. If going paper free can add that much time to a bartender’s week, think what it could do for you, a person that uses tech as a much more integral part of your job.
Just as an example here is what going paper free has done for me and my business: Until very recently I would go in to work on Wednesdays to do inventory and order liquor, beer, and wine for the restaurant with my laptop and a thumb drive. Upon arrival I would find a computer in the office that had Microsoft Office and was also hooked up to a printer. I would print off an Excel file and then with a pen (gasp) walk around with a clipboard and write in the counts of what we had in stock. Then, as though we were living in the 1980s, I would reenter the numbers into my laptop on the same Excel file and then, using the thumb drive and a computer hooked up to an office printer, print it out for the owner so he could look at it and then pass it on to the accountant.
This is 2012. What have I been doing this for?
We are twelve years past the date at which I was promised we would have flying cars, ray guns, and interstellar travel. I’ve known very well that this is an antiquated approach. But, like most, I continued because its the way we’ve been doing things for awhile. It seems easy. Its familiar. I’ve been saying to everyone at work that I’ve been wanting to go paper free, but I hadn’t had the guts to actually do it.
Two weeks ago I finally had enough.
I loaded my Excel inventory file. I walked around the restaurant and added the counts directly into my comically tiny laptop. I then saved it to the cloud using Microsoft Skydrive (not an official endorsement since I’m also a huge fan of Evernote, Amazon’s Cloud drive, and the “Writer” web app for Chrome that I’m using to compose this piece) so that I could access it with any of the internet connected computers in our office; and would not have to send it to the boss or the accountant because they too could look it up on the cloud.
Steps eliminated. Elegance achieved. Time saved. For all involved. And when I say “time saved” I really mean it. I’ve gained probably three hours to my Wednesday. On top of that I look at how easily I can access any past information on any computer anywhere, including my phone. Its ridiculous. No thumb drives. No printers. I don’t need my laptop to even be with me; I just jump on the computer in front of me, or my phone, and access the cloud drive. That easy. The tools have been in front of me for awhile now, I finally picked them up.
I’m just a bartender.
Do you have a fax machine in your office? A copy machine? Have you ever asked why? If you work in social media and your friendly neighborhood bartender decided that fax machines became outdated 18 years ago when he got his first email account you need to reevaluate your life.
Do yourself a favor, use the phone in your pocket and the computer in front of you, save a few trees, and save yourself a ton of time.
Go paper free. Trust me, you’ll love it.