The Elusive Paperless Office
Best Apps for Eliminating Paper Waste
Before the days of iPhone and iPads, the paperless office was nothing more than a mythical fantasy—an idea that was great in theory, but impossible in practice. But with the help of a growing number of iOS apps, today, reducing paper waste is a much more feasible endeavor.
While you may not succeed at getting rid of all of your paper, if you keep at it, you will find less mess cluttering your workspace, and perhaps more clarity in the process.
Capturing & Recording
Traditional note-taking requires paper, meaning you can lose your notes far too easily. Regardless of platform, Evernote (free, $5/month for Premium) is the ultimate place to store your stuff, from research for your next novel to collections of recipes and favorite blogs. Many of the apps I've listed here deliver their content effortlessly to Evernote. This useful app also lets you capture and search business cards so you can stop bringing them home from meetings and conferences. Evernote also lets you clip and organize interesting articles, or you can try Instapaper (free).
Digitize Your Paper Trail
If you want to experience a truly magical app, look no further than Postit Plus (free) by 3M. It captures whiteboards and flip charts filled with Post-it Notes, creates editable versions on your iOS device, and it exports to Dropbox or Evernote.
Another way to turn your good oldfashioned notes into digital records is with a Livescribe 3 smartpen (starting at $149.95), which magically transfers
your written words to the Livescribe + app (free), so you can capture notes, then recycle the paper. Livescribe pens also work with NoteShelf ($5.99), a one-stop app that turns handwritten notes and PDFs into canvases for annotation and markup.
In my experience, the best way to avoid paper is to pick one digital task manager and stick with it—otherwise you may relapse into writing notes by hand. Apple includes Reminders in iOS, but I use OmniFocus 2 for iPhone ($19.99), which integrates bidirectionally with the calendar (for more on OmniFocus, see pg. 54). The key feature for me is context, which lets me know what projects and tasks I should work on based on my location and meeting schedule.
Reading: Magazines, Books, and News
One obvious way to go paperless is to move your reading into the digital realm. While I still prefer holding a good novel in my hands, I can't say the same for the business book de jour or the ephemeral magazine.
I prefer to read business books via the Kindle app (free) and magazines on Zinio (free). Comic book aficionados will also find Comics (free) by Comixology to be an essential.
FlipBoard (free) takes popular news and social media feeds and transforms them into image-heavy digital magazines, while LinkedIn Pulse (free) offers a more browsable environment featuring content from major publications.
Subscribe to the newspaper just for the technology ads? Download flipp (free) and get digital copies of weekly deals without the rest of the paper.
Banking & Accounting
I use my First Tech app (free) to make deposits, track balances, and make transfers. If you sell things, consider Square Register (free) to turn your device into a paperless point-ofsale terminal, and PayPal (free) to keep track of what you sold.
Writing down passwords is a waste of paper and isn't secure. I haven't done that for years because of eWallet ($9.99). Sure, your web browser now keeps most passwords handy, but they may not capture items like frequent flyer numbers and membership cards. eWallet brings it all together in an encrypted file that also synchronizes with Macs, PCs, and iCloud.
TripIt (free) organizes all of my travel records in one place so I don't have to fumble for the car reservation after arriving at the airport. Tickets are also a thing of the past, thanks to apps from airlines such as Alaska, American, Allegiant, and Delta (all free), combined with Apple's Passport, which allows international travelers to simply show their phones at security and boarding.
If you typically write out long lists before a trip, download Packing Pro ($2.99), which provides a customizable list that will remind you of essentials you wouldn't have thought to pack.
I use scanning apps at conferences to capture sales literature and program guides. ABBYY Fine Scanner (free) does a great job of capturing content and integrating it with various file systems. Its big brother on the Mac helps when you want to take paperless to the next level.
Post-It Plus processes your notes into a virtual board that you can edit
Instapaper lets you clip your favorite web pages, eliminating the need to print articles. Invoke Instapaper from the Safari Share menu to
ABBYY Fine Scanner captures documents with your iPhone's camera and supports a variety of post-capture editing tools to ensure an
Email your travel confirmations to plans@tripit,com and Tripit will store
all of your travel plans in one place