The Voluntary Life: 115 How To Go Paperless

5 July 2013

115 How To Go Paperless

This episode is about how to go paperless and what the benefits are. Topics covered include:
  • How accumulating paper limits your flexibility and freedom 
  • Simple steps to reduce the paper you accumulate such as using e-billing and e-books.
  • Ways to minimise the paper books you own, such as selling them as soon as you have read them
  • Key tools for digitizing your paper and going paperless: a multipage scanner (such as the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i), a shredder and Evernote
  • Keeping labelling and metadata simple: the three key attributes of date, location and person/organisation
  • Options about where to store digital data: secure encrypted drives vs services like Evernote
  • What to scan and what to simply delete.
A good site for more tips about going paperless is DocumentSnap


  1. Great podcast!

    You mention buying books twice if you want to read them twice. Before I moved to the UK, I sold almost all my books. In the twenty years after that, I regretted selling only three of those, which I re-bought second-hand.

    If you have everything on Evernote, what's your contingency plan in case Evernote goes out of business or has a software problem that erases all copies of your electronic documents?

    One more question: where's your main community? I can't believe that you post dozens of carefully-prepared podcasts each year at, and each podcast attracts no more than a handful of comments.

    1. Thanks Roger! You can back up your evernote data (you hold a local copy too). There's more community on Facebook (see link to the right) but please do tell your friends and help spread the word about the podcast :)

  2. Great podcast, it inspired me to go paperless myself. I'm now in the process of selling my books to zapper and amazon. I'm really liking evernote so far and should be able to set up the digital filing system in the next few weeks. Can't wait to have a slightly more minimal life.

    1. Thanks Meeri and good luck with it! :)


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