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Keep Your Paper to Yourself – Simplifying the User Experience

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Keep Your Paper to Yourself – Simplifying the User Experience

In the digital age, why do some companies insist on complicating the user experience with unwarranted paper?

“Sign on page 27 and email it back to me” she said

“Just duck down to the post office and shoot the receipts off to me” he requested

“I can’t accept a JPEG file” they replied

Come on people.

It’s a new age.

You have adapted to a fax free world so what’s with the ongoing obsession with paper?

I’m not even talking about the environmental impacts here (although they are numerous). Paper is goddamn inconvenient.

Let me share an inner circle story with you.

I have THREE school-aged children, I own a property, I am the paid CEO of somebody else’s company, and I run my own on the side.

There’s a lot of paper in my day to day life.

Do you know what happens to paper when it enters my household? It’s like single socks, container lids and the last Tim Tam. It disappears.

Despite my best attempts at implementing places where things belong and the vain attempts of kids, teachers and staff there is just something about paper and I. We do not, can not and will not cohabitate.

It’s not that I throw it away (well, probably not anyway), the fact is that just like my crazy curly hair it will JUST NOT STAY IN ITS’ PLACE.

My rage peaked just a few weeks ago when a well-intentioned (or just plain lazy) teacher sent home a solo piece of 80gsm white stock with a simple table (for my signature apparently) and a title to the effect of ‘would your child like to attend the gymnastics event’ – no date, no time, no cost.

Not only was this ludicrous piece of paper a clear waste of the ink and stock it was printed on, it certainly instigated a certain level of contempt that the recipient of the returned note found in the form of an asterisk – *depends on when and where it is and the cost.

And as for your request of me to print something and send it back to you. Are you freakin serious? Don’t you know that my printer is a good 20 meters from my desk, the ink was last refilled six weeks ago and the driver may or may not be compatible with my laptop today.

Printing on paper is going to take time. The time you could have saved me by sending a very simple editable PDF file, or even (breath hold) a simple Word document.

Oh, go on with your organisational systems, advice and best wishes. Quite frankly I’m at a stage in my career and life where I don’t need that. I just DO NOT, WILL NOT and as a result CAN NOT entertain your paper wielding obsession any more.

Oh I suppose there are some big ugly systems that I just won’t win the battle with (e.g. school notes) however, for the most part here is my response to the paper that assaults my space;

  • Take a picture of it and email it onwards
  • Place it in the big, big pile of other paper that I will look at someday after (and only after) I’ve sifted through the 500 or so electronic messages that somehow seem so much more important
  • Stick it on my bulging notice board and perhaps (and only perhaps) refer back to it should I remember at some point into the future
  • Put any relevant information into my diary, recycle the paper and hope there wasn’t a permission note required.

The long and short of it is that paper based communication takes time. Personally, I believe that its ‘ only place in today’s workplace is in handwritten cards delivered via slow mail as a demonstration of time taken to acknowledge another person. Now that’s something worth the tree it’s printed upon.

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