How Do I Return A Phone To T-Mobile Trade-In How to Use Gmail for a Paperless Administration Workflow

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How to Use Gmail for a Paperless Administration Workflow

If you’re serious about setting up a business that can be run from anywhere in the world, paper won’t hack it. You need access to your entire administrative bumf history, but carting around lever-arched files and archive boxes can seriously add to your baggage costs. The obvious solution is to go paperless – something many businesses dream of, but many struggle to make it a reality.

A good step on the way to completely paper-free your life is to digitize at least the administrative part – documents like incoming bills, statements, bank documents, tax notifications, etc., which come in paper format, but are also growing. transmitted electronically. Whatever system you use, it should be part of a workflow where documents and communication, whether paper or digital, flow through a single process of inbox, processing, action and archiving.

My preferred tool for work is Gmail, which has the following distinct advantages:

  1. It’s free!
  2. The storage allowance is hefty, meaning it may be years before you run out of space to store your documents; In fact, this is unlikely to ever happen.
  3. It’s highly searchable, meaning you can easily find what you’re looking for once archived.
  4. It has powerful organizational components like labels.
  5. It includes the ‘Inbox’ which is the cornerstone of any good workflow.
  6. It’s backed by one of the biggest companies on the planet, so my data is safe.
  7. No need to back up or manage any servers, it’s all done for you.
  8. It is accessible anytime, anywhere in the world, from any internet connected computer.
  9. Essentially, it’s an email system, which means it’s very easy to get information.
  10. Email is common and compatible with most applications (such as desktop email apps).

How to set up the system

Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting Gmail up and running at the center of your paperless office and administrative workflow.

1. Set up a separate Gmail account for your paperless workflow

If you already have a Google account, you’ll need to set up another account to have a fully dedicated Gmail account. You don’t want to mix your regular email with your admin system. Although not so important at this stage, choose an address like ‘mycompanyadmin@gmail.com’.

2. Set up email redirection from your own address

For example, if you have the domain yourcompany.com, set up an address like ‘inbox@yourcompany.com’ that should forward to the Gmail address you set up. This gives you the advantage of getting used to an email address that has your own domain; Additionally, if you ever choose to use another provider instead of Gmail, you change the redirect target and continue to use the same email for your admin system.

3. Get an administrative email flowing into your INBOX

You’ve probably already signed up to 101 different internet services, some of which you pay for, and many of which send you monthly administrative-type emails, including statements, bills, official notifications, etc. Go into all these accounts and change them. Your new INBOX address is the email address they use to contact you. From now on, all of this distracting administrative stuff will land in your INBOX, separate from your normal, everyday email.

If you happen to get any admin-type emails in your regular email (and you definitely will, at least at first), dealing with them is simple – just forward them to your admin inbox.

4. Send your paper to your inbox

The rest of the administrative load you receive will likely be in paper format, some of which may come through the post, while others you may collect in person (such as receipts). You need to digitize it to get it into your new Gmail admin INBOX. Get yourself a document scanner, convert all papers into PDFs and email them to your INBOX.

As paper is harder to search digitally than material originating as email, I like to use a simple indexing system for all paperwork emailed to the INBOX – both myself and my post sorter use the following scheme:

  1. Paperwork is sorted into different types: invoices, cheques, general correspondence, receipts.
  2. Each batch is scanned and emailed separately. The nature of each batch is simply indicated in the ‘Subject’ of the email: Invoices, Cheques, General, Receipts.
  3. The sender, or originator, of each item is described in the body of the email. So, for example, for a batch of invoices from different suppliers, part of the email would simply look like this:

Supplier a

Supplier b

Supplier c

Nothing goes in the email except the PDF attachment.

This indexing framework means you can easily search the archive using Google tools to find anything you’re looking for, eg, ‘invoice supplier A’, which returns a list of emails containing invoices from supplier A. They are ordered chronologically, making it easy to find what you need. The advantage of using Gmail is that the search functionality is very powerful and you can always find exactly what you need using advanced syntax.

5. ALLOW TIME TO PROCESS INBOX

Now that all your admin – both digital and paper – is landing in your INBOX and out of your way, you can get on with your business. However, you need to periodically process the contents of the INBOX like a stack of physical mails. Rather than doing it on a continuous basis, it is better to do it in batches. Set aside a weekly slot to process your inbox and follow this procedure:

  1. Open each item and take appropriate action, ie, record invoices, expenses and payments, act on any notifications and reply to any letters.
  2. After processing, press ‘Archive’, which will remove the email from the inbox and place it in a folder called ‘All Mail’.
  3. Repeat until your INBOX is clear.

6. Use your archived mail to search for any documents you need to refer to

Now instead of your admin folders and files being neatly archived in Gmail, you’ve got access to it wherever and whenever. If you need a receipt from last year’s trade show, just go into your Gmail account and search for ‘receipt trade show’ and you’re done!

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