A Green Office: How I Ran My Business Without a Printer for a Year

A sheet of labels got stuck in my HP All-in-One LaserJet printer and I tried pulling it out. I got it, but I destroyed the sensor that lets the printer know I have a cartridge. After finding out it was almost as cheap to buy a new printer as to fix the old one, I threw up my hands.

I considered buying another printer but I realized how rarely I printed anything. It dawned on me to try doing without one. Here’s how I managed without a printer for a year.

  • Documents I need to sign. My clients either send training agreements as a Word document or a PDF. Word Documents: When the agreement is in Word, I pop in my signature from AutoText, save a softcopy, and email it back. I had already scanned in my written signature and saved it as a graphic. In Word, I saved it in AutoText (display the graphic on a page, select it, click Insert, AutoText, New, give the entry a name. Every time I need to sign a document, I click where I want the signature to go, type in the name of the AutoText entry, and press F3.) PDFs: When the agreement is in a PDF, I have a Custom Stamp with this same signature graphic and insert it as needed.

UPDATE: Here’s a video I recorded on how to do this. It’s part of my new series for Suite Minute TV: tips that will save minutes or hours every day for people who don’t have a second to spare.

  • QuickBooks invoices for clients. I used to print my client invoices (created in QuickBooks) and fax them along with all the receipts. Without a printer, I create a PDF of the invoice, scan all the receipts and attach them to the PDF and email everything. (Since I lost my scanner when I lost my all-in-one LaserJet, I either asked every establishment for an extra receipt, or I scanned all receipts with either my business card scanner (Executive CardScan) or my NeatReceipts(TM) scanner.I use the CardScan when I have one or two small receipts. I use the NeatReceipts units when I have several by taping as many receipts as possible onto one sheet of paper and then scanning.)
  • Shipping labels for packages and envelopes.For shipping, I either handwrite whatever I need, but most times I print everything with my Dymo LabelWriter(TM) Twin Turbo that doesn’t require ink cartridges.
  • Documents I absolutely had to print. On very, very rare occasions when I needed a printed document, I saved it on a Flash drive as a PDF and either printed it at a friend’s office up the street (on my way out), or I’d wait until I got to my hotel and printed it at their business center. This was never an inconvenience. My friend didn’t mind because every time I stopped by there he had a list of computer questions to ask me.
  • Outlook Calendar details to use on travel. I put all the details of my trip in the text area of a calendar appointment. All of this information gets synched to my PDA, but I like having it on paper in case the PDA locks up and it’s inconvenient to boot up my laptop. When I had a printer, I printed all this. Without the printer, I had to handwrite notes with the main information I’d need (flight and hotel info, host phone, etc.).
  • Documents I had to mail but wanted to keep a copy. When I needed to keep a copy of a document I needed to mail (e.g., a rebate form), I simply scanned it (with the Neat Receipts scanner).

After a year, I discovered I was doing just fine without a printer. Then I purchased a new desktop computer that came with one. It’s an HP Color Deskjet and does everything but fax. It’s nice knowing the printer is here if I need it, but you can go broke buying ink. It’s been two weeks and I’ve used it once (to copy a receipt for a rebate) because, as usual, I have no intention of printing anything unless I absolutely have to.

So rethink how you use your printer and let me know if you have any success with not using it.

PEACE.

Peggy Duncan, Time Management Expert

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13 thoughts on “A Green Office: How I Ran My Business Without a Printer for a Year

  1. Thanks for your comment. Actually, if someone wanted your signature, they can use anything you've signed (including from a fax), scan it, crop it and use it. So, no, I don't worry about this.

  2. I am a little concerned and amazed about the fact that you used an electronic signature. Isn't that dangerous as somebody can easily copy that? Maybe the documents you sign aren't that important, but I wouldn't use that for money transactions.
    ________________________________________
    Shared office space NYC

  3. Thanks for your comment. Actually, if someone wanted your signature, they can use anything you've signed (including from a fax), scan it, crop it and use it. So, no, I don't worry about this.

  4. I am a little concerned and amazed about the fact that you used an electronic signature. Isn't that dangerous as somebody can easily copy that? Maybe the documents you sign aren't that important, but I wouldn't use that for money transactions.
    ________________________________________
    Shared office space NYC

  5. WOW you sure do had explained it very well, well printers are really important in office works especially if you handle some printable docs from several clients and many others.

  6. Hey Iris, you're something else! From a hassle/time management standpoint, simplify just a little bit and get an inexpensive printer just to use for your coupons and docs you don't want to get caught printing at work. On the few occasions that I use my printer (e.g., boarding pass), I make sure I keep it in draft mode and black ink only printing.

    Otherwise, see if your store will accept a picture of the coupon (from your cell phone or digital camera). I tried that once and it worked!

  7. I've got you beat – going on three years without a printer! I PDF everything and upload to Google Documents, then if I need to print I'll either upload it to Kinkos for about 20 cents each, or I'll print it at work.

    The biggest hassle about being printerless is with using coupons. I don't want to use Kinko's for printing (they use good quality paper), and I don't think it'd be a good idea for printing at work. But for whatever reason, places like Borders still sends by e-mail coupons you have to print and take to the store! Makes no sense. Can you think of a workaround for that situation?

  8. Hi D, When I’m doing something like that, I move the email to my second monitor and then work on my laptop. (When you don’t have a printer, it’s amazing how you make do.)

  9. I use my printer once or twice a day, and could probably eliminate some of those. Usually it’s a client’s email, with a list of changes they’d like to an Excel file or database. I check the items as I complete them, and make notes on the printout as I work.
    Others are just a quick question though, and I’ll think about those before automatically printing them.

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