Fearing Cloud Storage? Here Are Some Thoughts On How To Organize Your Life

A photo of google drive cloud storage

Are you someone who fears the instability of a cloud storage system? Perhaps you have are looking for a better understanding of the unknown. It is common to wonder where your files are located in a cloud. While we will never become a completely paperless society, I started to focus on being less paper dependent a few years ago. Now I have a system in place and rarely pick up a pen or paper. It’s amazing, it’s simple and I want to share it.

Over the course of many years, I managed to surround myself with piles and piles of papers. What’s worse, most of them were not relevant to me on a daily, weekly, or even yearly basis. Something needed to change!

It Is The 21st Century - Time To Change!

My lightbulb moment came back in the summer of 2017 when I started doing some remote work for a tech company located in California. As I onboarded into their system, I was blown away at the lack of paper and pens in their office.

Employees would stroll in and out, carrying their laptop in tow. No one had any designated desks. In fact there were only a few empty countertops where people would take a seat when they needed to work.

There were no filing cabinets, no in baskets… it was quite a virtual company. It was unencumbered and refreshing. I loved it.

Now this is probably very normal to a lot of people, but I had been working in corporate America for decades, so I was indoctrinated with old-school methods. Those methods included filing cabinets, binders of printed material, and multiple copy machines to turn out soon-to-be-outdated printed documents.

a photo of a conference room table and chairs

Image by Pexels from Pixabay 

One of the most notable revelations was the concept of working inside of Google Drive.
All of their documents were updated and synchronized inside of the drive for immediate access all around. For those of you who already knew this, that is not how most companies functioned in the mid-2010s.

On my journey home, I decided I was going to rearrange my life to replicate that. I started this process that summer and my life has been absolutely transformed ever since.

Are You Using Outdated Technology?

Here’s a little tidbit on progress: If you have trouble finding some sort technology item in stores, it is probably outdated. For instance, are you still using flash drives on a regular basis?

If you can’t find what you are looking for, there is probably something newer, faster, and better that is available.

a photo of a very old computer and floppy disks

Image by Carlos LopezCastellon from Pixabay 

I was working in a local office in my town before that epiphany summer. One afternoon, an older workmate of mine emerged from his office to inquire if I had a spare floppy disk. Poor man. The ridicule he sustained from that simple question was cruel. Especially since I was going through basically the same situation just a few years later!

Time To Join The Cloud Crowd

I decided to start using Google Drive as a means of storing information after years of using portable flash drives. Like a lot of people, I had my reservations about using cloud storage. 

My first foray into cloud storage was with my iPhone. I understood iCloud, but I wasn’t comfortable with it. Moving my virtual life into the Google cloud felt a bit daunting. If you feel the same way, keep reading. 

But first, I had to get rid of all of this paper!

The first step was to invest in a good scanner. Perhaps you already have a printer that has a scanner option on it and that is amazing if you do. I do not love cheap little printers even though the price tag of $45-$65 is compelling.

A photo of an HP printer

If you need a scanner, you will want to invest in a very good printer that will scan clear copies.

I started the arduous process of opening every file, scanning documents, and then shredding. The sheer number of bags of trash that I generated was embarrassing. Every receipt, doctor bill, utility bill… anything I needed to keep was scanned into my new system of cloud storage.

Which Cloud Storage Will Work For You?

There are some good options for cloud storage out there now such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, One Drive… and even more off-brand options. For this blog post, I will look at Google Drive and Dropbox.  Because this new company was already immersed with Google Drive, that was the perfect choice for me. 

In Google Drive you can open the document in the cloud, update it, and save it right there. It took a bit of training my mindset to work online vs. printing documents and working on my desktop. However within a couple of weeks, I grew to love it. 

Like most people, I was very familiar with the Microsoft Office Suite. Some features on Google Drive are not as expansive as the Microsoft counterparts, and for those I will download, complete, and then upload.

For the most part though, I have been only working in a cloud. 

Cloud Storage

Dropbox is another popular option with similar features to Google Drive. With Dropbox though, you cannot work in that space.

If you have a document you have uploaded to save in Dropbox, you need to download it to your computer to work on it and then re-upload the latest version. Apparently the Dropbox mobile version allows you to edit within the app, but I haven’t explored that as yet.

Dropbox has a nice vault feature that provides one extra level of password security for you which Google Drive does not have at this time. 

Google Drive For The Win

Probably the one tipping point for me is Google Drive’s feature of being able to color code the files. This makes finding things just a smidge easier if you are moving fast as I do.
I have set up my files that replicate a file cabinet. Everything that would be in my old file cabinet are in my drive.
Stating the obvious, but the wonderful thing about having cloud storage is you can access anything you need on your phone.
So, now I have updated my process that when I get an email with an invoice or attachment, I save it as a PDF and upload it to my drive and never actually print it. The amount of paper I go through right now it is completely minimal. I do not even know if I use one paper pad in a year to jot notes! I love that!

A Final Note to Take Notes!

Speaking of pads, electronic note apps are an immense help as well. I can thank my daughter for this one! She has introduced me to Good Notes and it has changed my life.

I have also found Good Notes to be an amazing app and I will chat more about that on a separate blog but that has also saved a tremendous amount of paper in my life and made it easy to reference things on my smart phone as well.
There has been a slight learning curve with taking on a stylus in lieu of a ball point pen. However, Good Notes has probably been the biggest paper saver in my life. I love being able to reference notes on my phone as well.
I hope some of these tips are useful to you and perhaps even your own lightbulb moment. I think we all can benefit from sharing information about how to make our lives more eco-friendly. Happy organizing!

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Ellen Phillips

Living a Beautiful Life

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