Going paperless: lessons learned

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teach an old dog new tricks

The latest rage

Going paperless is the rage these days, and rightfully so, I think.

My last post was about trying to function when your systems get knocked for a loop. Let me tell you, nothing knocks a modern, basically paperless system for a loop like losing your computer!

I don’t mean lose, like “misplace.” I mean lose, like “dead-and-buried-and-gone-to-heaven.” Luckily, no bytes were harmed in the loss of the computer; all data are present and accounted for. Backing up is important.

Lesson learned (a long time ago, really, but nonetheless, a good reminder).

Still, replacing the hardware means not only taking the time to find a suitable new unit and getting it set up. It also means re-installing all the programs that are resident on the computer, and syncing the computer, phone and iPad back together again. It’s a certainty that some of the programs have been updated with new functionality that needs to be learned. It’s really amazing how much we come to rely on being able to sit down at the computer and being able to just get to work. Something like a missing link or password, or a redesigned program can really knock us off-kilter. 

Of course, it happened just as a transaction was getting ready to close, and all the loose ends needed to be stitched up. You know, all the loose ends that live on the computer. I had to sheepishly turn the file into my office after closing. It’s supposed to be there a week before that.


Still, I’d rather do it this way than the old paper file method.

Going paperless

My company operates as a paperless office. Agents must submit everything electronically, and our commissions are even paid electronically. Paper files are simply not allowed. We have the technology, and there’s no reason to not use it. 

I was thinking today, as I sorted out a few more details on the new computer, how much my job has changed since I started. It’s a bit of a theme around here, but it still strikes me how much things have changed in the last 18 years. Sometimes, it’s not just the adoption of new tools, it’s the realization that some things need to be done differently, and some things need to stop being done completely.

I used to spend so much time making sure the files were organized exactly right so that I could find exactly what I needed. My logic, of course, is rooted in the dark days when I was learning the business, especially when I was doing loans and escrow work. We needed to document our files, and they needed to be consistently organized so that anyone who had need of them could quickly find what was needed. It was critical that all that paper be put into the right file, and into the right place within that file.

Now, all I need to worry about is making sure everything is placed into the file. Later — if later ever actually comes — I can sort it any way I need to. That, of course, is especially easy with digital files. The things I generate as I go through a transaction, but aren’t worthy of scanning and saving electronically just need to be saved. That’s all. Just saved.

What an epiphany! What a time saver!

Getting ready to defend myself

It used to be that files needed to be put together and stored so that if a transaction was ever called into question I could readily defend myself. I spent quite a bit of time getting ready to defend myself — via my files — from any subpoena or notice of arbitration.

Here’s the thing, I’ve never had to do that. All that time “properly” filing was wasted. Even the paper files. I’ve (finally) come to realize that the important thing is that I have the document or note — whether digital or paper — not the order it’s placed into a folder! If the time ever comes when I have to answer a call about one of my transactions, then I can spend the time organizing the file. Ironically, that would be a wise use of time at the point, as it would help me remember the transaction.

Huge lesson learned.

Sometimes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. It just takes us a little longer to see the light bulb glowing over our heads.

Lesson learned.

Until next time, remember I’m never too busy for your referrals.




Randall Brennan, REALTOR

Certified Negotiation Expert
Certified Investor Agent Specialist
Certified Military Housing Specialist

randall@randallbrennan.com | randallbrennan.com
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