The goal of a paperless office has been an idea for a long time. There have been some successes along with some miserable failures as we realize our dependence on having paper copies of some things is very strong.

However, any effort that we can make as individuals to go as paperless as we can will help reduce the amount of paper we use overall and hopefully help us reduce that impact on the environment.

One program in Office, OneNote, has helped me to go paperless on a lot of levels. One specific example I can give is that I used to print out 20-25 articles from the web weekly to use as show notes for my Observed Tech podcast.  Once the show was recorded all that paper would go in the recycle bin.  Granted that is way better than just throwing it away but it is still wasteful of resources like ink, toner and wear and tear on my printer.

So when OneNote 2013 came out and a version was made for the Microsoft Surface RT modern interface I decided to make that leap to have a paperless podcast production process. So far it has worked well and I now have a digital archive of past show notes and links that I can go back to if necessary. That archive is saved in the cloud on SkyDrive and I can access it with any of my Windows based devices.

If you are looking for a way to begin a move to a more paperless office then this new download from Microsoft might give you some ideas and tips to get it started.

The 15 page Word document has a lot of information to get you rolling including these top 10 ways to use OneNote 2013:

  • Review and comment on a document. If you’re asked to review a file (a PowerPoint® deck, for example), print the file to OneNote, and then annotate it with typed or handwritten notes.
  • Go shopping and capture screen shots as you go. For example, search for a new car. Easily capture and send screen shots to OneNote as you do your research.
  • Organize your work and life. Store and categorize the things that are most important to you in a central location. This information might be in email, different programs like Word, Excel®, or PowerPoint, in a paper notepad or printout, or even on sticky notes.
  • Share your notes. OneNote is all about sharing. Share a notebook with your teammates on SkyDrive Pro and then edit together in real time. If you want to share notes in a Lync online meeting, you can start with Outlook or Lync. Or share a notebook (i.e, budget, to-do list, or product research) with a family member on the consumer version of SkyDrive.
  • Take your work with you. If you upload a notebook to SkyDrive Pro, you can take your work with you and easily access the notebook from another Windows 8, Windows RT, or Windows Phone device.
  • Create a To-Do list. Add a To-Do-list to projects that you’re working on, and then mark off items as you go.
  • Sketch an idea. Use OneNote to jot down anything that’s on your mind. Sketch out an idea for a floor plan or a server topology and watch your ideas grow.
  • Take down random thoughts with Quick Notes. If you have a random thought that you don’t want to forget, jot it down as a Quick Note. With a Quick Note, you don’t have to think about where to place it in a notebook. You can always move it to a notebook section later. Or not.
  • Take lecture notes. Sometimes you can’t write or type fast enough to take down everything in a meeting or lecture. With OneNote, you can record audio (and video) so you won’t miss a beat.
  • Experiment! There’s no right way or wrong way to use OneNote. Organize as much or as little as you like. Jot down an idea and watch it grow and take shape over time.

You can grab the entire document from the Microsoft Download Center – Go Paperless with OneNote 2013 (524KB).