Printing is Just a Bad Habit

Categories: Philosophy
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Published on: October 14, 2014

Printing is not about learning new processes or reinventing the wheel, it’s simply about breaking bad habits.

I sat down at a coworker’s desk the other day to work on her computer, and I found a stack of printed emails on one side of the desk. Most were simply one or two lines of text, and none of them had any additional notes or other information. Apparently that stack of paper is her reminder and to-do list, combined. Even without switching to her Google Calendar, or using an app like Todoist or Evernote, she was already paperless by leaving them in her inbox or sorting them into folders. She’s simply choosing to print because it’s what she’s used to.

Her case is not unusual, nor is it limited to education. My wife is a loan clerk, and she handles the paperwork for two loan officers. The bank has gone paperless with specialized software to manage all of their loan applications and related documents, making filing and searching easier. Meanwhile, her two bosses still print applications, even though they will probably never see that paper again because after their initial review, they will search the paperless system the next time they need the app. (And then they will probably print the app again.)

These are not needs, these are habits.

My coworker has dealt with hand-written notes for decades, and she replicated them with a printer. My wife’s bosses are used to reviewing loan applications by hand, so they hit that print button.

It’s pointless, it’s inefficient, and it’s wasteful. Until they treat this habit like any other bad habit that needs to be broken, there will not be any change.

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