My desk is cluttered with a plethora of papers and notes. I have UPS receipts, sales receipts, a gym class schedule, personal training session receipts, insurance documents … you get the idea. I keep most of these papers in large wire racks and small weighted document holders. While being very messy it also increases my stress level. I feel overwhelmed just looking at it.
This situation has made me decide to go paperless. Being an avid Evernote user, I happened to notice they have a very expensive Fujitsu scanner for sale in their online store. I didn’t want to spend over $100.00 on a scanner so I found a very capable, high-speed model on Amazon for only $69.99. The model I purchased is the Canon Lide 210. It has great resolution at 4800×4800 dpi which is suitable for documents and photographs.
There is an abundance of information on this topic so I will briefly outline the process I have arrived at thus far.
Developing Your Strategy
Going paperless requires a good strategy for storing scanned notes and documents. Choosing unambiguous note titles and filing systems facilitates efficient note creation and storage. This will allow fast retrieval of information in the future.
Buying a Scanner
For the most part you don’t need an expensive scanner. One consideration is a duplex scanner for two-sided documents. Another is a scanner with a document feeder for large batches of papers. The Canon Lide 210 that I purchased has an expanding “Z- Lid” to accommodate books. A fast scanner that can handle A4 or smaller sizes should suffice for most people. A resolution of 4800×4800 dpi is suitable for documents and photographs. Evaluate your needs and research the ratings before investing in a scanner.
Using Cloud-based Software and Apps
It’s good to be able to access your digital notes and documents from anywhere, on your cellphone, tablet or your computer at home. A cloud-based platform like Evernote used with Apple devices provides a convenient way to add new notes and view notes while on the go. You never know when you may need to add or read notes using your mobile devices.
Evernote is a great solution for my paperless workflow. It is a robust platform that consists of cloud-based servers and applications for the both the Mac and iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Information is stored in notes that include titles and just about any content you wish to add, including text, web pages, images, voice memos and files. Notes in Evernote can be synced across all your devices. They are stored in notebooks that you create and name. There is also a “web-clipper” extension for Safari that allows you to select webpage content that you want to save into Evernote.
The Evernote platform provides a central location for your digital data. While other cloud based solutions are also available, Evernote is very capable, reliable and in most cases free for people that don’t store vast amounts of data. There is a maximum upload allowance of 20MB per month. Users that exceed this amount wll need to upgrade to the premium service. I have never come close to exceeding the monthly limit but business users will have to upgrade to the premium service.
Developing a Digital Filing System
It is important to develop a digital filing system to meet all your needs. This is primarily based on the types of notes, documents and media you have to store. You can use keywords and note titles in Evernote notebooks to organize your notes. Choose notebook names that are unambiguous to prevent confusion when adding new notes. You won’t have to decide which notebook to store a note in if your notebooks are named very clearly. Note titles should also be easily understood and making them concise improves readability. Following this strategy will ensure quicker retreival of your notes in the future. The Evernote search “engine” can look at note titles and note text.
Using a Robust Backup Plan
Using a cloud-based solution provides a good backup for all of your digital documents. Cloud servers are redundant and reliable. Having the data stored on your computer and mobile devices provides further protection against data loss. You do need to plan ahead to avoid data loss and data corruption.
A robust strategy for backing up all of your data is beyond the scope of this post but I will suggest that you have backups of your entire hard drive on multiple external drives and that you store these drives in different locations if possible. I have password protected external drives at home and at another location in case of fire or theft. The backups are performed at regular intervals and are staggered over time to allow recovery from data loss or corruption. My daily backup takes care of immediate data and the offsite backup which occurs every two weeks helps avoid data corruption and virus issues, at the expense of possibly losing two weeks of work. I recommend storing all of your sensitive information on local and backup drives only. If you never want anyone to gain access to passwords or bank account numbers you shouldn’t put them in the cloud or on any of your hard drives.
Develop your own strategy for going paperless while considering all of your needs. There is no “one size fits all” solution. Doing research online will help you cover all your bases.