Process It

Scanning a document is fine, but what do you do with it afterward?  If you just scan a bunch of files and have them scattered everywhere, it will be useless because you won’t be able to find things.

Enter the Process It step.  You will want to create a consistent system for managing your scanned PDFs so that you can retrieve them later and access the information.

Folder Structure

Many people make a folder structure that means something to them.  Here would be an example:

  • Home
    • Bills
    • Maintenance
    • Strata
  • Kids
    • Artwork
    • School
    • Medical
  • Taxes
  • Business
    • Receipts
  • Misc

You get the idea.  The key is to have things stored in a logical and consistent place.

Filename Convention

Having a scanned document named a32dfdfada332.pdf is not particularly helpful.

One trick is to name the file like this:  YYYYMMDD-Description.pdf .  That way when it is in the folder, the files will be sorted by date automatically.

For example, if I had a receipt for my ScanSnap I might call the resulting scanned document 20080529-ScanSnap1500m.pdf .  Then just from looking at the filename I know what it is.

Software

Having the files in folders works well, but to really take things to the next level many people like using a document-management software like DevonThink Pro Office for Mac or Rack2Filer for Windows.

Make Your PDFs Searchable

Many programs just scan your documents into a PDF that is basically just an image.  The Fujitsu ScanSnap comes with software that uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to make the document searchable.

Why is this important?  Lets say you want to find a receipt for your printer but you couldn’t remember where you had bought it.

You could go through your folders and try to find the file, or just type in “Canon” in Spotlight for the Mac or something like Google Desktop on Windows.  Because your PDFs are searchable, it would look through them all and quickly find the document with Canon in it.

Process It Now!

Whatever system you use, you want to make sure you do it in a consistent manner and do it right away when you scan it so that it is fresh in your mind.  Trying to figure out what a receipt was 2 weeks later is not fun.

OK, you have your documents scanned, you’ve processed them using your system, now it is time to protect yourself from identity theft and reduce clutter by shredding and recycling all that paper.

DocumentSnap Workflow: Scan It – Process It – Back It UpShred It