Obviously if we are going to reduce the amount of paper we keep around and make it useful, we need a way to scan it to some usable form.
Yes! I Already Have A Scanner
Easy now. If you already have a flatbed scanner or an all-in-one that does scanning too, yes it will probably do the job.
However, be honest with yourself. I know for me, if I have a stack of documents that I need to scan, and I have to sit there and put each page on there one by one, I am just not going to do it. My system is going to fall off the rails fast.
If you do have the discipline to do it, go for it!
OK, Which Scanner Do I Need?
You want a scanner that can do duplexing (scan 2 sides of a page) and has an automated document feeder (so it brings in each page like a fax machine)
I like and recommend the Fujitsu ScanSnap. Why? It takes different sizes of paper and scans 2 sides with the touch of a button. Just throw what you want to scan in and hit the button. Very easy and fast.
Which ScanSnap Is Best For Me?
It depends on whether you have Mac or Windows, how much you want to spend, and how heavy-duty you need. This Fujitsu ScanSnap comparison page shows four possibilities.
What Is A Good Scanning Workflow?
There are two schools of thought, and you have to go with what works for you.
Productivity people and GTD purists will say that as you get each peice of paper you should scan it right away and be done with it.
Others prefer to keep a folder and collect to-be-scanned pages until it gets to some certain size (say 10 sheets) then do it in batches.
Which one is best depends on you. Whichever way you do it, its important to do it on a regular basis.
How Should I Scan Things?
You definitely want to scan things to PDF documents. Don’t bother scanning to images.
It is up to you whether you want to make the PDFs searchable (don’t worry, more on that in the Process It section), but I do recommend it.
If you’ve got your scanning workflow in place, it is time to actually do something with those PDFs. Let’s Process It.