Let’s get to the point – I’d rather watch 365 episodes of “Days of our Lives” than go through this again.
You see, we were burgled some time ago, & I’d like to share with you how this helped us become paperless. (Yeah, you read that right…)
On “Burglar Day” (Hallmark, referral fee, please) Beagle Boy 1 & 2 took great delight in forcing the locked filing cabinet open & dumping years of paperwork onto our awesome crème carpet.
Most colourful, I thought to myself as I stood there surveying the mess. “Most annoying,” my wife exclaimed. (I agreed with her – I’m good like that…)
Every cloud has that silver lining … In this case, the crime accelerated our move to a “paperless” home.
(As a matter of history, I had already been down the path of “going paperless” some time ago & had canned the idea. This was really due to the inefficiency of the flatbed scanner that I had used, at that particular time. That’s ANOTHER story…)
So, after some thorough research, I chose the right scanner for my next paperless trial (see below) & was about to start “the process” when we were burgled.
“The process” I’m referring to is the steps you should take to go paperless & I’d like to share with you the 3 things we did to help us go paperless:
1. Choose The Right Scanner Or You’ll Go Frigging Mad
In my case, I choose the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500. There are many reasons – simply Google & YouTube for dollops of information on this range of scanners, but MY major reason was that the software & scanner gave me the ability to scan & file automatically, whilst allowing excellent search options. (OCR – Optical Character Recognition – go on, stop staring – Google that term while you’re about it…)
2. Get Family “Buy In” Or You’ll Go Loopy
Well, by family, I really mean your partner. (I checked with the silkworms, fish, cat, hermit crabs, pet mice & guinea pigs but they seemed uninterested in my paperless passion.)
You really need to get all incoming paper (like receipts & warranties, and incoming postal items) into one spot for processing. And you have to plan it and repeat the habit until it’s an automatic family habit.
Here’s a 60 second IPhone clip – it’s all child’s play with Wife Rene and Daughter Savannah getting involved, for a small appearance fee.
3. Write Down Your Incoming Paper Flow & Evolve It
And the third step is to decide how you’ll sort the paperwork for scanning & processing.
- For example, which folders do you want to save the files into?
- Do you want the scanner to scan both sides of the document?
- What format (PDF etc.) do you want?
You can hand draw this paper flow or use software. (I used Microsoft Visio – quick and easy!)
Here’s what I did – it might trigger some ideas for you. Here’s a major tip and I’ve seen this repeated in other blogs – KEEP IT SIMPLE to start!
And another quick point – I scan & save Receipts & Warranties directly into Evernote
and share that folder with management (my wife). For our small business I scan directly into folders in Dropbox and I share that folder with our Bookkeeper/Accountant, so it’s easy for them to track documents without having to call us
Here’s what happens to the filing of the electronic docs once we’ve scanned them
So there you have it. The three steps we used…
Is it perfect?
Nope. But I don’t file anything into the filing cabinet anymore and I can find documents much easier.
And it keeps getting easier, as you evolve your processes. (Oh, you may have to change your partner if they don’t come into line – keep that as an option. Okay, only joking.)
Now stop thinking about it. Take the first step and you’ll soon be sailing smoothly, quicker than you can say “paper cut.”
Thanks Peter! If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and I will try to get them answered for you.
(Photo by lydiashiningbrightly)