The Paperless Office – Scanning: Then and Now

I’ve never been overly neat in my office. Usually piles of papers lay strewn about. About 1997, I thought it might be time to “go digital”, get a scanner, and reduce the paper clutter. Disk drives were just starting to get cheap enough to handle thousands of scanned documents. (Remember, in 1997, there was probably no USB, and definitely no YouTube; and no “cloud backup”; I think I got on the internet in 1995 or 1996). I can’t remember which scanner I bought, probably an HP, and it either came with Nuance’s ScanSoft Paperport or I bought the software separately.  At some point, I remember owning a scanner with a paper-feeder, but was really disappointed to learn that it only took 8.5 x 11 paper; thus making scanning of receipts and small invoices almost impossible.

Paperport seemed to work well for scanning, organizing and labeling the documents. However, I seem to remember them wanting me to upgrade about 6 months to a year. They are now on version 12. Version 11 on Amazon, however, only gets 2 out 5 stars. For whatever reason, probably failed disk drives and not good enough backup, I don’t think I still have any of the scanned docs from back then.

A few months ago, I started using Evernote. It allows me enter notes and upload various types of documents, and indexes them quite well. I’m still using the free version, but will probably upgrade to the paid version before long; one of the biggest benefits will be OCR/indexing of scanned/PDF documents. Although I started using Google Apps (with GMail and GoogleDocs) about two years ago, I still find Evernote fills a niche that GoogleDocs does not.

In trying to learn how to best get the most use out of Evernote,

Doxie Scanner

I watched some of their videos which describe tools and partners that work well with Evernote. This lead to me buying a Doxie scanner.

It’s extremely portable and runs off USB power. This was perfect for me, because I typically work “on the road” as a consultant.

What I like about Doxie:
1) It can save the scanned image as a PDF, and/or immediately save it in Evernote.
2) It allows you to scan more than one page into the same PDF

After saving the scanned doc to Evernote, I usually go to the PC version of Evernote, and then either “tag” the document, or at least add some keywords in the title or in the doc, above the PDF itself.  This makes the doc easier to find later.  I then drag it to the appropriate “notebook”, usually one called “ScannedDocs”.  (I think if I have ScannedDocs folder open, that’s where Doxie will save it; still need to confirm that.)

I’ve now switched most of my bills and statements to the paperless option. But the important papers that I now get by mail, usually get scanned and tagged. This is particularly useful when tax time rolls around. No longer, do I have to search for that mortage/interest statement that might be filed at home.

For small receipts, instead of scanning them, I use my Android phone to take a photo, then upload the photo to Evernote.  This also works good for business cards.  I have yet to try business cards or small receipts in the Doxie scanner.

Evernote is cloud-based, so my PC syncs with their ‘cloud-server’. So my documents are at least in two places. I can also access the same docs on my Android phone, and from any web-browser. Unfortunately, the bank where I’m working has Evernote blocked; I guess they think we will upload bank data to it. I’ll probably blog about an extra backup system in the near future.

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