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JamesCE

paperless Where am I going wrong? It's just too "combersome"

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Hello everyone. I've been using Evernote for about 3-4 weeks now. My goal is to become paperless and officially start in 2012. But I guess I continue to revert back to my old ways and want to use My Documents. What I would like is a way to utilize Outlook and my Documents folder in Windows. Here's my situation...

At work I save files in folders based upon projects (this is where I could use tags). I do not sync this information online since it could be sensitive but the program alone does provide better organization. I can also send work emails based upon a subject to its appropriate folder... ooops, notebook.

But how do you all work with the limitation of subnotebooks.

When I'm at home I use my documents folders frequently so I would like to have some organization there too. But when I place files (even xls, pdf, etc) it doesn't appear to stand on its own but attached to a note. This I am having a hard time to grasp... If I have a file on "actual costs" why do I need to have it within a note instead of residing in a folder? at a minimum I believe the note should default to the name of the file. Is this possible?

How many tags are too many tags? I can easily see things getting out of hand for me. Is there a way to show tags based on notebook. I saw in a tread it was possible but I couldn't replicate.

Also I'm used to a file tree and only have one level to drill down in notebooks doesn't see as the best organizational solution. Although I will work with it.

I believe I'm committed to evernote since I've been reviewing this forum and other products. Right now I just want to get really organized.

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hi. i think you will find tags to be quite useful. when you are getting started, think of your tags as folders and subfolders. so, you might stick "#projectx" and "#claim" in the subject line of an email you forward to yourself. this would give it those two tags, and you could look in the main folder (now the tag "projectx") by typing "tag:projectx" in evernote's search field. this will pull up all of the notes related to projectx, and the view will look exactly the same as it would if all the notes were in a folder. if you want to see the sub-folder ("claim"), then you could add that to the search "tag:projectx tag:claim" to create the exact same view you would see if you actually had a sub-folder.

the cool thing, and really important organizational aid, is that the notes never move, and if you want to look for every "claim" from every project you could just type that instead of (in the traditional system) hunting through every folder and sub-folder to pull the information together. the ability to sort and resort in various ways makes folders irrelevant, or at least less important. personally, i only use them for offline files (necessary for the iPad) and not for organization.

hope that helps!

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(snip) ... If I have a file on "actual costs" why do I need to have it within a note instead of residing in a folder?

Think of a note as a container that wraps the file in meta-data. Folders don't inherently have a lot of meta-data associated with them, but notes can. In addition to actual notes that go along with the file (for instance, when I scan a medical bill into a note, I usually add some text noting the date on which I paid the bill and the method I used to pay it) you get things like tags, URL, location the note was made, note author, etc. The meta-data describes information about the attached file and makes it more useful in searches. (For instance: find any notes created within a mile of my present location.)

The difference between tags and folders is that folders are generally a one-to-one relationship. Tags are one-to-many. If I put a document in a "budgets" folder, that's the only place I can find it unless I create additional shortcuts or make additional copies of the file and put it in other folders. If, however, I tag a document as "budget" and "2011" and "household" then searching under any of those tags will bring up the same note containing the document. No need for shortcuts or multiple copies. Tags can let you view different slices of aggregated note.

I prefer fewer tags. Evernote's search capability is good enough (for me) to generally just type in a search for what I am looking for and find the results quickly. Where I do use tags is when I want to look at a specific collection of things at once: e.g. "Homeowner Association" documents.

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Hi – I’m a fair way down the road to paperlessness (new word?) and am gradually getting used to difference between tiered folders and a flat structure with tags. I’ve made most of the available mistakes on the way, and the best advice I can give (IMO) is: get started.

If you overthink the planning stage you’ll still be trying to work out the “best way” at the end of 2012. As we all expect the Universe to End around then* you’ll never put the project to bed.

So. Scan everything you receive as soon as you get it, and add it to Evernote so the creation date of your note is valid. Use one notebook until you can’t avoid creating another.

Tag sparingly, because evernote’s search is a lot better than you think – but you do need to learn how to use it. Search here for tips!

Scanning older stuff deserves a separate notebook because otherwise the timeline just gets muddied by the one letter you received today plus the 50 receipts you added from last year. Anything adding large volumes of text – cuttings, reports, reference documents – also needs a separate notebook (IMO) so that you can search your current documents without thousands of noisy and irrelevant extra hits.

When saving non-PDF files, you won’t see the content, and it won’t be indexed to search; so print the relevant files to PDF and store that format as well (if you intend to change the content) or instead (if it’s a letter you sent already). With some files you can just cut and paste a summary, or the first page, or add some keywords to the note so you can find that item more easily.

Build on the fact that once you save items to Evernote you will be able to find them again.. although initially it might take a bit of effort!

Since your whole life is now here, however – don’t just rely on those nice folks at home base to keep it safe. Make a backup/ backups of your database and keep them somewhere suitably secure.

You will be revisiting your data – I’m constantly “gardening” my tags and notes with each search. If I don’t find what I need easily in one search, I edit the notes so the right stuff is easily found, and the wrong stuff easily eliminated. Plus I save the searches that work.

When you get stuck, your friendly neighbourhood Forum will always help out. And you can at least meet the 'pocalypse with empty shelves.**

* kidding, right?

** still kidding.

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Thanks all, Jamie I was reading your 3 steps on going paperless too. I do get a better understanding of organizing the data now but I guess it will just take some time to "let go". I cannot get over the ability to access this information everywhere and is one of my main reasons for needing this.

Now I do have another question which will probably help with my clarity. Lets take my home filing cabinet. I have bills, receipts, insurance docs etc. Would you create a notebook for the "cabinet" or "home cabinet" and they tag each item? Or would you suggest one by each company? I think the answer is likely "cabinet" or "Mail". Am I getting this right?

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your right I'm just going to suck it up and start.

My planning will probably just be piss poor at best.

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(snip) ... Would you create a notebook for the "cabinet" or "home cabinet" and they tag each item?

I think this varies by person. I have a notebook called "Paperless Filing Cabinet" where most stuff goes. I have other notebooks for writing-related stuff that I keep separate.

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Now I do have another question which will probably help with my clarity. Lets take my home filing cabinet. I have bills, receipts, insurance docs etc. Would you create a notebook for the "cabinet" or "home cabinet" and they tag each item? Or would you suggest one by each company? I think the answer is likely "cabinet" or "Mail". Am I getting this right?

I agree that you need to work with it to determine what works best for you. In my case, I have a notebook "insurance policies". All of them go in there. I use titles & tags to differentiate between car 1, car 2, homeowner's, etc. However, all these notes could be easily put into a "big old notebook" with the addition of a tag of "insurance policies" applied to all of the insurance policy notes. Same with auto info. All notes pertaining to the cars (other than insurance) go in there. Copies of vehicle registration, tire & battery purchases/warranties, maintenance info, go in there & again use titles & tags to differentiate between each vehicle.

I have hundreds of documents in my EN & I'm diligent about using an accurate title. I always include the date of the bill/letter in YYYYMMDD format as well as the company or the name of the sender/recipient (if it's something I sent). So if I need to find the Cox cable bill from May of 2007, I'd simply do this search:

intitle:cox 200705*

and boom...out of thousands of notes, the one note I'm looking for pops up, no matter what notebook it was in. And no tags involved.

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Lots of good advice here, as well as in other threads on the topic. I wrote a blog post related to this topic (http://christophermayo.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/the-art-of-being-organized-without-organizing-in-evernote/). If I were going to sum up all of the advice I wish I had received early on in my paperless days (evernote or not) I would have said:

1. consistent naming

2. store in one place

3. a few keywords

4. a few broad categories of tags

You can do the gardening later, but if you plant the seed (so to speak) with this basic information, you'll be able to find anything with the search function.

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Just picked up my scanner and can't wait to get oanrganized!

Question though.... say i have old bills/files... is there a way to break them up into separate documents easily? or do i always end up with one document for it.

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Just picked up my scanner and can't wait to get oanrganized!

Question though.... say i have old bills/files... is there a way to break them up into separate documents easily? or do i always end up with one document for it.

I scan my documents one at a time so I end up with a PDF that only contains that one document. After scanning and adding to Evernote, I tag and edit the title. Then move on to the next document.

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Just picked up my scanner and can't wait to get oanrganized!

Question though.... say i have old bills/files... is there a way to break them up into separate documents easily? or do i always end up with one document for it.

I scan my documents one at a time so I end up with a PDF that only contains that one document. After scanning and adding to Evernote, I tag and edit the title. Then move on to the next document.

Thanks you sir.... I can't believe I'm THIS excited about organizing... smh lol

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Question though.... say i have old bills/files... is there a way to break them up into separate documents easily? or do i always end up with one document for it.

In addition to jbenson2's suggestion, here are some other approaches:

  1. Set your scanner to create a new doc for each page (if that is the case).
  2. Use a PDF editing program (like Acrobat) to extract selected pages to a new file after the scan is complete.
  3. Perhaps if the source documents are more than a year old, you could scan into one document by year (like put all Electric bills for a year into one doc).

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