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JWW

paperless Paperless home - experience after 6 months+

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I'm thinking about going paperless at home. It sounds like the perfect solution, but I'm really curious about other people's experience after doing it for some time.

Does it really give you the advantages of filing/retrieving all your documents? Or does it mean that you're just spending extra effort in scanning/filing your documents?

Are you still consequently scanning everything?

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In Jamie's nomenclature, I am a completist. I scan (almost) everything. Only recently, have I stopped scanning coffee receipts and other small purchases. It's not because I think it will be useful (99% of it is not), but because then I am sure that I absolutely cannot have missed anything. If I need something I know it is somewhere in my computer. It all gets OCR'd and stored on my computer. I am basically a digital hoarder. Of course, important stuff I can then put into Evernote. 

 

I move around a lot within the US and overseas, so having everything with me has been a huge help. Not only that, but the physical act of moving is now so much easier without having to worry about books or papers. The entire project took several years to complete, and a lot of time, but it was worth it. I actually read a lot more these days because everything is at my fingertips 24/7. A few hundred pages scanned at a time while watching TV, or as a break from research, and eventually you will be paperless.

 

My recommendation would be to get a tablet device of some sort to read things. In fact, you'll probably want more than one so that you can view multiple materials at once. Yes, it costs a bit of money, but it is worth it. If you are a WIndows person, you really can't go wrong with the Surface 3 + iPad combination. 

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Thanks, really useful!

Are there only success stories? I'm also curious about reasons why people didn't manage to go paperless. Or is this perhaps the wrong forum to look for those people? :)

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google says: http://www.profitguide.com/manage-grow/technology/why-most-paperless-offices-fail-53984

there are surely plenty of people who decide paperless isn't for them. you have to do what works best for you. in my case, i want to have everything available to me at all times, so i have a strong desire to make it work, and i am willing to sacrifice the time and effort. for other people, the calculation might be different, and paperless might be a waste of their time.

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@JWW i dont think its a matter of taking a "wrong turn" ... I dabbled with Evernote in July 2008 & as @GrumpyMonkey says, it requires a concerted effort (for me by 2013) to focus and cross the "digital divide"

for those of us who were born before the net as we know it (I'm dating myself now..lol), paper was the only way to organize.

going digital was a matter of letting go of all your paper or putting in the time to do the conversion and get to a place where you are not in two worlds at once. this took me 9 months between the lines. a "complete" conversion is not for everyone. some people will be ok with "just starting now"

now in regards to which road to follow...here was one recent discovery:

a fellow Evernote member invited me to take the StrengthsFinder test - it was amazing to watch Evernote effortlessly help me aggregate all related personality work over the past 20 years into a single index & more importantly, bring everything in context & deduce a few trends! PM if you'd like to see the note.

this experience made me realize my Evernote implementation is going to be quite valuable for a long time to come!!

I haven't even gotten into what upgrading to Evernote Business in the past month has been able to achieve :)

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Are there only success stories? I'm also curious about reasons why people didn't manage to go paperless.

Jamie Rubin put a post up on his blog in early September where he talks about his struggles going Paperless. For me, it helped to know I'm not alone in a few struggles. It's a great read! http://www.jamierubin.net/2014/09/09/going-paperless-confessions-of-a-paperless-writer/

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You know how doctors tell you that exercise and diet are keys to staying healthy.  And how do you do that (or not so much in my case all the time), discipline, go figure.  Paperless is much the same IMO.  Discipline in addition to a plan of how paperless you want to be, how much of that historical paper do you want to digitize and chuck out, and knowing you will fall off the wagon from time to time.  I have found that for me short doses of scanning are better than saving up for the week, makes it feel like less a chore.  

 

I am paperless now, fully go forward and as much go backward as I thought I needed to be.  One definite helper is e-delivery or paperless statements of any sort that you can get.  A two monitor set up helps so that you can balance accounts or whatever with application on one screen and document on the other.  FWIW.

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I am paperless now, fully go forward and as much go backward as I thought I needed to be.

One point Jamie Rubin made when going paperless really struck a chord with me and I feel it's a very important part of the process -- don't process every single bit of paper. Not at first. When starting to go paperless, process what is current and go back a bit (say, six months or a year). Anything older than that, keep where it is. If you end up not needing it in a defined time-frame, you know you can chuck it (especially for non-financial stuff). It's much less intimidating to go paperless going forward, and not think about 10, 15, 20 years of paper backlog to scan. 

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Agreed, it is key to define a universe that has boundaries.  It's a fine line point, forgive me for the semantics, but I thought in terms of documents as opposed to paper.  For me this includes statements, receipts, taxes, and medical records for sure, and to some extent emails, web clips, and selected pictures (tagged).  For the first group I take the download option whenever possible.  Also important is note naming.

 

My go backward strategy was simpler, mostly financial and medical stuff, with the more confidential items placed in local notebooks.  It took a couple of months to scan it in, an hour here and there.  And now that I am "current" I may err to the side of adding something. but I hope I have maintained my discipline.

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I have been basically 100% paperless for at least 2 years now both at home and for my work.

 

I have switched back and forth between using Evernote and Dropbox (and a mix of both) over the past two years. I am currently using Evernote exclusively. (having everything digital makes it really easy to switch what applications you choose to use as well!).

 

I have most of my utility bills and regular payment receipts automatically delivered to Evernote via my Evernote email address and any items that are delivered to my normal email address I simply forward to Evernote. Any paper documents that arrive in the mail or receipts/documents I receive throughout the day I simply store them all in a plastic folder and scan them all in every couple of days. I then shred the originals.

 

There are heaps of benefits to doing this. The obvious being the ability to access any document at any time and having it all with you wherever you go. But there also a ton of rather obscure benefits that you come accross. eg:

 

  • Being able to tag bills as "Unpaid" or Paid" and being able to display anything outstanding to pay with a simple search (no matter what notebook you've got it saved in). You can obviously also set reminders for due dates. You can effectively create a pretty good finance management system just by having it all available in evernote. 
  • If you keep all of your household documents together with your partner, in the unfortunate event that you split up it is really easy to share any information with them for them to take for their reference.
  • It's really easy to combine pieces of seemingly unrelated information in order to easily put together applications or similar. eg. Passport, loan or rental applications which can ask for some pretty obscure documentation. 

 

From reading the other responses it seems that the hardest part of the process is getting all of the 'old' content into the system, stuff that may have piled up for years. Do it! It's worth it once it's done and that tedious part of the process is only temporary, maintaing the system once the bulk of things are in there is easier than you think! It is also amazing how useful this old content can be when you least expect it.

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I have been a small business owner and was 'scanning' everything from receipts to invoices. For me the crucial part was organizing various paperwork and finding what I was looking for at the right time. 

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