Have you ever looked around your office and marvelled at all the paper! I did a while ago and wondered just what to do about it.
Here’s how to get the ball rolling in four easy steps:
#1 Dealing with existing stacks of paper
My first problem was dealing with all the existing paper. So, step one was tossing everything that was more than five years old. The only docs I kept were marriage & birth certificate’s etc as well as any other important personal files
With the rest, I organised them into folders based on year of issue so that I could dispose of them as they became defunct. For example, the ATO requires receipts and other documents to be kept for five years. I had mine going back about 15 years!
#2 Reducing the inbound paper
The good news is many organisations will communicate with you electronically rather than mailing paper. Banks are the obvious candidates here but many government agencies will use email to let you know when a document is sent to you via MyGov. Many utilities have online billing systems and will provide electronic bills as well. If reducing the paper is important for you look for these options, in many cases they are also cheaper as some charge you for a paper bill.
#3 Dealing with inbound paper
This is the step that requires the most adjustment of your present routine, I used to place everything in an inbox and sort once a month or when it became full. What a chore that was!
I already had a multifunction printer/scanner/copier in my home office, so I run paper bills and receipts through that then save the Evernote. I am looking though at a smaller more portable unit like the Fujitsu ScanSnap, this is much faster and is small enough to keep on my desk so it’s handy to use, and can do a single-pass duplex scan. It can also send scans directly to my preferred storage system, Evernote, where I can search for a document as everything is indexed with OCR.
I’ve started paying for an Evernote Premium account each year so I get extra storage capacity and access to their OCR feature. Within Evernote, I’ve created just a few notebooks, which are my filing categories, so saved documents can be filed quickly.
Although it was tempting, initially, to get a little carried away creating lots of categories and using a lot of tagging, I’m finding Evernote’s search is good enough for finding documents. For example, when I needed to find a receipt for a defective FitBit, I could just search for the tags and find the receipt quickly.
As Evernote is multi-platform, I am able to show the receipt on my smartphone at the store to effect an exchange.
#4 The need for routines!
Just like a paper-based system, it’s important to keep on top of the paper as it comes in. However, I’ve found scanning and categorising documents is far faster than putting the paper into folders.
I try set some time aside each week, as part of my regular admin time, to scan receipts and other documents. Otherwise, I’ll just end up with a pile of paper on my desk.
How do you deal with paper? any great ideas to share?