Ask Your Going Paperless Questions for this Week’s Going Paperless Post

ETA (8/15/2013 11 am EDT): I’ve answered all of the questions in this post over here. I’ve closed the comments now. The discussion can continue on this thread.

For a little change of pace this week, I will answer your Going Paperless questions. Here is how this will work:

  1. Ask your questions in the comments to this post. You can ask as many questions you like, but please keep them to the topic of paperless lifestyle and the tools and software related to going paperless. Be sure to review the Going Paperless FAQ. I may have covered your questions already.
  2. I will collect questions on this post until 11:59 pm on Wednesday, August 14. That gives you about 48 hours from the time this post goes up.
  3. I will consolidate like questions, and then write a new post in which I answer as many of the questions that I can manage.
  4. I will post a new Going Paperless post on Thursday, August 15, with the questions I selected and my answers.

This is your chance to ask questions, so ask away, but be sure to do so in the comments to this post, since this will be the only place I look for questions to answer. If you know folks interesting in asking questions, spread the word.

Answers will be posted on Thursday. For now, ask away…


  1. Jamie, what are your paperless recommendations for organizing business cards? Of all things that clutter up my office pretty fast, business cards are the number one offender, and with the pile getting bigger, I haven’t been motivated to sit down and enter all pertinent details by hand. Is there an efficient way to scan them?

    1. is it okay for others to answer? If so, Evernote Hello is what works for me. I use it all the time. It scans the card and puts it in my contacts notebook and the info is synced over to my phone contacts. I love it.

  2. I also have a question about business cards. Do you carry and give out business cards? I have been trying to quit carrying them and have been looking for the best way to give an electronic business card to people. I have found a couple of apps that do this, but I’m concerned that the apps are storing the email addresses of the people who receive my business card. Thanks.

  3. Jamie – I’ve seen you post about scanning and saving documents, etc. into Evernote, but do you keep electronic files outside of Evernote (like a NAS drive, etc.) that you reference? If so, what do you find the most effective method for “sorting” or “storing” these electronic files. GTD would tell you to file paper documents in pure alphabetical order for simplicity, but not sure that same system works for electronic files. Thoughts?

  4. Hi Jamie! My question is related to James’ question above…digital file management outside of Evernote. Do you retain the digital files of scanned PDFs (or other file types) that you have in Evernote even once they are in Evernote? How do you organize them? I dump everything into Evernote, but because the originating files come from multiple sources (several different email accounts, work email, scans at home, scans at office, photos from iPhone or iPad, etc), the files themselves are scattered all over, a digital mess! Wondering what your file system looks like outside of Evernote…

    I really enjoy your blog posts, both paperless-related and otherwise, thanks!!

  5. Jamie-What is your approach to the endless stream of receipts offered for everything from a cup of coffee to a $100 dinner out? Sometimes I find myself politely refusing by saying to the cashier, “would you dispose of that for me please?” And other times I find myself taking it if I used my credit card, but then they crowd up my wallet over the course of a week.
    There are endless apps to capture receipts and get them into Evernote, but that also feels like a lot of effort for small benefit. Do you capture every single receipt? Are you selective based on dollar amt or payment method? Or maybe you think about it entirely different.
    I’m sure there is no single approach for everyone, but I’d be interested in how you deal with this.

  6. How would you organize notes for an academic research paper? My current taxonomy has a stack called “Research” with individual notebooks for each class I take at school. The problem in my mind is that each of these notebooks feels too cluttered—notes from class sessions feel like they should be separated from notes for research papers and projects.

    But how would you recommend doing this? I don’t want to create multiple notebooks for each class. Should I simply use tags (like “class notes” or “research”) and create a saved search for each, perhaps making a shortcut for it?

    Thanks! Love the Going Paperless posts! (which go directly to Evernote, via IFTTT) 😉

  7. Hi Jamie, can you give examples of using IFTTT and Evernote together (other than the meeting notes example which I’ve already read). I tried auto forwarding of email such as iTunes but the formatting gets lost and the note ends up being hard to read.

  8. Hi Jamie, My question is about working with microsoft-documents. I can’t find a good workflow when I receive a word-document from a co-worker and want to make some changes and than send it back. Do you use dropbox for that? But than you have two places where you’re documents are archieved. Do you have an advice? Thanks and greetings from Amsterdam. Niek

  9. Thanks for your great blog! Can you explain more about your workflow for using Evernote to go paperless in reading, especially related to annotating & highlighting? I find myself opening up a link in a new tab, clicking Clearly, using the save later settings you suggested in another post & then when I have time read it later in Evernote to highlight/annotate. It seems like a lot of clicks to accomplish this organization. There doesn’t seem to be an IFTTT recipe that saves the full article from feedly to evernote. Related to all this, do you use GoodReads to organize your reading that is not digitized? Or do you use Evernote & if yes, then how is it organized/kept current? Thanks!!

  10. Hello, Thank you for doing this. My question is… What is the best way to serach and organize 7 years of documents for my company? Say I have 7 years worth of one phone bill. Should I have all 7 years in that one notebook and just search for the one i want? Or, should i have multiple notebooks for each year for that bill to keep it better organized? I am currently scanning all of my companies documents and it is a bit intimidating to see hundreds of scans in a single notebook. If I created a notebook for each bill we would just have too many notebooks.

    1. Surely it’s very unlikely you’ll need to ever refer to a 7 year old bill again (and probably hardly ever even recent ones once you’ve checked them, so its really for ‘just in case’ storage) so what’s the problem about putting them in one notebook? It’s easy to search. What I did was to have a ‘bills & statements’ notebook, tag the notes with the relevant company name, and crucially for historical ones edit the creation date so they can be ordered by date of document not date of scan. With so many bills available as PDFs directly, e PDF web clipper comes in really handy for collecting new ones.

  11. Enjoy your blog. My question has to do with the local notebooks (mostly financial). I have several on my desktop computer, but lately I have been spending a lot of time away from home and I need to refer to something in one of those notebooks. Is there anyway to get them to my laptop without syncing the folder.

  12. What kind of documents can not be scanned and should be kept as an original?

  13. I’m pretty good at scanning documents, but then I get stuck on which ones I should still keep filed as hardcopies: Legal documents and tax returns are explaes of hardcopies I have kept, but I’m wondering if you have some guidelines.

    I’d also like to know how you handle photos — I’m overwhelmed by trying to organize them.

  14. Jamie, great header. What are some of the fastests ways you enter notes? Email with hashtags and notebook designations? iOS app suggestions? Good desktop program? I feel the need, the need for faster note entry.

  15. I am currently working on a paperless system but face a number of challenges to which Evernote would appear to offer solutions. My concern is after 30 years of using tech I have seen many formats and media types come and go. My question is therefore what precautions do you take against a world without Evernote? I’m thinking both in terms of backup of data and retaining that data in a format that remains accessible.

  16. I also am concerned with keeping a hard copy or a second cloud copy in the event that Evernote crashes and can’t be recovered. Does this worry you?

  17. Hi Jamie, I love reading about your paperless lifestyle and am implementing a lot of your techniques myself. You’ve touched on the topic of email before, but I was hoping you could elaborate a little on what you think is best kept in the email inbox and what would benefit from being stored in Evernote. I know this isn’t exatly a paperless question, but I really struggle with the small size of my email inbox and the lack of a logical and consistent way to handle email in Evernote…

  18. How to use tags? I use prefixes : @Dirk for persons, :today and :next for GTD-actions. I have more than 600 different tags as I tagged my articles in the past with multiple tags, using them as keywords. Now it is overwhelming. Tips for using tags?

  19. I have a question regarding note taking and recurring meetings – daily, weekly, or monthly. Do you create a separate note for each meeting or do you just have one note for each meeting and put the latest entry at the top of the note?

  20. Hey Jamie, love your Paperless posts.

    My question is regarding work. I work for a small book company who sells on Amazon and eBay, and we send out packages. Every morning, we print hundreds of pieces of paper; a pull list for people to physically pull from the shelves, plus a packing slip for every individual order. I know my boss won’t invest in an iPad or other tablet for all the employees so we can pull while looking online, but is there a way you can suggest we eliminate as much morning paperwork as possible?

  21. Hi Jamie. My question is about audio notes. I use Evernote audio extensively for my official meetings, visit to physician and other important occasions and tag them appropriately. But when I want to retrieve them later, I don’t have any keywords except the tags, as the notes contain only audios and no written matter. I find using too many tags overwhelming. This sometimes make it difficult to search. What do you suggest to have a more effective retrieval management system?

  22. Topic: school. My son’s middle school will start a new optional program where kids can “bring their device to school”. My hope is he can write his in-class assignments on a device and get him to the teacher without printing. I originally was showing him evernote, now I’m thinking google drive might be better with the editing, commenting capability. Thoughts? I don’t want to buy lined paper and copy paper for the school anymore!! Thanks.

  23. My question is how to reduce the size of a photo before submitting to Evernote. When I had my iPhone 3, I could submit a ton of photos but with the upgraded camera (and upgraded size of photo) I hit my Evernote upload limit quickly. I know I’ll upgrade to premium in coming years, but not quite ready, as I need to become more a proficient user first.

  24. My husband is minister. We would like to use this to record sermons, save them to our website for others to listen to, download or for us to email to folks desiring a topics. We have used it a few times but the volume is extremely low when we play it back. We feel we have volume turned up all the way. Have tried iPad 2 & iPhone & had same results. Tips, suggestions needed. Also how do we make certain the iPad or phone will not ring or alert during services. We have turned Do not Disturb on…if that what it best assurance.

  25. Hi Jamie. I really love your paperless blog. I am a retired fulltime RVer and want to get everything into my pc or devices. I have used the paper notebooks and calendars for over 35 years. I have the Penultimate software in my iPad but have trouble writing on it. I have set the wrist settings but still get lines and dots all over my page. I have the bamboo stylus you suggested but I can’t get the notes to come out without skips in all the words. Can you give me some ideas on how to write better on the notes. Thank you for all your tips and tricks.

  26. Hi Jamie, I have a question about archiving. I’ve been using Evernote since the beginning and now have several years of notes including many from past companies (meeting minutes, project plans, etc). I tagged them all with “Archive” and can do searches with a -tag:Archive to remove them from search but I am wondering if there is a better way to hold onto my archive but not have it as part of my regular Evernote Account?

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