On Finally Cleaning Out the Filing Cabinet

Way back when I decided to go paperless, I made the decision not to go and scan everything in the filing cabinet. The reason was primarily because I never had to look for anything in the filing cabinet. It would have been a waste of time to scan in paper that I would never use. So instead I focused on new paper coming into my life. That was more than two years ago.

We have a number of projects going on around the house. We are almost done transforming our old office into a living room. We ordered some nice furniture for the room, which will be delivered on Tuesday, and in prepping the room for the furniture, we decided to move the filing cabinet out of the room. The opportunity presented itself, at last, to see if there was anything worth scanning. Turns out there, was, although I probably scanned more than I needed to. The filing cabinet is a double-wide, two-drawer cabinet, and it was full yesterday morning. It is empty now. Here is the stack of paper that I pulled and decided to scan:

Paper Stack

Before I got started, I was curious to see how much paper I’d scanned since getting my Fujitsu Scansnap s1300i (well over a year ago). Turns out, the scanner tracks this. Before I got started with my scanning yesterday, here’s what the numbers looked like:

Pages Scanned Start

In something like 1-1/2 years, I’d scanned about 1,700 pages, which tells you how little paper I actually get. It took me yesterday and this morning to scan in that stack of paper, but it is done now, and here is the result:

Pages Scanned Finished

That’s over 1,300 pages scanned, all through my trust Fujitsu s1330i, and all without a single problem. No snags, nothing caught in the scanner, nothing misscanned as far as I can tell.

Of course, this is only part of the job. I now have to go through these scans in Evernote and tag them, date them, title them, etc., but I can do that while watching TV with the family over the course of several evenings.

Bottom line is that is was much easier to scan in the paper from my filing cabinet than I thought it would be. It made me love my Fujitsu scanner that much more.

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  1. That’s awesome Jamie! You’ve inspired me to go through the two plastic file boxes in my office closet and do the same. 🙂

    I do have one question…. I know you’re an EN Ambassador and you need to “represent” :), but I’m curious why you bothered scanning all that stuff in to EN? If you haven’t needed to reference any of it for over 2 years, why not just scan it all into a folder structure on your computer, back it up to the cloud, and be done with it? Why clutter your EN database up with stuff you may never need?

    1. Dave, honestly, the answer is mostly inertia, with a sprinkling of completist. I like knowing that I only have to search one place if I ever need that stuff. It makes it easier for my wife, too, to search only one place.

      And it really doesn’t clutter things as much as you might think. 99% of the scans went into my Filing Cabinet notebook, which is probably where 80% of my notes reside. In searching for stuff in that notebook, it’s easy to add a search criteria that only looks for notes after a certain date range. Most of the notes that I scanned are from documents that are older than two years. So by adding a search criteria to my searches for any document added in the last two years, I don’t get any of those recent scans in my search results. On the flip side, if I do need to search those notes, I can narrow the search to notes dated before 2 years ago just as easily. Of course, this only works if you take the time to modify the create date of the notes to match the date on the document, but I’ve found this to be worthwhile. It makes searching by date, or narrowing searches, much, much easier.

      1. That makes sense. I do like the idea of having only one place to search. So, I assume as you scanned stuff in, you must have modified the created date for each note. Correct?

        1. Yes, that’s part of my process when I scan. Although to be honest, I’ve got a little bit of a backlog from the weekend because I scanned so much. When that happens, I usually end up clearing the backlog while watching TV with the family.

          1. LOL! Same here! Everything goes into @Inbox, and I re-date/tag/sort from there. 🙂

            Keep up the awesome work Jamie — as a fellow paperless fanatic, I LOVE your blog!


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