School has started up, and with the Little Man now in kindergarten, the volume of paper we received has increased, out of all proportion, to what I’d grown used to. His school is very good about making a lot of stuff available online. But there is a good more stuff that comes to us in paper, which means that I am back to scanning every day, in order to keep the backlog down to a reasonable level.
But, confession time: the backlog is well beyond a reasonable level.
Being known as the paperless guy means that any time I am seen within the proximity of a piece of paper, I am looked on with suspicion, and even comic derision: “Oh look,” my coworkers say, “it’s the paperless guy, coming back from the printer. Hey, what’s that you’ve got in your hand, paperless guy?” There’s no way to hide the paper so I hang my head in mock shame.
In truth, I am far from perfect when it comes to being paperless, and I thought I’d share a few of the ways that I struggle in order to demonstrate that, like anything else, this is a habit and it has its ebbs and flows. Or put another way: don’t stress about the paper you do use.
Confession #1: My paperless Inbox is overflowing.
Earlier in the week, I wrote a post on how I manage to stay at Inbox Zero with my email. The same is not true when it comes to my Evernote Inbox notebook.
I use my Inbox notebook much the same way you’d use an inbox on your desk. Everything not automatically filed goes into the inbox by default. This includes stuff that I scan, emails that I send to Evernote, notes I jot down on the fly. These notes may not add up to much on any given day, but over time, if the inbox is ignored, they build up quickly. Case in point: as of this morning, there are more than 1,000 unfiled notes in my inbox:
Several times a week, I look guiltily at my inbox and think, I really need to do something about that. I do this much the same way I might look at the junk in the attic. But the junk stays in the attic, and the inbox stays unchanged.
Of course, the difference between my attic and my inbox is that, despite the volume of notes in the inbox, they are still easy to search using Evernote. Imagine if it was as easy to search your attic?
Confession #2: I sometime forget what I’ve scanned and overscan.
Although I have a process in place for scanning paper each day, I must confess that I don’t always follow it. Life intervenes, time is short, the kids need me for something, and I get distracted. While I usually get the paper scanned it, I don’t always shred the paper immediately afterward. Sometimes it sits on my desk for days, and later, when I tackle the pile, I can’t remember what I’ve scanned and what I haven’t.
This is laziness on my part. It would be easy to do a quick search in Evernote to find out if I’ve already scanned the thing sitting the pile… but I don’t. For the purpose of speeding things along, I assume that I haven’t scanned it, and scan everything in again. This leads to extra stuff in the inbox, but it also leads to embarrassing searches, where I find, on occasion, that I’ve scanned the same document three times.
When I find these extra scans, I’ll delete them, but it’s not like I’m out there hunting for them on a regular basis. I have enough trouble just keeping my inbox below 1,000 notes.
Confession #3: Although I share stuff in Evernote with the family, I tend to be the one to go find things when they are needed
I’ve made sure that my wife has full access to all of our notebooks in Evernote. She has a premium account, and I’ve showed her how to access the notebooks. I’ve created saved searches for her for common things, and showed her how to use them. The idea, of course, is to make the data available to her whenever she needs it.
The reality, as it turns out, is that the need is never so critical that she can’t wait for me to find the document or note for her. Typically, the conversation goes something like this:
“Hey, did you scan the t-ball schedule?”
“Of course,” I say, “it’s available in Evernote.”
“Can you print it out for me?”
At which point, a little part of me shudders.
“Um, can I email to you?”
So I go into Evernote, find the note in question, and use Evernote’s share functions to send the note to Kelly via email.
Ten minutes later, this happens:
“Is my laptop set up to print?”
“Yeah, you just have to pick the HP printer from the list.”
A few moments later, I hear the printer spit something out.
“What was it you needed to print?” I ask.
“The t-ball schedule you emailed me,” Kelly says. After that, I can’t really say what happens. Usually, everything goes gray and I wake some time later on the office floor.
Well, those are my confessions. Most of them, anyway. I’ll save the really embarrassing ones for when I am desperate for a topic to write.
If you have a suggestion for a future Going Paperless post, let me know. Send it to me at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin.com. As always, this post and all of my Going Paperless posts is also available on Pinterest.
Last week’s post: 6 Steps for Life Continuity Planning in Evernote.