This is the first post in my new series of weekly tips on going paperless. These tips are based on my own experience and what has worked best for me. If you are interested in finding out why I went paperless in the first place, you can read about it here. At this moment, I have about 20 weeks worth of tips posts. I hope to accumulate more before I run out. The first few weeks will be on basic topics and then I’ll move into other areas of interest. All of these tips can be found under the “Going Paperless” category on this blog. If you have any suggestions, let me know.
After more than a year of going paperless, I’ve found that there are three essential tools that I probably couldn’t have gotten along without. These are my tools of the trade and I’d recommend them for anyone considering going paperless. First, I needed a place to store the “paperless” (or digital) documents. Second, I needed a way of scanning in existing paper to digital form. And finally, I quickly discovered I needed a way of removing staples from all those old paper documents.
1. Evernote – my digital filing cabinet
Evernote1 is software that allows you to capture notes in a variety of forms. These notes are stored locally on your computer, but can also be accessed in the Cloud. Evernote has applications that work on most mobile devices as well, including iPads, iPhones and Android. With Evernote, you can organize your notes in notebooks and tag them. You can capture images, audio and video notes, and attach documents like PDFs to your notes. With Evernote’s premium service, your scanned PDF documents can take advantage of Evernote’s “PDF Search” capability which makes your scanned PDF’s searchable, a very useful feature, I’ve found.
I chose Evernote because it met all of my high level requirements for paperless storage:
- It works on a Mac.
- It can store your data in the Cloud so it is accessible to you anywhere.
- It works on iPhones and iPads
- It is highly flexible when it comes to organizing your documents
- It has a robust interface for capturing notes
- It makes it very easy to search your documents
- It provides enough security2 to satisfy my own security requirements
I use Evernote’s premium service which costs $45/year and gives you a number of additional features, like the PDF searching. It also gives you and additional monthly upload quota of 1 GB/month. Evernote does not have any limit to how much data you store, only a limit to how much you can upload in a given month. That said, you can use Evernote for free with a smaller monthly upload quota.
There are other products out there that perform similar functions and I looked at several of them. But for my needs, Evernote came out on top.
- I should say up front that I am Evernote’s Paperless Ambassador. I was so impressed with Evernote when I first started using it that I wrote several blog posts about it. Eventually, I was asked to become part of their ambassador program, which I was happy to do because I think it is a great product. I am not an employee of Evernote. ↩
- I get a lot of questions about security concerns with storing data in Evernote. Rest assured, I will cover some “security tips” in a future topic. ↩