Tag Archives: paper

The Value of Digitizing the Remaining Paper in Your Life

Paper and Digitization

Over the last few months, I’ve discussed the value of paper solutions in the modern day (for example, in regards to the Hipster PDA) and I’ve extolled the value of digital solutions such as Evernote. The truth is I’ve noticed the a balance in productivity exists somewhere between the two. There are still a lot situations in which I prefer paper and pen, but I try to eliminate paper as much as possible in my daily life. It just makes it easier to deal with paper documents when you can search through them digitally rather than by hand. OCR (optical character recognition) technology has come a really long way and now it’s easier than ever to convert documents into a digital format that can be easily indexed and searched. It might take time, effort, and resources to digitize the remaining paper in your life, but it’s worth it in the long-run.

Your Scanner and Evernote

The fact is that you’ve probably seen a lot of infomercials marketing scanner specially designed for the task of scanning every type of paper document you might have lying around, from receipts to tax forms. I’ve never used any of these devices, but I’m sure that they serve their purpose. There are also a lot of professional services offered by business out there that will scan your documents for you and then send them to you digitally. This is really meant more for business though and I wouldn’t recommend them. There is also the concern of your document privacy. If you had a lot of financial documents to digitize, you likely wouldn’t feel all to comfortable with having a third-party handling those documents. My preferred method is to just simply use your own scanner and a program/service, such as my preferred program, Evernote. Evernote is just one of those programs that I can never talk enough about because it offers solutions for everyone. You can scan your documents into the PDF and drag and drop it into Evernote. Evernote will sync the document for you and if you’re an Evernote premium user you can even encrypt your documents. The one caveat is that in order for Evernote to OCR your documents they do have to be synced to the Evernote service so you can’t simply keep them in an offline notebook. Nonetheless, I think this is the best and most inexpensive way to digitize the remaining paper in your life and it might be a worthwhile endeavor for your next weekend. 

Capture anything.

Paper, 43 Folders, and Systems

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve talked a lot about different productivity topics and things that Merlin Mann has created, from Inbox Zero to the Hipster PDA. One of the major themes has been simplicity and how simplicity leads to positive habits. For me, paper is often the simple solution and while I have a lot of different devices in my repetoire that all do a lot of different things, they often breed complexity. One of my most useful gadgets is my notepad which has four five features: an inbox, a next actions list, a projects list, a section for references, a section for possibilities, and a general notes section (the makings of a hipster PDA). It never runs out of battery life and is easily adaptable. The point is that even in an increasingly digital world, sometimes paper is still the best option and I wouldn’t tackle anything without a notepad. 

Personal productivity is contingent on a system. The truth is that without process and heuristics for what you do with a particular anything, you set yourself up for a lot of ambiguity and unhealthy productivity habits. A system that I’m going to try for the first time is the actual 43Folders system as seen on 43Folders.com by Merlin Mann. It comes down to a file box ($9.47), a set of 31 folders ($3.42 with extra folders), and a set of hanging folders with labels ($4.32). You label your hanging folders with the 12 months of the year and the folders 1-31. You  end up with a total of 43 folders. What you have is a perpetual system of task groupings by days and months that switch that move with everyday, in such a way that you know what tasks are critical for each day. It’s a transparent, simple system and I’m finally going to give it a shot so please, for those who are interested give it a try too. I’ll get back to a review in a few weeks. 

Click Here to Go to 43 Folders.


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