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How to Digitize All Your Paper

How to Digitize All Your Paper

Paper is a product that is easy to accumulate. From bills to letters, I can find my desk filled with random paper products all the time. This isn’t due to laziness or hoarding, however; everything has a purpose. This creates a dire issue in terms of what to do with the papers—in addition to the unattractive-ness of a desk full of paper, it can even be a bit unsafe. Compromising and sensitive information can get lost in the pile and end up in unintended places, so let’s discuss how technology can change the way you handle your stacks of paper.

Step 1: What Do You Need?

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    First off, you need to round up your tools for digitizing the large load. A good shredder is important—many individuals feel that if the document is simply thrown away and mixed with the trash, they are safe, but that isn’t the case. Thieves and criminals can and will go into your trash to steal documents containing compromising information.

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      You’ll  also want to look into investing in a good set of manila files. Even though our main mission is to cut the amount of paper in your life, not everyone understands this mission, and you may need to keep an original copy of the most important of documents.

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        Additionally, a scanner is a must in this case. This is the way in which we will digitize the documents. They don’t have to be expensive either: there are many affordable scanners on the market today, and most come along with a printer. While these are the physical things you will need, the magic is found in the software that you use.

        Step 2: Service of Choice

        If there is anything that you get from this article, I hope that you understand the importance of Evernote in your paper-purging pursuits. If you aren’t familiar with Evernote, the note-taking application has multiple functions that allow individuals to use it for anything from group notebooks to to-do list powerhouses.

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        However, the ability to easily add photos and documents makes this app extra appealing. Below are a couple of Evernote basics for making new notes, notebooks, adding photos/documents, and sharing your notes.

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          • Creating a New Note

          File > New Note or

          Command + N.

          To create a note in a specific notebook, click on “Notebooks” on the left hand sidebar, select the notebook you want to add a note to, then perform the steps/commands mentioned above.

          • Creating a New Notebook

          File > New Notebook or

          Shift + Command + N.

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          digitize_serviceofchoice3
            • Adding Files

            Click on the note you’d like to add a file to

            File > Attach Files…

            digitize_serviceofchoice4
              • Sharing Notes

              Right Click on Note > Share

              While this is a cross-platform solution for desktop (Windows and Mac), there are also many solutions for mobile users to cut out paper. For all mobile users, there is an Evernote version for your smartphone from Blackberry to Android, and of course iOS.

              Lemon Wallet 1
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                    Individuals who are looking for lasting solutions may want to check out Lemon Wallet. The application can be described by some as a digital wallet, by others as a receipt keeper. Both descriptions are equally accurate.

                    When you launch Lemon Wallet, you are presented with all of the cards that you have added. The app will assist you in adding all of your cards and receipts when you launch for the first time.

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                    When you click on any card, Lemon Wallet prompts you to enter your password. Once entered, you can view your wallet, protect it when it is lost or stolen with BillGuard, and even add it to Passbook. Scrolling to the very bottom of Lemon Wallet’s homepage reveals where you can find receipts. You can sort and view them by date or category.

                    Step 3: Getting Started

                    digitize paper

                      The stacks of paper are now in front of you, waiting for you to dive in. However, before we get started there are a couple of things you need to do. First off, when sorting, you are going to want to keep in mind three categories.

                      • Crucial Paper (bills, documents, mail requiring an action)
                      • Stuff I’d Like to Keep (keepsakes, children’s drawings, photos)
                      • Junk and Clutter (old mail, notes to self*, etc)

                      These categories will prevent you from holding onto things that just aren’t important. Additionally, keeping in mind that you will have to scan every single piece of paper that you retain can be motivation enough to not hold on to the unnecessary notes.

                      Once the papers are sorted, it’s now time to shred the junk and clutter paper. Once that’s out of the way, you can get started with scanning and sorting. This should be seamless and easy to do, but if have trouble, refer back to the “Service of Choice” section for the required steps.

                      So, why did we differentiate stuff you’d like to keep from crucial papers? It’s all about the paper’s end result: all of the papers we scanned today will be shredded and thrown out, but since keepsakes and child drawings are usually sentimental, you don’t want them to end up in the trash.

                      For this reason, before trashing the crucial papers that you wouldn’t need an original copy for, you should find a nice, dry, and safe spot for the keepsakes. A well designed shoe box will do the trick.

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                      * Notes to self can be transferred to note taking applications like Evernote, or even applications like Stickies for short notes.

                      Step 4: What To Do With The Paper?

                      digitize_1800recycle

                        The papers are now shredded, but they aren’t out of your life just yet. What good are you doing for anyone besides yourself if you simply shred and throw out your old documents in the trashcan? You will make a larger difference by recycling the paper instead. Websites like 1800Recycling can help you discover recycling spots near you.

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                              Mobile applications like iRecycle do the same as well. The easiest route may be to recycle through your city by throwing out your shreds in your city’s designated recycling cans you may have at home, but if your city doesn’t have a recycling initiative, then the steps mentioned above will be your best bet.

                              Clearing out your junk is a major step in spring cleaning. Let us know in the comments below what problem spots you will tackle this year, and don’t forget to share this article with your unorganized family members, friends, and coworkers.

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                              Last Updated on November 3, 2020

                              20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

                              20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

                              Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

                              There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

                              This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day.

                              What Makes For the Best Productivity Apps?

                              Beyond productivity tips, there are dozens of productivity apps to choose from too. With that in mind, here are some of the core aspects of ideal productivity apps that have formed this list.

                              • Non-intrusive – you want a productivity app to weave seamlessly into your workflow and not cause disruptions. From using the app to the overall display, it shouldn’t cause any interruptions.
                              • Good interface – Again, you want to be able to use these apps easily and have them benefit you. The easier you can navigate around these apps, the better.
                              • Fair pricing – Many of these have free trials that allow you a good chance to test before you buy. If you do decide to pay for it, the monthly pricing plans should be reasonable for what you are getting.

                              1. Todoist

                                Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

                                Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

                                If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

                                Download: Todoist

                                2. 1Password

                                  You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

                                  1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

                                  You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

                                  Download: 1Password

                                  3. Bear

                                    Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

                                    It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

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                                    Download: Bear

                                    4. Hazel

                                      Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

                                      For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

                                      Download: noodlesoft

                                      5. Alfred

                                        Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

                                        For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

                                        It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

                                        Download: Alfred

                                        6. TextExpander

                                          TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

                                          For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

                                          An individual account is $3.33 per month.

                                          Download: TextExpander

                                          7. Backblaze

                                            If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                                            Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                                            Download: Backblaze

                                            8. Keyboard Maestro

                                              Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                                              Download: Keyboard Maestro

                                              9. Snagit

                                                There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                                                Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                                                10. Bartender

                                                  Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                                                  If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                                                  Download: Bartender

                                                  11. Otter

                                                  Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                                                  Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                                                  Download: Otter

                                                  12. Flux

                                                    Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                                                    Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

                                                    Download: Flux

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                                                    13. PDFpen

                                                    If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                                                    PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                                                    Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                                                    14. OmniFocus

                                                      OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                                                      It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                                                      A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                                                      Download: OmniFocus

                                                      15. Franz

                                                        It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                                                        Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                                                        Download: Franz

                                                        16. MindNode

                                                          If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                                                          The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                                                          Download: MindNode

                                                          17. Focus

                                                            The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

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                                                            This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                                            Download: Focus

                                                            18. CleanMyMac

                                                              Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                                              Download: CleanMyMac

                                                              19. Grammarly

                                                                A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                                                This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                                                A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                                                Download: Grammarly

                                                                Focus To Do

                                                                  Focus to-do is one of the top productivity apps for your iPhone around. It even has a desktop client that you can connect to effortlessly. The app is built around two things: the Pomodoro technique and task management. It achieves these things with amazing balance. All that you have to do is create a task and then set the timer right within the app itself.

                                                                  There is also great flexibility with the Pomodoro technique as well. You can choose whether to take a 5 minute break, take a longer one, or even skip it. On the task management side, you can also create reoccurring tasks, reminders, and place a priority on tasks too.

                                                                  Download: Focus To Do

                                                                  The Bottom Line

                                                                  These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                                                  Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                                                  More to Boost Productivity

                                                                  Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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