Advertising
Advertising

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?

digitize_1

    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.

    digitize_2

      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.

      digitize_3

        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.

        Advertising

        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.

        digitize_serviceofchoice1
          • 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.

          Advertising

          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
                Lemon Wallet 2
                  Lemon Wallet 3

                    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.

                    Advertising

                    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.

                      Advertising

                      * 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.

                        irecycle
                          irecycle 2
                            irecycle 3

                              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.

                              More by this author

                              10 Meal Planning Apps You Need To Have To Get Healthier Easily The 50 Best Desktop Wallpapers for 2013 23 Awesome Travel Hacks That Add Fun To Your Trip How to Stay in Good Shape During Black Friday 9 Apps Unrelated to Black Friday That Are Helpful

                              Trending in Technology

                              1 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 2 7 Clever Goal Tracker Apps to Make the Most of Your Business in 2019 3 10 Smartest Productivity Software to Improve Your Work Performance 4 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2019 Updated) 5 16 Less Known Gmail Hacks That Will Super Boost Your Productivity

                              Read Next

                              Advertising
                              Advertising
                              Advertising

                              Last Updated on February 15, 2019

                              7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

                              7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

                              Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

                              Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

                              Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

                              So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

                              Joe’s Goals

                              Advertising

                                 

                                Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

                                Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

                                Daytum

                                  Daytum

                                  is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

                                  Advertising

                                  Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

                                  Excel or Numbers

                                    If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

                                    What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

                                    Evernote

                                    Advertising

                                      I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                                      Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                                      Access or Bento

                                        If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                                        Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

                                        Advertising

                                        You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                                        Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                                        All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                                        Conclusion

                                        I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                                        What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

                                        Read Next