Icarurs

Going Paperless with Doxie and Evernote

Recently I’ve been making a conscious effort to go paperless. What exactly does that mean? Basically, it just reduces down to three steps: digitize, organize, and declutter.

Think of the documents you have stashed away somewhere. They take up quite a bit of space, don’t they? I’ve had many instances where I became irritated with all the space the papers took up and ended up throwing them out, only to realize I needed a few of the documents for reference later down the line. That’s not a fun situation to be in!

If you have a lot of documents, what about finding the specific one you need? Unless you’re extremely organized, it could probably take you a long time to dig it up. That is a lot of time wasted!

So how do you solve these problems? Like I said before: digitize, organize, declutter.

Going paperless also gives you some peace of mind because PDFs in the cloud can’t burn up in a house fire, get lost due to a natural disaster, or be eaten up by your dog… Not to mention you’ll have access to these files anywhere you go if you have a smart phone or tablet. I highly recommend the paperless life!

Doxie Go

To digitize your documents, you gotta pick a scanner first. There are a ton of them out there, but I’m quite partial to the Doxie Go. It’s wireless and can work standalone, so you can take it with you and use it on the go. This is a godsend if you’re a college student like me and end up getting a ton of handouts throughout the school year (let’s not forget all the pages you get during the first week of classes just for syllabi).

Whenever I get new papers, I end up scanning them with the Doxie Go as soon as I get the chance. After scanning, I hold on to the papers until I can take them to a recycling bin. One word of caution, though: recycling or discarding sensitive information is not a good idea, so I’d put the sensitive documents in a paper shredder instead and recycle the remains.

A pile of papers conquered!

Doxie App

After scanning documents with my Doxie Go, I import the scans on my computer using the free Doxie software, then edit and “staple” related documents together to create multi-page PDFs. From the app I can choose to send the PDF to different places, like Evernote, Dropbox, a folder on your hard drive… But, for the organize step, I’d highly suggest using Evernote. Here’s why.

Evernote

Evernote on the iPad.

Not only do I use Evernote to keep my PDF documents organized, I also use it to save information I find all over the web that interest me for later reference or inspiration. Evernote allows you to create notes that can be placed in different notebooks (categories), so it’s very easy to keep things tidy.

One tip: create a lot of notebooks and sub notebooks. Don’t hesitate to have a lot, but try to keep them broad enough so that you have at least ten notes in each. It really helps to keep your notes in clearly defined categories rather than tagging them, since tags can get unwieldy pretty fast. I only ever seem to tag notes if there is a specific person or location tied to them. For example, the note “Trip Todo List” could have the tags “New York” and “Jen”. That will tell me quickly the list was for my trip to New York and that I made plans to see Jen there.

An example of how I use Evernote for university: I have a notebook called “School” and sub notebooks for each subject. I like to specify the term for the sub notebooks, so an example name could be “12AU Statistics” for my Statistics class I took in the fall in 2012. The notes in it have PDFs of chapter notes, homework, and exams attached to them (which I easily imported to Evernote through the Doxie app).

Another tip to keeping your notes organized is to change the creation date for each of them. If a PDF of a receipt is attached to a note, I’ll change its creation date to match the date on the receipt. This keeps your documents in chronological order and aids in searching.

Evernote is extremely useful the more you put in it. It has powerful search features, particularly with Evernote Premium; a premium subscription allows you to search the text in your attached PDFs! This is definitely a lot better than trying to muck through a stack of paper. If you throw everything into Evernote, it becomes a huge central hub for all the information you’ve saved up over time and it becomes a very valuable tool, particularly when used for research; I used Evernote to gather a ton of articles for a big paper on gentrification for school, and it helped me stay organized and easily gather all the information I needed to finish my assignment (I also ended up getting a great score!).

If you sign up for Evernote through this link, you’ll get a free month of Evernote Premium and also provide me with a free month. If you prefer not to register through my referral link, here’s a direct link to Evernote’s website to sign up. You’ll have to pay $4.99 for a month of premium, but I’d say it’s extremely worth it!

Good Luck

Here I outlined a few reasons why you should go paperless and gave and overview of some of the tools I use. I hope it made you interested in starting your own paperless journey! If you do, tell me how it goes by shooting me a message on Twitter to @icarurs.