After 57 years on the planet, I decided to finally take the plunge and go paperless. Okay. Mostly paperless.

Lorraine and I receive thousands of pages of documents each year. Financial statements, invoices, receipts and other documents that often fall into the important to keep category.

Over the past few years, a number of our providers switched over to electronic statements. And trying to keep a decent filing system on both electronic and paper media was proving to be quite challenging and frustrating.

I decided to make a change and get better organized.

I use three tools: the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i scanner, Evernote and my iMac. The Fujitsu scanner, which is amazing by the way, handles the incoming paper. It is configured to send the scanned image in PDF form directly to Evernote. Within Evernote, I have a local notebook called “File Cabinet”. Everything I scan goes into the File Cabinet. I give the document a title and a date and, almost instantly, I have a well organized virtual filing cabinet. Other electronic documents that are already digitized get added to Evernote. And, because of Evernote Premium, I have OCR against all of the documents which allows me to issue very sophisticated searches by keywords.

I processed most of the papers by creating three stacks.

Stack one: papers I do not need to keep. Not surprisingly, we were holding on to a lot of papers that we really did not need to keep. I estimate that well over 70 percent of the paper documents we receive can be shredded and recycled.

Stack two: scan and toss. These are the papers that we want to store in digital form only. We do not need a physical copy. This seems to be about 20% of the papers.

Stack three: scan and keep. These are important papers that we scan and hold. Things like signed contracts. And this represents a very small percentage of the total. Let’s say about 5%

I am about two thirds of the way through all of our current papers. The process has been fast and quite liberating. The electronic copies are easy to store and easy to find. Much easier than flipping through a huge, two-drawer filing cabinet. And we have a lot less physical paper occupying our lives.

That said, we have banker boxes full of paper files dating back well over three decades. My plan is to tackle one box a month. In a couple of years, we will have completed the move to a (mostly) paperless home.

This post on going paperless was very helpful to me. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to get this system working.

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