We all have carried more paper than what we actually need to carry. We all had hold paper in our lives for longer that we need. Even the best people at processing paper, keep some stuff that honestly could be put in other formats, so you don’t need anymore to carry it.
When I discover that most people had enough with a copy or even an email version of most documents, I decided to find a different way of carrying all that information. I need it a way to file those documents, and carrying in them with me, without carrying a piece of paper. That will provide me easy access, but no bulk or weight. The Answer: Evernote.
We where traveling recently to a close city and my wife lost one of her contacts. We drove to a LensCrafters to get a new pair. In order to help her they need to see their prescription. She got hers on a different store, and I knew they will be able to call, and get the information. Instead of that, I just search on my Evernote, and voila, show to the person helping us, he ask for an email to attach to the file and 15 minutes later we where back into out trip. All that because I have get in the habit of scan papers that come our way that I think I may need (even some that I hope I will never need)
Evernote had the advantage of the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) that make find documents really easy, even if your abilities of filing are poor. The camera of the iPad and the iPhone are good enough to get a quality image that Evernote can apply their OCR so it can be perfectly useful.
The problem like anything is that if you just dump stuff instead of being something useful you have the risk to convert it in something that it is going to be useless again. So in my opinion you need some kind of methodology in order to survive.
This the the current formula that I have. It is far from perfect, but it works great for me and saves me hours and more importantly it is simple enough I think.
My Current Folders:
Tax Receipts (Current Year): My accountant don’t require originals, so I take pictures of receipt that will be relevant and just forward by email when the Tax time arrives.
Wife: This is things that are related to my wife. Eyes Prescriptions, insurance cards, and many more stuff.
Daughter: same as the wife, b-day invitations, doctor and medicine instructions while current and stuff that it is related to her.
Personal: same as my wife and my daughter, stuff that will be relevant.
Business: stuff that it is reference to my business.
Guarantees and Service Agreements
Current Projects: I have a folder per current relevant project
Old reference file: Since Evernote doesn’t limit me (for now) I don’t delete anything from there, I am sure eventually I will, but until now, there had been no need.
As you can see there is a not so clear distinction of how to do with short term storage and long term.
As of today my long term strategy is simple (or more like a Swiss cheese) until Evernote doesn’t ask my to delete items everything will be there. It’s not perfect, but it is one of those things that until keep working I will not be thinking on improving it.
Regarding the short term strategy, that it is a little bit more complex. Tax receipts, Daughter, Wife, my personal files, business, guarantees and current projects, are in their file, after they become obsolete, I just simply move to the “Old Reference File”. Usually at the beginning of the new year, you will see two folders for Taxes, because as you may imagine I begin accumulating tax stuff around the first of the year, when I may or may not finish with last year returns.
The system is simple, if I ever need the originals, I can go into my file system and look for it. It is something so unusual, that the evernote file cabinet do almost everything I need and more.
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