So, the latest edition of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter (if you don’t subscribe already, you should!) had a small article about going paperless.
I remember, way back in the 80s, (yes children, I got my first computer in 1982!) that we all believed computers would eliminate the need for paper. Instead, by 1990, I was buying paper by the case.
And today, the end of January still means one thing to me: shuffling through 365 days worth of paper (at least three pieces per day, minimum) to determine what is deductible and what is not…what yearly statements I have and which I must go out and get somehow…creating and sorting spreadsheets from the 1,000 pieces of paper….ugh.
But Dick Eastman had this little blurb, linking to this LifeHacker article, about going paperless. For real.
I have experimented with Evernote, with PDF Creator, with ShoeBox, and about half a dozen other iPhone and iPad apps, but other than being able to save quick copies of a family Bible, I have not found any of them convenient or elegant.
The LifeHacker article suggests a little hand held, battery powered gizmo for taking pictures of receipts, making them PDFs, posting them to your Evernote account, and organizing the receipts there.
I don’t need another battery-powered gizmo in my life. I have enough of those. I also have a HP Photosmart All in One that can scan to searchable PDF for me. I also have a filing system that has worked for me, lo, these 30 years.
It being the end of January, I decided my New Year’s Resolution was to work toward paperless-ness. So I set out, not to reinvent the wheel, but to modify my particular wheel to carry me into the paperless-ness I desire.
First I created a new drive on my 1TB hard drive. It is labeled “Paperless”. On my Paperless drive, I now have directories (that’s what we used to call “folders” on our computers, kiddies. Quaint, no?) that match exactly my historical paper filing system: Automobile, Boat, Charitable Contributions, Credit Cards, House, Insurance, Medical, Misc, Office Supplies, Utilities, and so on.
Now to my new way of filing: instead of printing out all the email receipts from Amazon, Ebay, and all the other online shopping, I created PDFs of them. Instead of taking all the paper receipts from the secretary in the living room and filing each in its category in the Bills Box, I started scanning them. Each scan went into the appropriate folder on the Paperless drive.
It will take me another day to finish January’s receipts (nothing is ever easy. The printer decided in early January to turn into an electronic brat. I had to re-install it twice before I could start scanning.) After that, scanning is going to become the habit. However, it will probably be Easter before I have the nerve to recycle all these paper receipts!
Once I get the hang of it for receipts and bills, I’m going to start scanning and sorting all my genealogy paper. The photocopies, the pictures, the citation screen shots, all are going to be scanned and sorted and filed on their own little drive. The pictures I took of my husband’s grandmother’s Bible, the copies of NASA Spinoff, and so on.
It will take a while for this to feel as natural and routine as putting the paper in the folders in the box in the secretary. But I’m determined to do it!