Many of us are overwhelmed by paper clutter these days – and it’s not by our choosing. There are paper receipts, bills, agreements, policies and so on. The majority of companies we do business with, whether through purchases or services, bombard us with paper documents, as well as, advertising mail we don’t want.
Even worse, these companies often sell our names to other companies, who then start sending us more paper mail we don’t want. Here’s how to get all the physical paper in your life converted to digital, so that you can keep important records without all the clutter!
These days, there’s almost no reason you can’t keep almost all of your paper records as digital copies, except for those instances where it is an absolute must that you have the original hard copy for legal purposes or what have you.
You can solve your over-abundance of paper dilemma with 3 to 4 simple devices. You can even do it with one, although I will explain shortly why creating your digital record-keeping is better done with the 3 or 4 devices I’m about to mention.
For the best system for going paperless, you should have the following devices:
In addition to the devices, it is recommended that you have an online cloud storage service such as Google drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, iCloud, Evernote or other similar service.
Your computer will interface with your high-speed document scanner to scan your paper documents.
Why you need it: While you could scan all your documents using a scanning software app on your phone or tablet, you’re about to find out why you need a hardware document scanner – and those work best with a computer.
Your document scanner will give you the ability to scan full pages of various sizes and in bulk, down to envelope size or smaller and legal page length or longer. You can load a stack of documents into the scanner and it can scan one or both sides of the page simultaneously. It has the ability to scan in black and white, grayscale and color.
Why you need it: While you could scan all your documents using a scanning software app on your phone or tablet, using that device’s camera, a dedicated document scanner will save you a lot of time in its ability to handle a stack of paper in one go and scan both sides simultaneously. All of us have to deal with multi-page documents whether in our tax documents, contracts, policies, etc. For a comprehensive paperless system, a dedicated document scanner really is a must.
Scanning software apps, such as scanner Pro or iScanner for iPhone/iPad/iPod, use the built-in camera of your device for scanning. These apps have smart edge detection that help with cropping documents and can scan in black and white, grayscale or color.
Why you need it: Scanning software apps are excellent for scanning documents of odd shapes and sizes, those you won’t be able to scan with a document scanner. These are great for tiny register receipts you get from retail stores, to oversize documents, to documents that would get stuck in the scanner, whether due to size or being bent or wrinkled. Scanning apps allow you to convert your documents to a variety of image formats or PDF. From there, you can deliver them to yourself by email, or directly upload them to your cloud storage account.
Why you need it: The documents you scan with your document scanner need to be stored somewhere. Using an external hard drive or memory stick, allows you to have them stored on a device that is portable.
Your external storage will capture new documents that you scan, which you will then also upload backup copies to your cloud storage services. It’s also a good idea to use some type of backup synchronization software so that your local copies match your cloud storage copies.
Having copies of your stored documents in multiple places is a good idea. Storing your documents on cloud servers is important, as it allows you to access your documents anywhere. Having local storage available is also important, that way you can access your documents if you need to, without a need for an Internet connection.