How I Use Evernote for My Paperless System

I am on a mission folks! A mission to get as much clutter and chaos out of my life as humanly possible. A key cause of clutter and chaos for me is paper. Bills. Statements. Receipts. Files. Notes. They all start to add up and pile up. So a few months ago we decided to tame our paper tigers and get as of our paperwork on the computer and in the Cloud as possible.

We use a combination of Fujitsu’s ScanSnap S1500 scanner and Evernote as the most excellent one-two punch. The ScanSnap is easy to set-up and has a really small footprint. You can set up different scanning profiles which will allow you to scan single sided, double-side, in color, in black and white, straight to PDF, straight to Evernote, and more.

I can’t tell you how liberating it is getting rid of all this paper. My wife has gone through about 20 full and large 3-ring binders and dozens of files. I’ve gotten rid of all the receipt folders for the years 2009 through 2012 for both personal and business receipts. I’ve scanned all my old and current client files. My metal file cabinet is almost empty.

And what’s even more fantastical, Evernote’s text-recognition software allows you to easily search for items, even if they are printed in PDF or a PNG file. So, if you need to find a receipt for a hard drive from Costco from last year, no more digging through dozens of old receipts. Just do search for Seagate in Evenote and BAM! Within seconds it comes up.

How We Do It

So here’s our process. In addition to a scanner, you’ll need the premium version of Evernote. It’s only about $45/year and worth every penny.

  • Statements – I have all my statements switched to electronic delivery only. Just about every major creditor and vendor will give you this  option, including utilities.
  • Email – whenever I get an emailed statement or receipt, I forward it to my Evernote account and target the appropriate folder. That’s another nifty feature of Evernote. You get a personalized email assigned to your account. Send and email to it and that email becomes a note. You can send an email to a specific folder by adding the “@” in front of the folder name somewhere in the subject.

When a receipt is emailed to me, I forward it to Evernote.

Once something is in Evernote, OCR technology allows you to search for it with key words, even if it’s a PDF for PNG file.

  • Scanning – I have my office assistant scan all the receipts and statements we still get by mail. We’ll keep paper receipts for two quarters before having them destroyed (just in case). Here’s a pdf of our scanning process, including what we do with the documents afterwards.
  • Clients – as much as possible I keep client correspondence electronic. I use Signnow.com for contracts. I save important client correspondence in Evernote by forwarding email to the appropriate folder. I use Asana for my workflow and customer relationship management. I use Dropbox for sharing documents and files. I use YouSendIt.com for larger files (e.g. videos to review, motion graphics, large files from the client, etc.)

Don’t Be Scared

I know what some of you are thinking: “Do I really want all that private and financial info up on the cloud?” The answer is, It’s already there people. In some form or fashion, your private info is already floating around the interwebs. Might as well keep it in an encrypted and highly trusted system like Evernote’s. Don’t be afraid. Remember, “Vivir con miedo es como vivir en medias.”

Are you paperless? How do you do it?

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4 Responses to “How I Use Evernote for My Paperless System”

  1. Interesting idea to use Evernote.

    Right now, I use DropBox for scanned receipts, and Gmail for anything emailed; just tag and archive. Instead of forwarding an e-mail, I just do a Save As… to the appropriate folder on whichever computer I’m on and it’s there.

    I think I get most of the same benefits that way, since both Evernote and DropBox are on most of my devices.

    • Thanks for the comment David. One key thing about Evernote is that there is UNLIMITED space. The only limit you have is the amount of data you can upload in any given month. For the premium account it’s 1GB. Way more than enough for just receipts, documents, etc. Then once it’s up there, it’s up there for life. Then there’s the OCR technology I mentioned. How easily can you find receipts or PDFs saved to Dropbox?

      BTW, I also tag and archive in Gmail, but I found it’s nice have receipts specifically in a set place in Evernote too.

  2. Great idea. I’ve been using the free version and will upgrade to the paid version because of your idea.

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