Going Paperless…Or at Least Less Paper

It’s so appropriate that on the day I start a tech series, my iPad misbehaves. Actually, it misbehaved so badly that the Apple “genius” replaced the entire unit.  So now I’m on my third iPad in just under 12 months, and I’ll spend the next day downloading settings and getting it to work with me again.  Grrr. You’ll hear more about on what I love and don’t love about my iPad later.

But it is so lovely when technology really does simplify your life.  I’m on the hunt for tools that really save you time or aggravation so I can share them with you this month.  I think I’ve found a solution to one of my worst clutter monsters…business cards. My great system for filing business cards worked, but it always seemed so passive, separated from my MS Outlook that I depend on so much, and it started growing out of the box this year. Is there a way to eliminate those cards once and for all?  Is there a slick way to email trusted vendor contact information directly to clients when they need great painters, electricians, and other great resources that I work with, information that is stuck in my business card box in my office?

I am infatuated with my new NeatDesk. This isn’t some organizer slang, but an actual brand name. You might know that I am not always the tech specialist in the room, but ever since I saw the NEAT scanning capabilities about two years ago, I realized the power.

The solution looks like a scanner, but the magic and power is really in the accompanying software.  Setup took me about 25 minutes. Not bad considering most of that was trying to figure out how to temporarily disable security software on my desktop. I also took another 20 minutes to watch some very informative videos. You’ve gotta love when a software company provides great instruction to make the power of their tools completely obvious.

What started out as a search for simplicity in my card file blossomed to many, many possibilities.  This photo shows the types of paper that I hope to eliminate from my office:

organize paper and scan business cards

  • Business cards
  • Business receipts for my smaller second business (www.PregnantEntrepreneur.com)
  • Banking receipts (Most of these I toss, but I have this small account that I keep receipts for reasons that won’t interest you.)
  • Informational articles- Trust me, even a professional organizer keeps some ideas that look wonderful in a magazine but have no immediate application in real life.
  • Backlog of professional articles
  • That little pile of -what the heck is in that pile???- that is always to the left of my phone. Just kidding, it’s mostly recently acquired business cards that have not yet gotten filed, but it’s always there.
Can the average person and small business really go paperless?  I looked into several other options before choosing to bring this machine in-house.  There are card scanners by companies like Dymo that are too uni-tasker for me.  There are regular flatbed scanners (I already own a decent one integrated with my relatively new-ish printer), but they don’t have the software needed to really make sense of scanning large batches and mission critical information.  There are programs like PaperTiger, but that forces a whole new indexing system that never felt right to me and requires a class to learn how to properly use it.  There scanning services “in the cloud,” like ShoeBoxed, which get pricey at $20 or $30 per month but are good options for high volume users with lean staff.  Yes, you can even take pictures on your iPhone and store them away, but you only have an image, and not a high-fidelity, searchable, IRS-acceptable document storage system.
Are you intrigued by the idea of getting your paper out of your office and into memory?  I’m going to play with this new toy for a few days, and I’ll be letting you know about the capabilities, and also what the downsides are.  Like any technology, it’s not for everyone, but I know that it is for some of you, especially those with businesses or a deep-seated need to go paperless.  I’ll keep you posted. I’m wondering what other paper problems NeatDesk might be able to solve, so throw your comments and questions my way and let me see whether it is up to the task.
It looks like tech month just took on a whole new meaning, as it appears I’ll be upgrading my 6 year old computer as well.  Wish me luck.
In full disclosure, the Neat product was supplied to me for evaluation purposes, but I am not being compensated for this review.

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4 Responses to Going Paperless…Or at Least Less Paper

  1. Sometimes I just have to laugh….
    ok, it’s a sheepish grin,
    but how many of your clients read “That little pile of -what the heck is in that pile???- that is always to the left of my phone”
    and say….
    oh…that would be my desk!

    • Yes, professional organizers are people too. I was at a block part yyesterday when a neighbor, who literally lives six doors down, asked if my house was spotless??? She looked at my kids while I gazed at her baby and I admitted that, yes, we had left the house with toys still on the playroom floor. The issue isn’t who has the neatest space. Remember, organizing is about being able to find what you need and live the most peaceful life possible. As Michael J Fox says, I strive for excellence. Perfection is God’s business.

      But I’ll let you know if I can whittle down that pile, or eliminate it!

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