AN ARCHIVAL PROJECT BECOMES A PAPERLESS LIFESTYLE
A few months ago, I reorganized my office. One of the things I needed to deal with was a large plastic bin filled with important paper documents. I was planning to buy a filing cabinet for them, but I was sick of looking at it so I carried it outside, planning to buy it the next day. That night, it rained.
The next morning, I tried to bring the bin back into the office, but it was so heavy I could hardly lift it. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the lid was cracked, and the bin had filled with a couple of inches of rainwater. The papers were soaked!
For the next couple of weeks, I dried out the waterlogged papers by spreading them on my office floor. I managed to save the papers, and at the end of the unpleasant experience, I vowed never to let it happen again.
The solution, I decided, was to forgo the filing cabinet and buy a sheet-fed scanner instead. I heard that sheet-fed scanners were much more convenient and speedier than flatbed scanners. When I bought mine (a ScanSnap S1500M), I learned just how convenient and speedy they were. It can take stacks of 50 sheets and burn through them in a little over a minute, scanning both sides. I saved the digital files as PDFs at Evernote.com, which runs optical character recognition on the files for easy searching. It worked like a charm.
I started going through all my filing cabinets. I scanned insurance papers, lease agreements, credit card statements, past tax returns, and more. Next, I started scanning store receipts, letters from my kids’ schools, and anything that arrived in the mail that I thought I might need to refer to later on. I was surprised to discover that the scanner was not only a good way to keep my documents safe from loss or damages, but that it was a fantastic clutter reducer.
In the ensuing weeks, I started finding even more uses for it. Whenever I purchased a gadget that came with a user’s manual, I’d remove the staples and run it through the scanner. Newspaper and magazine articles, recipes, postcards, and handwritten notes were all fodder for the omnivorous machine. I started scanning in all the sketches and art projects my kids worked on. (I saved the original paper versions of my favorites and threw the rest away without guilt.)
Thanks to the scanner, the paper clutter in my house and office is a thing of the past. I’ve owned a lot of gadgets in my life, and my sheet-fed scanner is right up there with my cell phone and computer as essential technology that makes my life better.