How to Get Rid of Paper Piles & Files
Tired of paper piles? Now is the perfect time to go digital and ditch your papers! Going digital provides you the ability to find documents in seconds without ever leaving your chair. It also provides you the ability at a moments notice to live or go anywhere and still have access to the documents on your computer or in the Cloud.
Below are three easy steps to reduce paper piles and files in your home or office:
- Setup file folders on your computer. Name folders so you or anyone else in your family can easily locate documents to run and maintain your household. Examples are Auto, Banking, Credit Cards, Employment, Insurance, Retirement, Travel, Utilities, etc. In any folder that will contain statements and bills, consider creating a subfolder within the main folder that is titled with the year. This will make archiving folders much easier.
- Stop papers from coming in your front door. Sign up for “paperless” billing or statements with your bank, mortgage company, credit card company, utility providers, etc. With paperless billing/statements, you normally will receive a notification by email that the document is ready to review online. Once you have gone “paperless” make sure you download bills and statements to your computer monthly or all at once at the end of year. This is important for tax and audit purposes, as one day you will find you no longer have access to the online version.
- Next, scan the hard copies of your existing documents into your computer. There are multiple ways to scan papers into digital format. You can scan a document with a mobile phone, using a multi-functional printer or you using a standalone scanner.
Ways to Scan
You’ll want to select your scanning device based on how often you will be scanning, the quantity of papers, and the desired quality of the scan. Below are scanning options starting with the best to the most basic option.
The easiest and ideal way to scan documents is with a stand-alone scanner. A stand-alone scanner is made just for scanning, not printing. It will provide the fastest, easiest, and best quality scan. While there are a number of options on the market, the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1600 is small and provides a no fuss experience along with a one-button touch to scan right to your computer. The ScanSnap can scan up to 50 two-sided documents at once and processes 40 double-sided pages per minute.
The next option is using a multi-functional printer with a scanning mechanism. A multi-functional printer is like a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. On most multi-functional printers you can scan multiple documents but the quantity is very limited and the speed of the scanning will be much slower than a stand-alone scanner. If you don’t scan often and have a minimal number of papers to scan at a single time, then a multi-functional printer may suffice.
Lastly, you can scan a document with your mobile phone. You can use a free app like Dropbox or Evernote to save the document toi the Cloud. A mobile phone is probably only best when no other device is available to scan. Scanning with a mobile phone is like using a weed whacker to mown your lawn – it’s not made for the task but you can get a small job done without much quality.
The cost of a scanning device correlates directly with the quality, speed, and ease of use. If you truly want the best of the best then a scanner like the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix1600 or ix1400 would be a good choice with a $300 to $450 price range. You can purchase other ScanSnap models for as low as $100 but they won’t be quite as robust.
If you don’t mind the scanning being a bit more cumbersome and the quality at lower level, using a multifunctional printer may be the option for you around $150 – 200. If you rarely scan documents and the quality of the scan is not important, your mobile phone may be the best choice combined with a free scanning app.
You can only expect to be paper-minimal not paper-free. In any home or office there will be documents that you must keep the originals of. Some examples are a birth certificate, marriage license, diploma, articles of incorporation, etc. You can elect to scan these vital and important documents into your computer, and then store the originals in a safe and fireproof place.
Wishing you all the best in going digital and everything you do!