Getting All My Docs in a Row

As I explained in Strategizing Digitizing, my New Year’s Resolution is to go paperless. After conducting my New Year’s Re-Inventory yesterday and realizing that I’m over on My 200 Things Challenge I decided to get to work.

I was a little horrified when I took inventory today and realized I had The Only Existing Copy of various electronic files stored in the following places:

  • my laptop computer,
  • my personal drive at school,
  • two different USB keys,
  • my back up hard drive,
  • Google docs,
  • Dropbox, and
  • a small collection of CD-Rs.

I used to have documents on floppy disks and a zip drive, too, but I tossed those years ago when I couldn’t find a computer which still accepted them. It was definitely time to consolidate! It doesn’t make sense for a minimalist to have this many Little Pieces of Important Paper.

I haven’t yet added the documents from my personal drive at school, but I started with the documents that were handy. I dumped everything from my USB keys, back-up hard drive, and CDs onto my laptop. This involved borrowing an external CD drive since my MacBook Air doesn’t have a CD drive. (Note to self: when your computer has evolved beyond a storage technology, it’s time to catch up with it!)

I’d used various organizing schemes over the years so it took a little while to get everything sorted into a new filing system, but eventually I got there. I was surprised by how much I could archive. I do still feel compelled to keep much of it, but it’s not relevant to my daily life, so I don’t need it available there at a glance in the left-hand sidebar. It’s now nicely organized within my Archive folder and I can still get to it quickly if necessary. The folders I do seem to use on a regular basis are these:

  • Archives
  • Journal
  • Little Life
  • Recipes
  • Tiny Houses
  • a folder for each of my classes (which I add to the archive at the end of the term)

I’m still Strategizing Digitizing. Scanners are notoriously unreliable. Working with them has often given me more headaches than it’s worth. A friend of mine has a scanner he loves and he offered to loan it to me. So I took it home and messed around with scanner drivers for a while, but I never could get it to work for me. I looked into buying the brand and model he swears by, but I’m not in a place to spend upwards of $300 on a scanner right now. I considered buying a used scanner off Craigslist, but I couldn’t find one that would scan both sides of the page and I don’t have the patience to feed pages through. I think it would take me a week to scan all my documents and if it’s that cumbersome I’ll quickly abandon the habit. Anyone out there have a digitizing strategy they’d recommend?

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5 Responses to Getting All My Docs in a Row

  1. Pingback: Strategizing Digitizing | | This Is The Little LifeThis Is The Little Life

  2. Pingback: The Minimalist’s New Clothes | | This Is The Little LifeThis Is The Little Life

  3. Diane says:

    Are there companies that specialize in this type of work? Maybe hiring one to do the initial big scan?

    • Storm says:

      There is- Shoeboxed.com. For a subscription (or free, if your monthly scanning is 5 docs or less), you can mail in the papers you wish for them to scan. If you also have Evernote, they can even sync all the material they have scanned with your Evernote account, for even easier reference. Once I can squeeze a little more room out of my fixed income (as I typically have WAY more than 5 docs a month!), I’d like to give Shoeboxed a go, myself. I already have Evernote, and it’s a relief to know that if anything happens to my hard drive, all my LPoIP are still going to be safe in my account.

      Looking up this information to reply has given me a new thought regarding my own paperwork- I may have a lot of scanning that needs doing, but I could get started now, with their free plan. While I might not be able to send in everything at once, I could nonetheless get a bit of much-needed help! :)

      • Little Life says:

        Hi Storm,

        Thanks for sharing this info. I hadn’t heard of Shoeboxed.com yet. Unfortunately, I’m not particularly good about getting things mailed either, so I’m not sure that would actually be better! :-)

        I do have access to a high-speed scanner at the university right now, so I think that’s the route I’ll probably go. It seems it would be best to do it in tiny batches, but I haven’t gotten into the habit yet so I have quite a stack of paperwork to scan. I should just make it part of my weekly schedule I think! And I should probably be pretty harsh in my decision about what to keep and what to let go. Chances are if I haven’t needed it recently I won’t need it at all! (Of course, I’ll keep the things I know are important like taxes and my mortgage information!)

        I’m glad to hear Evernote is working well for you. I’m a huge fan of Dropbox, so I think I’ll stick with that. Let me know what you decide to go with! Its nice to know there’s someone else out there scanning a bit at a time!

        Lina

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