Hello SOTGC community,
There are many advantages to converting some of your paper information into digital form. Not only do you save the physical space that your paper takes up, but your information becomes portable (you can take it with you on a thumb drive or sync it using cloud services). It becomes searchable, and it becomes shareable for easier collaboration.
It may not be worth your time to convert everything that you have into digital form, but as you obtain new paper items, it makes sense to establish a new routine for scanning, editing, tagging, and storing information. That can include client intake forms, receipts, and business cards.
The first step is to choose a scanner. Nearly any scanner works fine these days for documents and photos, and many multi-function printers have scanning built in. But for paper items that tend to clutter up your bags and desktop such as Post-its, receipts, and business cards, I recommend a smaller desktop scanner, such as the Fujitsu ScanSnap, the Neat Scanner, or the DYMO CardScan for business cards.
You can also use an app on your smartphone or tablet. Mobile apps don’t tend to be as accurate as dedicated scanners, but they are convenient and can scan full-size documents. Have a space on your desk that provides good lighting with no shadows for this use. Examples of mobile apps are WorldCard or Camscanner for business cards, and Evernote for anything.
If you have more money than time, you can use a service such as Shoeboxed. Send in your documents, and, for a fee, you’ll get digital versions that you can download from their servers.
The second step is to establish a regular routine. If you’re a professional that works with clients, then have a routine to scan client documents and photos as you work with them. Scan receipts after every business trip or shopping trip. Scan business cards after every networking event.
The third step is to tag and organize your scanned files. “Tagging” means to assign keywords to help you find your file later using Macintosh Spotlight, Microsoft Search, or the search function built into your software. Your scanner software probably has a feature to assign keywords or categories to your recently scanned item. To organize your files, you can use your scanner software’s organization methods, or you may want to export the item as a .pdf, .csv, or vcard file and save it in a client folder, notebook, or workbook. Your scanner software may also allow you to edit or annotate the file before saving.
Wouldn’t it be nice to clean up your desktop from the paper clutter and be able to search by title or keyword and share your data? Invest in a scanner and establish a routine, and you will be astounded by how efficiently you can work!
Here are some links to scanners. Get out your credit card and do it today!