The Art of Digital De-Clutter: Storing Documents Digitally

The following post is from Andre of Pulse + Signal:

paper clutter
source: Lindsey T

As we get deeper and deeper into using the Internet for many of our activities, the amount of material being written around productivity and organization continues to grow exponentially, and the lines between our online lives and our offline activities are blurring.

One way the digital world is lending a hand is by keeping track of necessary documents. Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about the “cloud” for information storage and services that make it really easy to transfer from paper to electronic form. Here we’ll be looking at some fantastic applications and ways to take advantage of some digital solutions for de-cluttering from paper overload!

The Journey from Paper to Digital

Let’s start with the paper clutter. No one really enjoys looking around their desk (and possibly the floor) to see papers scattered everywhere, not knowing where they belong. Not only do you feel better when less paper clutter is around but you have more space freed up, which does wonders for an office (home offices included!).

Many printers are now made with a scanner/fax option which comes in handy for taking the first step into crossing into the digital organization world. Here are some great tools to take the next step and make those files searchable on your computer:

  • The NeatDesk: One of the most efficient tools I’ve come across in getting myself organized. The NeatDesk is your personal scanner that is specifically designed for not only documents but for receipts of any kind as well as business cards. The good people at NeatCo graciously allowed me to review their flagship product and I must say I wasn’t disappointed. After scanning your documents, you’re able to tag it with search terms for easy searching in a customizable database. Business card information is automatically recognized and populated into respective categories.
  • NeatReceipts: For the busy, traveling professional or small business owner wanting to keep track of receipts beyond fishing through a purse or wallet – this device makes scanning receipts extremely easy. It also does the same thing the NeatDesk does as far as organizing into a searchable database.

Journey from Digital to the Clouds

Getting your documents from paper onto your computer can be a huge victory in the battle for organizing your office space. If you want to take the document storage adventure to the next level, there are options to store your documents in the cloud — that is, off of your hard drive and onto a web based application. Let’s check some of those out:

  • Evernote: One of the premier web based applications to help you remember everything. Evernote doesn’t fail to deliver on this promise either. With options to clip website content, create audio notes and most importantly, storing documents — being able to put them all into notebooks of your design. One of the other great things about Evernote is that it syncs together across a slew of devices including your smartphone (using their app). After your document has been scanned & onto your computer, you can upload it to the Evernote server along with other bits of noteworthy elements. Truly a digital extension of your brain.
  • Google Docs: Another way Google continues to innovate is with its suite of tools to rival traditional Microsoft Office elements. However, Google Docs isn’t just great for word processing and creating spreadsheets, it’s also a fantastic way to store your documents! With a storage space capacity of 1GB, you can do quite a bit if you have a Google account. And of course being a Google product, you can easily search for your documents as well as collaborate with others to make edits, etc.
  • AboutOne, $30/yr: Mandi has mentioned AboutOne before, and for home managers who are looking to do more with their data, such as create printable reports and organize documents by person and topic, AboutOne offers a one-stop solution for storing, organizing and analyzing your home management documents.
  • Shoeboxed, $9.95-$49.95/mo: For businesses who are looking to outsource the scanning, organization and filing of their receipts, documents and business cards, Shoeboxed is an online service that allows you to mail in your “shoebox of papers” so they can be scanned and stored for you.

I hope this was helpful in getting you started with ways to store your documents with some great digital tools at our disposal now. With these options, you have no excuse to complain about a messy desk!

How do you deal with paper clutter in your home or office?

Andre is passionate about the uses of new media and technology and the role they play in bringing about social change. You’ll find his thoughts on public health and innovation through his blog, Pulse + Signal and via Twitter.
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