I’m no where near a paperless workflow. I’m about 60/40 digital and analog. I prefer to take handwritten notes. This preference leads piles and piles of paper. In a recent effort to organize my old files and papers, I found imaging is a lot of work.
For a successful scan, you have to remove staples, flatten the document, feed it through the automatic document feeder, monitor it to ensure that each page scans correctly, and then name the file. Once I have the file, I would have to tag, label, and date each document. For search, I have to run it through an OCR program.
Meet Shoeboxed. I call it the Netflix of paper. They send you pre-paid blue envelopes that fix 8.5×11 sheets of paper. You stuff it full of your documents and send it off. Each envelop is tracked with a unique tracking number and Shoeboxed sends you a message when they receive it and when they’re done imaging your documents. The service includes a quality control mechanism that includes automated scanning and a review by a person. For the most part, I found that the tagging and labeling of documents about 80% accurate. In some cases, the software scans and labels it something else. Usually this is just personal preference.
I also have the Evernote integration setup so my scans are automatically uploaded into Evernote.
Most recently, I have been cutting the binding off my old Moleskine notebooks. I put a binder clip and sent one off to Shoeboxed to test out the quality. My test document was 122 pages and each page was scanned beautifully. My notebook was a combination of black ink, pencil, and various colored inks. The black was scanned B&W, the color was maintained, and my pencil marks came in fine. Unfortunately, my document was over the page limit for OCR and my handwriting is terrible.
- Evernote does not perform OCR on PDF’s greater than 100 pages or 25MB.
- Handwritten PDF’s don’t get OCR, use tags to manually label the document.
- Keep a paper inbox to periodically stuff envelops and send them off for scanning.
Things I’ve sent in to Shoeboxed to be scanned recently:
- Christmas Cards! I paper clipped the card and the envelop together. The imaging center scanned in color and included the envelop. This comes in handy for remembering addresses.
- Car maintenance records. I send in the receipt and record I get from the dealership. You can either tag them or put them into a folder/notebook and that’s your maintenance records.
- Home maintenance records. Same as the car, I send in my contractor receipts as a record of work done. Also sent in my permits and inspection reports.
- Membership cards. Nearly everything that’s a member number, I have digital anyways. I sent in all my paper/plastic cards for record keeping.
- Old school reports. Most of these I keep for memory purposes but find that they take up a lot of space. I sent in some of my old school essays and reports to be scanned.