How I use Shoeboxed to scan all my documents

I still remember my first flatbed scanner I got back in the 90’s. It was big, connected via parallel port (remember those?) and took a long time to heat up and a long time to scan one page. The world has changed significantly since then. OCR technology has advanced to the point where it functionally works. Search technology replaces the traditional filing system. Where I once spent hours a week scanning documents and then putting them into folders, I now outsource all that work to Shoeboxed.

Meet Shoeboxed. I think of it has the Netflix of scanning. They mail me these blue indestructible envelops and I mail in things I want scanned. It takes a little more than a week after I put the envelop in my mailbox for pick up to when I get the email notification that my documents are ready for viewing. I also use the integration to Evernote to automatically archive all my scanned documents into Evernote. In the note, I get the date of the document (pulled from the receipt transaction date), a dollar amount, and payment type.

My intake and processing workflow:

1. All documents to be scanned goes into a shelf in a small cabinet we have near the door. This is our intake area.

2. Once a week, I sit down and stuff the documents into my blue folders. I paper clip documents that belong together to improve the accuracy document groupings.

3. I place the envelops out the next morning for pickup.

4. I get the email notification from Shoeboxed that the documents have been scanned and ready to use. I check Evernote to see that the files are indeed archived in my notebooks. I have one called SB Receipts and another called SB Other Documents.

5. Once a month, I’ll go through each document in the SB notebooks, tag them, and then move them to the appropriate notebook for future reference.

My retrieval process:

Since my documents are scanned and it goes through OCR processing, I can search the contents of the documents.

  • Search by tags – I have a tag for “2013 tax” to pull up all my tax deduction documentation
  • Search in a notebook – I have a notebook for all my home maintenance documents (and manuals for appliances)
  • Search by date and tag – For medical reimbursements, I search all dates in 2013 and tagged “medical”

I previously wrote about what type of things I send into Shoeboxed to be imaged. Since that time, I’ve trusted Shoeboxed to be my official record keeper for my tax documentation (deductions) and medical reimbursements (FSA). It’s much safer than the file folder I keep in the closet.

It’s also a great way to track all my home maintenance documentation, car maintenance, pet exam records, and warranty receipts. I’ve been historically really bad at keeping receipts. Instead of a literal shoebox, I now send it into Shoeboxed.

Disclosure: I’m a Shoeboxed Ambassador because I really believe in this product. I get a discount on the service to help promote the service. I’ve been using this service for nearly two years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It’s that good. Use this link to get 20% of your service.

Published by Daniel Hoang

Daniel Hoang is a visual leader, storyteller, and creative thinker. As an experienced management consultant, he believes in a big picture approach that includes strong project leadership, creative methods, change management, and strategic visioning. He uses a range of visual tools to communicate business challenges, solutions, and goals. His change strategy is to build "tribes" of supporters and evangelists to drive change in culture and organization. Daniel is an avid technologist and futurist and early adopter.

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