Friday 7 November 2014

How to use Evernote to get clutterless and paperless


Every month or so I review all the clutter and paper accumulated in the home, with the goal of removing it or justifying its continued storage. I constantly ask myself the following questions:
  • Do I need it? Can I bin it?
  • Do I need the physical paper for my records? (Tax, Legal etc).  
  • Do I need the physical item or paper to remind me of an experience? (A souvenir or postcard or present)
  • Could a photo or pdf do as the record or for recalling the memory?
NOTE: Not all paper records can be replaced by scanned copies because there are still antiquated requirements for the original documents. For example: a will, birth certificate or lasting power of attorney.

By asking myself these questions I have managed to remove paper and clutter from my life. 

Why I use Evernote

The problem with the traditional filing cabinet is that you can only organise in a linear manner. A paper record can only be stored in a single folder within a single draw of a filing cabinet you cannot search.

In contrast an electronic record can be assigned multiple labels. Each label being a "string" you can pull to reorganise the notes, giving the impression of multiple duplicated records existing in many folders. This is commonly called assigning multiple contexts. In addition searching is improved by the elegance of Evernote. It uses an OCR feature which enables not only searching of the titles and labels but also any text within an image or a PDF. 

The Evernote mobile app has a feature which applies filters to the photo which makes the image look as if it had been scanned.  I use this feature extensively for "scanning" receipts, letters etc without the need for an expensive scanner.

So what examples can I give of how I use it?


Below is a list of examples of records I scan to Evernote and destroy the original:
  • Letters - Written and received
  • Business cards - Automatically converted to mobile contacts
  • Statements - Received both by mail and email
  • Invoices & Receipts - Same as above
  • Manuals - PDF versions of manuals are easily googled to replace the physical.
  • Leaflets - Just in case 
  • Completed forms - Incase I need to recomplete :)
  • Etc....
Examples of memories...
  • Birthday, Anniversary, etc Cards
  • Emails - Feedback, leaving messages etc
  • Speeches - Father Eulogy etc 
  • Souvenirs - Doesn't have to be paper
  • Presents - From other peoples holidays
  • Child's firsts - See my post on Parenting with Evernote 
  • Child's Artwork
  • and much much more...

Getting clear like that described above is a key part of GTD. Read more: Top 3 GTD blog posts