Going Paperless

Last year I thought about having a new years resolution about going paperless. The length of time to write that previous sentence could probably be longer than the effort I dedicated to that task last year.

But this year I’m going to give it a shot. Not really as a resolution, but more because I used Evernote to handle my ToDo List, attempted a new way of doing things (FWIW I used my own take on GTD, I then tried to be more expressive with TSW which didn’t really work for me), which left everything in a bit of chaos. Whilst tidying Evernote out, I decided to Google around and re-read some stuff about going paperless.

So as part of my tidy up of my To Do List, I’ve decided to look at how I use Evernote and attempt to basically put everything in there from now on.

Setting Up Evernote

1. !Inbox default notebook. Everything will go here. Any email requiring more than 5 minutes work will end up for re-evaluation. Any photos I take from my phone. Any notes I take on my phone.

2. !Journal – This is my day-to-day recording of what happens each day. I start with the 3 things I want to accomplish that day (hat tip to: Getting Results the Agile Way). I also do my best to summarise what happened that day, and record my daily exercise routine.

3. Then 3 Notebook Stacks:

  • Personal Life (contains any personal documentation, car stuff, exercise articles etc…)
  • Masters Degree (with a seperate notebook for each module and my disertatation)
  • Work (seperate notebook for each project, conferences and a general folder)

4. Finally a ToDo notebook, with an individual note for the next action. I also use tags here to essentially break tasks into those relating to Home, Work or my Masters.

Getting ‘Stuff’ In

Emails

As per the GTD guide, any email to any of my accounts gets the following treatment:

  • Resolve in less than 5 minutes, now – Do It Now (and then decide whether to delete or file. If I may require in future, I email it Evernote).
  • Defer It – Send straight on to some else.
  • Don’t Do It – Delete it.
  • Do It Later – Send it to Evernote !Inbox notebook to classify and sort out.

There are 2 ways I do this. Evernote has an excellent MS Outlook Plug-In – so any work emails get a click of the plug-in and they get transferred to Evernote. Other accounts are web-based, and I simply forward them to my Evernote address (Note: create a contact called Evernote). I am considering on a couple of my less frequently used emails to try and do auto-forwarding.

Paper

Any paper I receive through the day (and to be fair, its not much), a similar process exists as email. Bin it (well, recycle it), do it or send to Evernote Inbox for later. In order to help with this, I’ve got 2 applications on my Android phone. CamScanner works really well at capturing high quality, readable images – so anything with important steps I capture via that route. It integrates nicely with Evernote.

If the quality isn’t required, then my Evernote app comes with a widget to quickly capture an image and send to Inbox.

Ideas

The Evernote widget also has a quick link to create a text note or an audio note. These notes also captured the GPS location, so (should I need to?) I’d be able to figure out where I was when capturing the note.

All That Old Paper

Well, nope. I haven’t got time really to go through it all. I also don’t own a scanner (yet!). My thoughts at this point is to capture stuff as it arrives, and then if I go hunting for anything, I’ll capture the located document at that point.

Thats It

So here we are. I’m not really sure where this will lead, but I’ll give it a shot. Probably best to review again in 6 months time for how things are going. No doubt they’ll be plenty of lessons along the way.

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