Can a scanner help me get organized?

June 11, 2012 | By | Comments (6)

I am drowning in paper.

The stream of incoming paper has been increasing gradually over the years, but recently I’ve really started to feel like the number of paper documents has reached ridiculous proportions.

There are the papers for the kids – report cards, Individualized Education Programs (IEP) reports and updates, permission slips, disclaimers, and notices. Then don’t forget the applications and proof of payments related to summer camp, the school bus and miscellaneous activities.

Plus, there are the papers related to running not one, but two, businesses – legal documents and contracts, state filings, corporate documents, insurance applications, tax documents, media contracts and more.

After being warned, on more than one occasion, not to lose such-and-such document because it’s the original, and only, copy, I realized that I needed some help. I needed a scanner.

But not just any scanner. I needed something that would be able to scan documents that could be 50 or more pages long. It needed to be able to handle two-sided documents. Color and black and white scanning was important, but I didn’t need anything that could also scan my old photos (that will be a task for another day). I also needed the scans to be e-mailable, because, more times then not, I was being sent documents that needed to be completed and signed, then scanned and returned to the sender.

What I thought I needed was the NeatDesk Desktop Scanner (normally $499.95, but as of this writing is $399.95).

Since NeatDesk sent me a scanner to try, I have been scanning EVERYTHING and I cannot describe how satisfying it is to finally be able to wrangle all of the paper. File folders filled with documents have been emptied and scanned. Important originals have been returned to their folder, but other documents have been discarded as I look to reclaim some of the space in my home and work offices.

I’ll admit I didn’t really have a plan for how I was going to organize all of my scanned files once I had them converted, so I was pleasantly surprised by the NeatDesk software that came with the scanner. Using the application, which is available for purchase even if you don’t own the scanner ($79), I am able to organize all of my scans into separate folders (Anders, Sophie, Home, Manic Mommies, Sundin Associates), adding descriptions, dates and keywords to each file to help me find it later. The software also has built in Optical Character Recognition capability, making all my scanned pdfs searchable (just in case I don’t remember what keywords I used).

The biggest risk to my new scanning strategy is that I’ve swapped one file management system for the other – so file backup is essential, lest I lose all the files I’m trying to keep track of.

Are you drowning in paper? What are you doing to manage the madness?

Image provided by NeatDesk via Twitter.