By Jamie Todd Rubin, Paperless Living Ambassador
When I first started going paperless, my goals were pretty simple:
- Reduce clutter
- Easily find things that I was looking for
- Have access to my paperless data anywhere
I started out gradually. I didn’t worry about scanning in my entire filing cabinet, because I almost never used the paper in that cabinet. Instead, I focused on scanning in all incoming paper. Over time, I began capturing other things like electronic receipts and statements in Evernote so that I had all of my documents in one place. Eventually, I discovered two pleasant side-effects of a paperless lifestyle that I hadn’t expected:
- I could automate some things that had been manual processes in the past.
- I could whittle down what I carried around with me to the point where I could carry an entire mobile office in my messenger bag.
These went above and beyond my original goals, but they have made my life substantially easier, allowing me to focus on the things that matter and get things done, no matter where I am.
Automating with Evernote
I took Evernote’s slogan, “remember everything” as a challenge. In addition to the usual assortment of documents I’d capture in Evernote, I wanted to see if I really could remember everything. I’m a fan of personal analytics and happen to capture a whole bunch of data about the things that I do. It’s interesting to look at, and you can learn things about yourself that you never knew. Some examples: I use a FitBit Ultra which counts the steps I take (and the calories I burn) each day. I have key count loggers that count how many keystrokes I’ve typed. This data is collected automatically, and thanks to Evernote’s variety of interfaces, it makes it easy to collect it all in Evernote. My weekly summary emails from FitBit are automatically filtered through Gmail into an Evernote notebook, as well as my key logging data.
But I can capture even more. All of my tweets go into Evernote automatically, using an IFTTT recipe I created. Starring an article in Google Reader will send that article to Evernote.
For all of this I take almost no action, just go about my day as usual, and when I run my saved search for “Yesterday” I see every note that was created. I can tell you how far I walked, how many calories I burned, what I tweeted, what I ate (thanks to Evernote Food), what I read, what came in the mail (can you say “royalty statement!”), what new word my little girl said. You name it, I’ve “remembered” it. I can do this for virtually any day.
It’s always amusing to go into a meeting with someone and impress them with how much information you have at-hand and how quickly you can pull it up. Once I went paperless, there was almost no effort to this.
My mobile, paperless office
I’m also able to work from pretty much anywhere. I no longer have to carry around books, laptops, folders full of paper. I can fit an entire mobile office into my messenger bag:
As a freelance science fiction writer and blogger, being mobile like this means I can work anywhere. Indeed, I am writing this very post on vacation, and while I haven’t laid out my mobile office as neatly as I did for the above picture, here is my paperless workspace:
With this office I can write fiction and write blog posts. I can transact business. That is, I can receive and sign contracts, review royalty statements, and more. I can read books for review. I can edit and annotate photos. I can listen to my music. I can scan in documents with my Doxie One scanner, which takes up virtually no space in my messenger bag.
It seems to me you don’t have to be a writer to take advantage of a mobile office. By going paperless, just about anyone can do it. You also don’t need a bunch of fancy gadgets. Substitute a laptop for a tablet. Use ear buds instead of a noise-canceling headset. Snap images of documents with Evernote on your phone, instead of carrying around a scanner. It still works. There’s only one things that I can’t do right from this very table, and that is print.
But then again, I haven’t needed to print anything out for going on a year now.
Interested in going paperless? Join in on Evernote’s Paperless Challenge and get started!