Going Paperless: Learn & Start from the End
So how should I go about my paperless project? First learn from people who’ve done it before me. Then, start from the end. Sounds odd? It’s not. But first things first.
Even better, a while ago David has published an entire eBook about going Paperless. This covers lots of relevant tools and methodology through text and diagrams and even demonstrates short bits in the form of screencasts so you can see how exactly things work on a Mac. In fact that book finally got me started on my project. If you think about doing a Paperless project, start with reading Davids book. No better resource that I know of. And no, sadly I’m not affiliated ;-)
So, David structures the topic in 3 main parts 1. Capture, 2. Process and 3. Use. I think this “phase approach” makes a lot of sense. The 3 phase structure is perfect to a) give you the entire picture and b) help you develop ideas of what might work for you in detail. Different people will have different requirements and personal preferences for each phase and hence choose different tools and create their own workflows.
Now, whatever tools you choose, at the end of each phase there has to be a specific outcome – regardless of the setup. It’s simply the input for the next part of the overall workflow.
Start from the End
This made me think that in order to design the setup that works best for me, I should actually start from the end of the process. Start with getting clear about how I would actually like to use my documents. Start with thinking about phase 3.
- On which devices will I use my documents?
- Use documents online or offline?
- Share stuff with my wife?
- Use through specific apps or rather in a more universal folder structure?
- What tools do I actually enjoy using?
- How do I like to work?
Thinking about these phase 3 (use) aspects, it becomes obvious that the answers have a big impact on how phase 2 (process) would ideally have to look like. Simple example: If you like the comfort of a dedicated piece of software for handling your documents, then it’s worth considering to do the OCR processing of your documents through the Evernote service. The other way round – if you prefer working with raw file structures, then your OCR processing has to happen somewhere else. Phase 3 impact on phase 2.
Even more importantly: If you don’t like how you’ll use your stuff after you’ve gone paperless, it’s just not worth the effort. After all this is supposed to make our lives better ;-) And if it does not feel better, if it’s rather annoying than fun, then in the end you’ll automatically fall back to zero. So make sure you design your use-scenario in a way that you really really like.
Isn’t that great – in order to make sure your Paperless project becomes a success, you better start with the fun part :-) There are trial versions of software, there are freemium packages of storage solutions, etc. Take a look at them, play with them! Most likely Don McAllister has done one of his excellent screencasts on your selection! Finally choose what feels right for you and maybe invest an extra Dollar or Euro or Yen in that solution. It’s a good investment.