Paperless – further thoughts

Continuing to think about going entirely paperless. On reflection, it’s clearly one of those goals that you never really totally achieve. Instead, you look up from time to time and say “how can I do better at this goal.” This means that getting to 95% is “good” rather than “failure.”

The first really clear observation is that if this were to work, then my total time scanning and filing must be less than my total time standing up, walking to the filing cabinet, and putting stuff in a folder. Given full text searchability, and so on, I’m willing to accept a slight increase in the time to file a document, but this can’t be a complex or time consuming task.

Right now, I use a combined printer / scanner shared out over a wireless access point. Said access point shares only the printing capabilities of the device. The scanning part of the puzzle is still very simple to access. The printer / scanner has a USB slot on the front. Totally standalone, you can scan a document and save it as a PDF on a USB thumb stick. Then, moving the thumb stick to the computer, I can copy it to whatever folder I want. I think that could get irritating after a while, because it’s so obviously not the “right” way to deal with things. I mean, there is *already* a connection between the scanner and the printer. I shouldn’t need to move a dingus back and forth.

The second observation is that the major part of the solution is not actually the scanning. It’s the discipline to get rid of things that I don’t need to keep. Just changing from a default of “someone sent me something, I need to keep it,” over to “I probably don’t need to keep this,” would greatly reduce my ongoing document load.

Combining those two gets the scanning load down to a reasonable level.

The third observation is that this is an ongoing thing. It has to be that my default reaction to getting a stack of paper is “recycle most of it, shred some of it, and scan the important bits.” I think I can manage that going forward, but I need to fight the urge to go back through all my old records digitizing. That’s just an excuse to waste time.

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