The key to the paperless office, I believe, is forming a habit of going paperless. That usually takes 21 days to form, and once its there, it becomes essentially second nature.
In the case of going paperless it really breaks down to these 4 steps:
1. Scan Your Papers
I have a set of “inboxes” on my desk that help me keep this straight. The top one is Bills To Scan. The second one is Important Documents to scan (and then file paper copies). And the bottom one is stuff to Consider Scanning (this includes receipts that aren’t business related but may be important, paper manuals for stuff, and other miscellaneous items).
This works well because Holley can (and does) use the same boxes for stuff.
When you scan the documents into Evernote they will initially be placed in your default notebook. Consider this your electronic in-box. Anything in here should be filed elsewhere during this process.
As you get more used to Evernote and use it more over time, you’ll find other ways of “scanning” stuff, such as emailing stuff directly into your Evernote account, using pictures, taking voice dictation into the system. It’s almost unlimited.
2. Organize Your Filing Environment
This is where Evernote comes in. Here’s what I recommend:
Create Notebooks for:
Receipts/Expenses (by year, quarter, or month, depending on how frequently you track this stuff)
Shows (by month) – this should include order forms, mileage, incentives you gave the hostess, etc.
Business Material – I find it’s useful to keep a copy of the career path, specials flyers
3. Mark-Up Your Documents
Create tags for your items. These are little one or two-word tags that are applied to each of the documents you create. You can then later quickly pull up every document that has the tag “Expense” or “Office Equipment” or “Utilities”
Keep your tags short and simple. Try to make sure you use the same ones, though. Don’t use “expense” and “deduction” and “taxes” interchangeably. These can be 3 separate tags that apply to different things, though.
In other cases (more for documents in general) you may want to pull out keywords from the document itself like “Recipe” or “Bread Pudding”
Remember, documents can have MULTIPLE tags! This is important. If something is an expense and a utility bill, then use both tags. Use several as necessary for each document.
4. File Your Documents
After you’ve marked up your documents with tags, you’ll want to move them into the proper notebook(s). I think the easiest way to do this is to right-click on the document and choose “Move to Notebook…” Then you can just choose the right notebook and you’re on your way. If a particular document fits multiple notebooks, that’s fine. Right-click and choose “Copy to Notebook…” and pick the appropriate notebook to copy it into. (For instance, your 2012 taxes should probably be in a “Taxes” notebook and “Important Documents” notebook.
Here’s an older but still useful YouTube video that gives a rundown on Evernote.
Also check out The 11 Amazing Features That Make Using Evernote So Freaking Awesome for a general rundown of how to use the software.
Evernote has an awesome add-on for your web-browser called “Evernote Web Clipper.” You can find it (for free) in the Evernote Trunk (where they keep all sorts of awesome Evernote Add-ons). Get the Web Clipper and create a notebook called “Read Later” or if you want to get more specific you can create one for specific types of research or reading. I recently made one for “Productivity Reading.” You get the idea. Any time you’re on a web page in your browser and you like an article but don’t have time to read it, you just click the elephant icon and it will let you put it in one of your notebooks. It’s like magic!
Technorati Tags: Business, Direct Sales, Direct Sales Husband’s Handbook, Evernote, Going Paperless, Home Business, Husbands, MLM, Paperless Office, Party Plan, Premiere Designs, Rodan + Fields, ScanSnap, Small Business, Software, Thirty-One Gifts