January is the start of a New Year, but it’s also the National Association of Professional Organizers’ (NAPO) Get Organized (GO) Month, as we’ve touched on a couple of times this month. Since “getting organized” often is at the top of many New Year’s resolutions lists, organizing and productivity consultants take advantage of the start of the year to connect with their communities and educate the public about what it is we actually do, and how we can help you reach your goals for the year. And, just because January is Nation GO Month doesn’t mean your organizational goals need be limited to a 31-day period – these are things you’ll be working on/toward for the next 11 months.
One main goal that I help my clients with is going paperless. There are many ways to do this, including signing up for paperless billing, reading magazines and newspapers online and, most importantly, scanning the paper that does make it into their homes, and then shredding or recycling it rather than filing it (or worse, letting it pile up on their desks). Studies show that more than 85 percent of what is filed is never looked at again! My two favorite ways of electronic filing are Dropbox and Evernote, and I am often asked how to decide where to file what.
This is how I think of it. Dropbox is my virtual filing cabinet. If I am scanning something that I otherwise would put in a file cabinet, it goes in Dropbox in a folder named something similar to what I would have on a file folder. For instance, my taxes, categorized by year (and encrypted), are all in Dropbox. So are my financial statements, medical records and bills, business documents, and other files of a similar nature. The great thing about Dropbox is that once I have scanned in the paper documents using my ScanSnap or saved them as PDFs from downloaded computer files, I can then access them from anywhere in the world, as long as I have a computer. Very useful if you need your immunization records while on vacation in a foreign country!
As for Evernote, I consider it my virtual bulletin board. I put travel plans, recipes, organizing tips, knitting patterns, home decorating pictures, website links, and useful information of just about any kind into notebooks categorized by subject. The amazing thing about Evernote is that all information, whether it is handwritten, typed or computer downloaded, is automatically searchable. So even if you don’t bother to name your file or put it in a notebook, as long as you remember one word from the information you put in a note you will be able to find it by typing it in the search bar!
Of course, the best thing of all is that all models of ScanSnap automatically scan directly to both Dropbox and Evernote, among other services, so all you need to do is decide which one you want to put your information in, and start reducing paper and getting organized for the New Year!