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Going Paperless!

You're About to be Redirected to the New Home of Ground Control to Major Mom: Going Paperless!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Going Paperless!

...at least that's the plan here....


Now that I have a handsome new office, I was hoping to work on bettering the family's reliance on stacks of paperwork everywhere.  I want to scan in our old bills, bank statements, and receipts, and clear our office of some of the stacks of papers everywhere.  I'm even debating going digital on some of our medical paperwork, such as our Tricare payout (or lack thereof) statements.

This was taken right after I'd put the books in the bookcase in early December.  After 6 weeks, it doesn't look this nice now.
I've been weighing in with my friend Paul about this issue.  He's probably the only person with whom I could have a conversation about filing paperwork who wouldn't run screaming in the other direction.  He's also considering converting his existing files to digital, and then make a habit of scanning in bills every month.

He and I have exchanged some ideas about "smart scanning", which is easier than ever these days.  You can now scan directly into PDFs that allow you to search for keywords.  For example, if you scanned in some medical paperwork related to having a baby, you could do a Microsoft or Mac search on "maternity" and if the word "maternity" is in the PDF, it's possible to find that document.

It also came up in our conversations how much better scanners are than 10 years ago.  Now you can get multiple-sheet-feeder scanners, double sided scanners, and inexpensive all-in-one systems, which include printing and copying.

My current file plan isn't very graceful.  I have two plastic tubs that hold hanging file folders (metal filing cabinets never move well).  I have a pretty basket in the office where I dump all bills, statements and receipts.  Every 2, 4, 25 weeks (depending on how busy I am), I'll sit down with the pretty basket and file the paperwork into the two plastic tubs.  Every New Year's Day (give or take a week), I shred the oldest paperwork using Consumer Reports' guidance on how long to keep records.  Shredded paper goes into the worm bin (which I still have, by the way).

I guess I can argue that at least I HAVE a plan, right?  But to go paperless would be AWESOME!  Especially for the major purchase receipts that I've been carrying around for years and years and years.  Just in case we need it.  I've had my Kirby vacuum cleaner for 11 years and it'd be nice to not have to worry about that little slip of paper getting lost.

This will be a lifestyle change for me, but I think I can do it.  When it's PCS (i.e. military move) time in a couple years, just having an external hard drive to protect instead of 2 tubs and 4 banker's boxes full of paperwork would allow more room in the car for the boys to stretch their legs too.

Which leads me to my next challenge, keeping up with data backups.  That's for another post...

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