Going paperless #overnight

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A few days ago I moved, again, with all my belongings. This was the perfect moment to get rid of a maximum stuff. All the things you throw away won’t have to go in a box, won’t have to be carried and taken out of that damm box. Pure simple.

There is was always this unsexy cardboard full of folders. Those papers your are legally bound to keep for 1 to 10 years. Sometimes for a lifetime (link in French). You store them nicely in folders and carry them around with every move. Not anymore, I went paperless and digitalised every single paper I had to keep.

How to do it

  1. Open every folder and sort. That is the best moment to filter out the trash. Throw away all the invoices, warranties of stuff you don’t own anymore. The advertisement you might have kept, General conditions you can find online, etc.
  2. If you don’t already use it, get an Evernote account.
  3. Start scanning! Evernote have an great “document recognition” tool. You just need to place your iphone on top of the sheet. Evernote will recognise the edges of the document and snap it. I did scan around 400 sheets in 5hours… Faster than any scanner.
  4. Tag and name your documents in Evernote. This will ease the process when you want to find them again.

The pros

  • I got rid of tons of paper. No more folder, no more boxes
  • My whole paper pile is searchable! Evernote has a great character recognition tool. So if now I need anything, I can just use the search tool. And it will search in my scanned docs. Awesome!
  • Your documents are always accessible, from everywhere.
  • No need to buy a scanner. Just an iphone 6… I wonder if the camera is good enough on older version (5). I’m pretty sure the camera of a iphone 4 is not sharp enough for good results.

To consider

  • Evernote will upload everything to there servers, in the US. So if the NSA wants to see your medical docs. Now they can.
  • Evernote will not be persistent forever. They might go bankrupt, they might get hacked and loose all the data. You should make sure to export your data out of the software and backup it somewhere else.
  • And if in 10 years you see that no one is using JPEG anymore, then export your scans in another format.
  • Now that you have a lot of “confidential” documents online, it might be the right moment to change your password strategy.

Note to myself: do not trash your “expensive looking paper”. Someone might want to see the original one (ex: “certificate of origin”)…

Did any of have a similar strategy?

Yann Graf
I am an experienced Digital Strategy Consultant based in Switzerland. After over seven year respectfully crafting and improving the digital presence of Terre des hommes, Nautilus and G-Star Raw, I am now a freelancer. Please have a look at my Portfolio


  • Louis says:

    I’m doing this since 2010. Every that comes in get scanned; even document that aren’t much important, but worth keeping a trace.
    I use a real scanner, as I don’t have much faith in those snapshot scan apps. I scan BW/greyscale, so it’s lighter but also faster, I save them as PDF so I can do multipage and I can control better the print side.
    Then I store everything on my home server, that has a cloud function (with an OS software and app, like does Dropbox). It gets backups online, crypted, daily; but only the documents side of the server.
    The searchable function on Evernote seems nice, but from experience not much needed.

    I still keep some papers. But wondering on legal side, if I still need to keep documents like payslips or electricity bills.

    • Yann Graf says:

      Thanks for sharing. I’m must say I was quite amazed by the snapshot scanning. It is not always perfect, but it almost always looks better than a usual copy.

      • Jean-Marie says:

        And FYI it is also perfect with the new scan app of evernote on a iPhone 5s.. I was also amazed by the result !! I do it too, locally stored by theme & year with an automatic copy of my whole computer in the cloud to make sure I keep copies even if my beautiful iMac disappears… (backblaze.com)