Paperless pays off!

If you have followed my blog for the past several weeks you have seen me on a bit of an organizational/paperless tear.

Today it payed off -- I had ordered a gift for someone and the first thing I did when I got the package was scan the packing information (essentially receipt) and saved it in my 'Receipts' DropBox folder.

Today I learned that the person I bought the gift for is already getting the item -- Instead of waiting until I got home, trying to find the details, and then trying to call them the next day to process the return I was able to pull up my receipt off of DropBox (I sync my Work computer to DropBox also but I could have easily grabbed it off the DropBox web interface), call up the vendor with all the details and get a return processed.

This whole process works due to a couple of thing that are available today but weren't available even a few years ago.

  • Painless Scanning -- My ScanSnap makes scanning completely painless.  If you have never used one it's impossible to describe but scanning a document is so simple, foolproof and fast that you don't ever think 'is it worth it' -- It's actually less work to scan then to think "Where do I store this"
  • Files Everywhere (& backed up) with Dropbox.  I have the 50GB account but I only use about 5GB so far -- This is after scanning like crazy.  The fact is scanned PDF's just don't take much space and with Dropbox I can always get at my files.  The nice thing about getting a paid account is that they keep backup versions (Forever?).  Even if you later delete it to get more space you can go back later and retrieve it via the web interface.
  • Evernote.  I kept track of my return number and dragged a copy of the receipt into Evernote in my 'To Do' folder.  In the next few days I'll mail the item back (Scanning my proof of shipment of course), add it to the note (so it has: my original receipt, my notes talking with the CSR on return details, and proof of mailing in a single Evernote note)  -- This note will drop into my 'Completed' folder once my credit card is returned.

It may sound like I'm a serious type-A which is generally not the case.  I like being organized as much as the next person but generally don't spend the energy to actually do much about it.  With these tools however it's really pretty painless.  What makes Evernote & DropBox especially attractive is they are not tied to one computer.  They are at Work, at Home and on my Phone.

Finally I want to comment on the ScanSnap.  I really hesitated on buying it: $400 for a scanner? but it's one of my better purchases of 2009.  It completely exceeded my expectations and I've long forgotten the money I spent on it.


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