Paper Free

How to go paper-free, organizing digital life, and creating clean workspaces.

What Should I Keep?  Going paper-free without losing anything.

What Should I Keep? Going paper-free without losing anything.

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

Going “paper-free” is a personal or professional goal for many.  It means to transition from paper as a mode of storing information in favor of digital resources.

There are many reasons for wanting to go paper-free, such as less clutter, saving physical space, concerns for the environment, or a minimalist aesthetic.  What ever your reason, clearing out filing cabinets may mean scanning and saving files to keep a digital version. 

When deciding to go paper-free, you may find yourself with a few questions:

  • Does everything need to be scanned and turned into a digital file?
  • Is there anything I need to save a paper copy of?
  • If I scan everything, how do I avoid “digital clutter”?

This article will address what to keep in paper form, what can get digitized, and considerations of digital clutter.

Read: How to go “Paper-Free”: Step by Step Instructions

What You Should Keep as Paper

It may seem a bit counter-intuitive to suggest keeping paper in an article about going “paper-free”.  But the truth is, there are some things you will want to keep a hard copy for your records, for safekeeping, or because current systems do not allow digital versions of the document in question.

Documents you should keep in paper version are called “Permanent Documents”.  Permanent documents have at least one of the following criteria:

  • Irreplaceable or difficult/costly to replace
  • Items with ink signatures or stamps that will not be transactionally accepted digitally
  • Sealed documents (such as transcripts)
  • Documents that may need to be accessed by someone else at your time of death or in case of an emergency

For example, you may be asked to present a copy of your marriage license when applying for a mortgage.  If you have a stamped copy (depending on your state or country), keeping this document will save you a trip to your county courthouse – and any associated fees!

Another example of a permanent document may be a last will and testament.  While you or your lawyer may have a digital copy of this document, having the latest copy printed in your filing cabinet can be helpful for your survivors. 

Finally, have a small packet of items in a fire/flood safe box that gives you the information in case of an emergency.  Digital versions are great, but it can also be helpful to have insurance policy numbers, agent contact information, and passports in a place that is easy to grab if you have to leave your home immediately. 

Examples of permanent documents:

  • Title of a home or automobile
  • Certificate or an educational degree
  • Sealed transcript from higher ed institution
  • Bond / Loan certificates
  • Licenses
  • Birth certificates and social security cards
  • Wills or trust documents

Important Documents for Digital Filing

The next question to ask yourself when going paper-free is, “what documents should I scan and save as a digital file?”

Some people prefer to scan and save everything in case it is ever needed.  Others wish to reserve digital space and avoid digital clutter.  What you choose to save is up to you, but here are some items we highly recommend saving as a digital backup.

Financial Documents

While you probably won’t need to save your receipt for donuts from three years ago (unless you are deducting it!) there are certain financial documents you should hang on to.

  • Tax returns
  • Business receipts / deductions
  • Quarterly investment statements
  • Debt agreements and loan terms

Read: How To Process Financial Documents in Evernote

Employment Documents and Contracts

Keeping a copy of contracts is a no-brainer.  Having digital versions can be helpful in locating the information you need quickly.  These documents will be great to have on hand:

  • Employee tax documents (W-4s, yearly W-2s, or 1099s)
  • Employment contracts and job descriptions (the latter is an informal contract of services)
  • Rental agreements and leases
  • Contracts for services: lawyers, builders, developers, contractors of any type
  • Legal filings and agreements

Policies and Warrantees

Insurance companies may keep a copy of your policy on their website – just log in and download!  But make sure you download the latest version (and disregard a previous version unless making a claim during that time period). 

Why keep a copy?  Because you never know when their portal may change, or worse, the policy changes from the one you signed up for!

Additionally, keeping a scanned copy of warrantee information from products you own can be helpful if you ever need to make a claim against it.  Create a digital file for a product warrantee, including any instructions or manuals if available, and add details about the product – such as when and where you purchased.

Medical Records

Health care in the United States is not centralized or universally accessible.  Coverage and providers may change based on location or employer.  Therefore, we recommend keeping a digital copy of all medical records.
This may include:

  • Prescription information, Rx #, drug interaction/symptoms information
  • Test results and lab work
  • Doctor’s orders and any recommendations from appointments
  • Scans, x-rays, and other important information pertaining to your health
  • Medical record numbers, health insurance information, and provider information

Be Wary of Digital Clutter

Once you have scanned and filed the important stuff, it is time to take a hard look at what might not be so important after all, and how this can contribute to digital clutter.

Digital clutter is just like paper clutter, but on a computer, hard drive, or cloud system.  It may seem innocuous at first, but too many unnecessary files have drawbacks.  They may become difficult or complicated to organize.  Or, even if well organized, old files take up space.  It may mean buying a second, or larger hard drive.  Or spending more money for more space in a cloud-based system. 

Truthfully, just because you CAN save a file digitally, doesn’t mean you should.  Here are some examples of files that can simply be skipped into recycling:

  • Old insurance policies that are no longer effective and no claim was made during the time of the policy
  • Receipts for products you no longer own or cannot return
  • Bills or statements to utilities from months or years past (the most recent version will do)
  • Brochures, catalogs, and mailer advertisements (record the information you need and dump it)
  • Outdated versions of documents for work
  • Scrap paper and notes if already recorded somewhere else

Anything else can be scanned, saved, or recycled at your own discretion.  Enjoy the paper-free lifestyle!

Featured photo by Sear Greyson on Unsplash

Posted by Amanda Parsons in Productivity, 0 comments
How to go “Paper-Free”: Step by Step Instructions

How to go “Paper-Free”: Step by Step Instructions

This article will walk through what “paper-free” means, and how to achieve it in your own home.

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

What is “Paper-Free”?

Paper-free is the concept that a workspace can be free of paper and rely on digital documents and processes. Paper-free is also aesthetic – no more filing cabinets, printing hard copies for records, or saving old documents in a physical space. It is a means of opening up space and getting rid of clutter. Technology supports searching and accessing important information from anywhere, at any time.

For many, going paperless is a stance to protect the environment by reducing the consumption of paper products and the subsequent processes of recycling or trash collecting.

What it isn’t

Going paperless in your home or workspace does not mean you will never interact with paper products again. It is the reality that paper is a major medium for communication. You will still receive paper in the mail. You will sometimes need to print and sign important documents.

Being paper-free isn’t about having no shred of paper in your home. It is about reducing your dependency on paper and finding digital alternatives to access information.

Tools You’ll Need

Before embarking on your paper-free journey, you’ll want a few tools to get you started:

A Computer

You don’t need a dedicated computer for scanning, but you will want a place to start uploading files. If you have a laptop, it will provide you the flexibility to scan and import documents from anywhere!

A Scanner

There are a lot of scanners on the market. Some integrate with note-taking apps, making your import process easier. Others allow you to scan multiple pages, or front and back, with the push of one button. This can save you time by making the process somewhat hands-free.

There are also scanners that are bluetooth, portable, or extra small. It is important that you find one that fits your needs. For example, if you have a lot of 8.5″x11″ multi-page documents you may want a feeder instead of a flatbed scanner.

For more information on choosing a scanner, check out this list.

Document Organization Software or Note App

This isn’t required, but very helpful. If you are scanning documents and saving as PDFs, you can keep them on your computer in the folders your computer likely has already.

However, there are many benefits to having a note app or cloud-based software:

  • Access your documents from any device at any time
  • Digital backups mean no worries about lost information if your computer dies
  • Ability to tag and search documents
  • Scalability – you can add more documents than you may have space for on your computer
  • Ability to collaborate on documents with family or team members

Here are some so software options we recommend checking out:

Evernote

This is the go-to for Office Otter, and holds a special place in our heart. Evernote has a robust list of features and provides a great way to organize documents.

The most impressive feature is its ability to scan and read PDFs – making it easier for you to search for the content you need!

OneNote

A top contender, especially for PC users, is OneNote. This application comes standard on any Microsoft Office package. Arguably, it has more features than Evernote with its ability to act as a digital notebook in both function and form.

Draw, highlight, add tabs or chapters – this application is great for tablet users. Plus, OneNote can be backed-up with the Microsoft OneDrive cloud system.

Google Drive

If you have a Google / Gmail account, you have access to Google Drive. This is the online file database with a limited amount of free storage each month.

This is a great option if you are also looking for software to create documents. Integrates with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

Dropbox

A big hitter in the cloud-storage market, Dropbox has been around for years. With their tight security measures and massive server capacity, Dropbox has become an enterprise icon for businesses looking to support remote employees.

Depending on the plan you sign up for, this may also be the most expensive option.

Bins or cardboard boxes

You will want to sort your paper workflow as you go. Having a few bins or cardboard boxes can be helpful. This doesn’t need to be fancy – and we don’t recommend going out and buying bins specifically for this purpose.

The Process

Step 1: Create Physical Station

The first step for going paper-free is to create a station or system for processing paper in your environment. This means having a place to put paper that needs to be processed, and then paper that has already been processed.

Where to set up this station

We recommend placing your station in a workspace, near your desk or a table. Having it visible during your regular activities reminds you to work through paper processing.

The process of scanning papers can take months, depending on how much time you have to dedicate each week. Therefore, we do not recommend converting your living room into a station unless you don’t have much paper to process.

Setting the station up in a way that majorly disrupts your life will leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

Have “bins” for storing your various stages of paper.

  • Inbox – The paper that hasn’t yet been sorted at all. If you have many boxes, bins, and file cabinets, your inbox bin will be a place to put 1 stack, drawer, or box at a time.
  • File – A set of items or papers that you definitely want to keep. This may include birth certificates, social security cards, marriage licenses, college degrees, etc. If you are unsure what to keep, put documents in this bin and then go through again at the end of the process. You may find you’ve changed your mind on some things!
  • Shred – Papers you’ve processed that has personal or sensitive information that you should shred for your protection before disposing of.
  • Recycle – Papers you’ve processed that can be recycled. Includes items already shredded.
  • Trash – Anything that cannot be recycled.

Step 2: Sorting Papers

This is the activity of going paper-free. You will be taking items and papers from your inbox, and processing through the various steps of scanning and to bins.

When you take an item out of the inbox bin, make a choice of where it needs to go. Ask yourself the following questions, in order, moving down the list:

  1. Do I need a digital copy of this document/file?
  2. Do I need to keep a paper copy of this document?
  3. Do I need to shred this document?
  4. Can I recycle this paper?

Tips for sorting papers:

  • Don’t try to sort and process all your papers at once. Work in batches. This will leave you with space and a feeling of accomplishment!
  • Immediately process paperwork from inbox. Don’t create additional processing steps (like “to scan” or “to have partner look at”). This creates more time and work for each document and is a form of procrastination.
  • Understand that not everything needs to be scanned. There is such thing as digital clutter. The more you scan the more digital files you will need to organize.

Step 3: Scanning Papers

This step isn’t very exciting. We highly recommend setting up a temporary scanning station in front of a Netflix enabled device.

READ: How to import documents scanned documents into Evernote

Tips for scanning papers:

  • Keep all papers for a single document in the same file. Separate files for each separate document.
  • Scan all your documents to a single folder (SCANNED FOLDER) you can sort through when you are done scanning.
  • If your scanner app allows you to name the file you are scanning at the time of the scan – do it! It will make sorting easier. Make sure to use the same naming convention for all your files.
  • Scan in batches. Either choose a single pile or bin, or just what you can finish during a movie. Don’t overwhelm yourself.

When you are done scanning a document, decide where it needs to go next (filed away again, shredded, or recycled) and move to the appropriate bin.

Step 4: Digitally Organize

Open the folder or notebook where all your scans are saved. The SCANNED FOLDER, mentioned above.

One by one, rename the file (if not previously named in Step 3), and then move it to the folder or notebook that is appropriate. Continue until your SCANNED FOLDER is empty.

READ: How to Organize Evernote for Ultimate Productivity

We recommend doing this step in batches as well. At some point, you may find you need a change of pace from scanning or shredding. This is another activity that can be done on a laptop in front of Netflix.

Tips for digital organization:

  • Don’t skip this step. It is much harder to find what you are looking for if your document is named “scan_00_043829.pdf”.
  • You may come across a document that doesn’t fit into any of the folders or notebooks you originally set up. It is okay to add new ones!
  • It is easier to remember how to name a document, and what it is, after you just scanned it. Integrating this process with scanning will make it less daunting at the end.
  • If more than one person needs access to documents, grant access in your document storage as appropriate.

Step 5: Physically Organize

Once you have scanned your whole life into a digital platform (yay!) you will likely find that there are still some papers you can’t part with. These will be the items you put in your “to file” pile.

This pile may include movie ticket stubs from a first date, child’s artwork, or important documents like a birth certificate.

Only you can decide what you should keep. However, if you find you are adding a lot of things back into the “to file” pile while sorting, go back through after you have finished processing all your other paperwork. Treat this pile like an inbox and make the decision again whether to keep or recycle. You may find that some things aren’t as important the second time around. Or, you may find that your child’s artwork can be scanned and treasured as a desktop background for years to come without the need to take up space in your cabinet.

Take time to physically organize the remaining items. If it is sentimental, add it to a box and label it “Memories” so you can go through it from time to time. For things like marriage licenses and birth certificates, we recommend putting them in a fire box so they are secure in case of an emergency. Copies of insurance policies and contracts can be saved in a small filing box.

Maintenance of Paper-Free

Don’t be discouraged when you realize that the stream of paper doesn’t seem to end. You will still get the mail or have contracts to sign. Paper is a major medium for communication in our society.

Here are some ways to maintain a paper-free space:

  1. Keep a small inbox on your desk to collect all the things that need to be scanned and sorted. Continue the process above daily or weekly and you will find it stays manageable.
  2. Recycle or trash junk mail immediately before adding important mail to your inbox.
  3. Don’t accept brochures or business cards. Instead, take a photo of the information you need, and hand it back!
  4. Choose paper-free billing. Some companies will offer you a discount if you opt-in to paper-free billing for credit cards or utilities. Instead of receiving a bill in the mail, you will get a statement or reminder emailed to you!

Enjoy a tidy home and office!

Featured photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash

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Posted by Amanda Parsons in Productivity, Tutorials, 0 comments
How to Import Documents into Evernote

How to Import Documents into Evernote

This article provides instructions on how to import documents into Evernote.  This can be helpful as a way to use Evernote as a document manager and keep everything in one place. 

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

You can do more than just take notes with Evernote.  Evernote has the capacity to be a document manager, as well.  Add files to an existing note to annotate, tag, or sort for reference later.

There are three ways to add files to Evernote:

  1. Add an attachment
  2. Scan to Evernote directly
  3. Take a Photo with Evernote Phone App

Add An Attachment

This option is for importing a file that already exists on your computer. 

  1. Open Evernote in a browser, or on your desktop.
  2. Create a note and add a note title.
  3. Add attachment using the paperclip icon for a document, or the shutter icon for a photo or image.

Select the document you want to upload.

Important Notes:

  • Multiple attachments can be added to a single note. 
  • Document Files, spreadsheets, and presentations will display as a bar and name (screenshot).
  • PDF documents can be viewed in full. 
  • Both formats can be downloaded at a later time to a different computer.

Scan To Evernote

This process requires you have the Evernote desktop version downloaded on your computer.  It also requires a scanner.

Scanning to Evernote is useful for converting paper files into digital PDF documents and uploading to Evernote without saving a copy on your computer. 

  1. Open your scanner software on your computer.
  2. In the “Scan To” option, find and select the Evernote Desktop Application
  3. Scan the item with the settings needed for your scan.
  4. Items will automatically be added to your default notebook.

For more detailed instructions based on software and scanner brand, see the following:

Epson - Document Manager
  1. Open the Document Capture software installed when you set up your Epson scanner.
  2. Make sure your Epson scanner is turned on and connected to your computer either hardwired or Bluetooth enabled.
  3. Select the “Manage Job” icon (paper with gear), or select Manage Job from the Scan navigation menu.
  4. Create a job function on the pop-up window. This will allow you to create individual settings for different scans, such as single-page text scans, or multi-page color and high-resolution scans.
  5. In “Destination” select Evernote, and the notebook you want scans to be added to.
  6. Save the job – and start scanning!

Take a Photo with the Evernote Phone App

You can add documents and images to Evernote using your phone.  This feature allows you to add to an existing note, or create a new note.

Add to an existing note

  1. Open the app
  2. Choose the note you want to add the document or photo to
  3. Place your cursor in the location of the note you wish to add the attachment
  4. Tap the Camera icon at the top. 
  5. If you are taking an image photo, tap the screen for the shutter button to appear and tap the button to take a photo.
  6. If you are capturing a document, place the document on a contrasting background and line up with the guides in the app.  The app will take the photo automatically when aligned correctly.  Continue taking photos to add to the collection.  Tap the green checkbox when done capturing.

Create a new note

  1. Android: tap the Add icon and options will appear above.  Select the camera.
  2. iPhone: tap and hold the Add icon for options.  Select the camera.
  3. Take photos of the the document or image you wish to capture.  Tap the checkmark when done.
  4. Label the note.

To attach an existing file from your phone, follow one of the steps above (add to existing note or create a new note) and instead of tapping the camera icon, tap the paper-clip icon to add an attachment.

Posted by Amanda Parsons in Productivity, Tutorials, 0 comments
How To Organize Evernote Notebooks For Ultimate Productivity

How To Organize Evernote Notebooks For Ultimate Productivity

You’ve heard of Evernote before – maybe you have even used it casually in the past to take some notes.  But you are now ready to actually use Evernote to its fullest potential.  Because I can tell you right now, Evernote isn’t just a note taking app.

At base, Evernote is a series of notes stacked together with a few different search features (notebooks, search, and tags), the utility of these functions is entirely dependent on how you organize Evernote notebooks.

This article will cover how to organize your Evernote notebooks so that you can make the most of the program.

When you are done with this process, you will feel so organized and productive and ready to take on the world!  Everything will fit into its perfect place and that will make you unstoppable.  

Disclosure: Guess what? Otters eat over 10 pounds of sashimi a day! To help offset the cost of food (and running this website), we receive a commission if you click on a link and purchase something.

Before We Start

Download Evernote for Desktop

While you can perform many of these functions on your phone or a tablet, I highly recommend downloading Evernote to your desktop/laptop for these steps.  It will be a lot easier for this set up.

No Tags – Just Notebooks

For this process, I’ll be walking you through how to set up your Evernote account using Notebooks and Stacks.  If you are new to Evernote, this is how to set up Notebooks and Stacks.

You can follow along with these instructions by opening your Evernote desktop application and creating notebooks along with this post.  At the end, you will be on your way to a better, more organized life!  

!Inbox – The Foundation

I can’t take credit for inventing this trick, but I have seen it repeated a lot among Evernote Community because the functionality of an inbox is so powerful.  I learned about this from Stacey Harmon, an Evernote genius, who has found a way to use Evernote to literally power her life.

An Inbox is simply a notebook with all the notes you haven’t yet processed, filed, and/or tagged.  They may be notes without proper titles or unfinished thoughts.  They may be notes that are sent to Evernote via your email inbox or a bookmark you pinned from the Evernote Web Extension.  

Evernote Notebooks Left Side Bar System
Your Notebook Layout will look similar to this when you are done reading this post!

The word “Inbox” says it all.  It is the first spot dumping ground for you to sort through.

Why the exclamation point(!)?

Because it makes the notebook show up at the top of your notebooks list.  The list is alphabetical with symbols taking priority, followed by numbers, then letters.  

Make !Inbox your default notebook.

Then, anytime you jot something down it will show up there for you to review later.  You will regularly go through your Inbox, just like you do with email, to find something you haven’t finished yet.

If you have been using Evernote for awhile and are looking to reorganize existing notes, move all your notes into !Inbox to sort later with this new organizational system.

.System – A Reference

The next notebook you should create is a reference notebook.  This notebook will include notes that specify how to organize Evernote notebooks.  

You are going to love your organizational system – until 6 months from now when you get your tax return and you can’t remember if you were planning on filing that under “finance” or “business”?

This is how .System helps.  It is a quick reference notebook with notes that help you remember your own filing system.

Create three notes in this notebook:

  • Notebook Categories
  • How To Title Notes
  • Evernote Tips

The Notebook Categories note will be a bulleted list of all your notebooks and stacks with a description of what goes into each notebook.  

Example of Notebook Categories Note to sort Evernote Notebooks
Pro Tip
Follow along with this article and fill in this note as you go!

The How To Title Notes note provides instructions for processing notes before filing.  I find this helpful for financial or transactional notes.  

Screenshot of how to title Evernote notes

Finally, Evernote Tips.  As you become more familiar with Evernote, you will start learning new tips and tricks that help you become a better user.  
Evernote is more powerful than it first seems.  Use this note to keep track of all the Evernote tips that are interesting to you.  

You can start by creating link to this article for easy reference!

1. Finances

Now we get into the numbered notebooks in your organization.  This is the location of all your financial documents, which includes the following:

  • Receipts
  • Bills
  • Statements
  • Tax Documents
  • Paystubs
  • Contracts

In this category you have two options:

  • Option A: Create a stack of financial notebooks
  • Option B: Create a singular financial notebook and rely on the title to specify the financial note item.

Choose option A of you are uploading most if not all of your financial documents and/or you have hundreds of financial documents you need to sort through.

If you choose option A, create notebooks for all the above categories and then join them together in a stack.

Choose option B if you are only using Evernote for a couple categories (such as Receipts for your business and the occasional statement) and you don’t need to sort through all the notes at a more granular level.

If you choose option B, you will want to make sure you follow the Title and Tag process carefully so that you can easily search your notes.

You might like: How to Process Financial Documents in Evernote

2. Work

You don’t have to use Evernote at work in order to include a notebook with work-related items.  For each job you have had, or currently have, create a notebook.  In each notebook, create/upload notes for the following items:

  • Resume you used to get the job
  • Job description with specific dates and location of employment and manager contact information
  • Performance reviews
  • Projects, documents, and emails you are proud of (portfolio)
update status of job application in evernote

Job Tracker Template

Quickly check the status of your job applications and never forget to follow up again!

Quick note...
I don’t actually use this set up for work, since I use Evernote for my business. I have a stack for each business (see Work A and Work B in notebook image above).

If you use Evernote for work, or use Evernote business, this section may look different for you, too.  

Let me know in the comments below if you are interested in an article on how to set up Evernote for your business (or how to use the ‘Evernote for Business’ product).

3. School

If you are in school, Evernote will serve as a great tool for you for many years to come.  

I recommend you create new note for each class you are taking, and treat the note like a diary of events and lecture notes.  As additional projects are added, link to them from your main class note.  

Read: How to Stay Organized in School with Evernote.

If you are no longer in school, but you have documents you want to save from school, create this notebook but give it a number lower down on the list.

4. Health

This notebook is a great way to easily reference your health history, experience at a doctor’s visit, details on your prescriptions, and more.  

I have a singular note for each family member in my household that contains an ongoing diary of health history.  

If you have regular prescriptions or a preexisting condition you need to track, it might be helpful to create a note specifically for each issue to track separately.

A diary note is a great way to include all information in one location.  Here is an example:

Health Diary Example in Evernote

Add to your diary by linking to additional notes in this notebook.  This cross linking will make it easier for you to reference additional materials.  

Using the example above, let’s say you want to include the specific prescription you received so you know what type of antibiotics you were prescribed.

  1. Take a photo of the prescription bottle or prescription note using your Evernote App camera function.  
  2. Add the photo note to your Health notebook
  3. While viewing the note on your phone, tap Share (or three dots on Android) and tap Copy (Internal) Link.
  4. When writing your health diary, paste the link in text.  The title of the note will be the link text.

Besides doctor’s appointments and prescriptions, this notebook is a great place to include an exercise routines, vaccination records, mental health information, or gym membership information.

Health insurance statements and medical bills will be categorized under “Financial”.

5. Home

This stack is incredibly helpful for anyone as it serves to collect all reference materials for your home.  

If you plan on using Evernote to go paper-free, you will be surprised by how much we accumulate that we never look at but can’t bare parting with.

Most common culprit?  Product manuals.  

Create the following notebooks:

Housing

  • Mortgage/Rental documents (Contracts, rules, addendums)
  • Conversations with your landlord (link to diary note post)
  • Homeowners/renters insurance documentation
  • Inventory of household items for insurance purposes
  • Note with reminders to change filters, or a list of all the sizes and power of lightbulbs you use in different lamps and overhead lighting

Manuals & Warranty

Scan in all the manuals and warranties for everything. Evernote Premium can search PDFs, making this a scan and done task. If you are using Evernote Basic, be sure to title the note with the name of the product.

This comes in handy: I ran out to my local hardware store to get a replacement filter, but forgot to write down the filter size. Quick search for my product manual and there it was!

Don’t want to bother scanning everything? You can find most manuals on line with a quick Google search. Add a link to the manual next to the name of a product in a note.

Recipes

Find a recipe online you want to try?  Bookmark it with the Evernote app and it will add it to your !Inbox.  Tried it and liked it?  Move the note to this folder for repeat use.  Or, move and then edit to include any changes to the recipe.

Also great for scanning in Grandma’s Secret Recipe so it never gets lost.

Here is an in depth look at how you can use Evernote to organize and keep track of recipes.

Bonus: Template for meal prepping!

Auto

Maintenance receipts, title, warrantee information, and anything else you need to keep your baby running in tip-top shape.

Lawn & Garden

Can’t remember where you planted tulip bulbs last year?  Create a yard map and writing in what you planted and where.  Also, any instructions on plant care or vegetable growing calendars.

Have someone else manage your yard?  Scan maintenance paperwork so you remember the last time fertilizer was added or irrigation was tested.

6. Important Documents

This notebook may seem kind of silly – aren’t these all important documents?  

This location is for all the important documents that you don’t want to lose but don’t warrant their own notebook.  Examples include:

  • Marriage licenses
  • Birth certificates
  • Immigration documentation and/or Visas
  • Contracts and NDAs that don’t fit anywhere else
  • Last will and testament
  • Court paperwork
  • Certificates, Awards, and Degrees
  • Credit Reports
  • Voter Information

7. Collectables

Think of this notebook as your digital scrapbook.  You probably have a shoebox full of these things already.  Or an actual scrapbook.  But part of going digital and ditching paper is preserving these memories in another form.  

Ticket stubs, love letters, postcards from your traveling aunt – this are all the types of things that make it into the collectables folder.  Scan, title diligently, add your thoughts and feelings to the note, and save forever!  

Besides memorabilia, use Evernote as a “commonplace book”.  A commonplace book was a type of journal people used to carry around with them that would include quotes, poems, recipes, equations – basically any bit of information people didn’t want to lose.  More thoughts on a commonplace book by Evernote.

A thought on photos…

Photos are collectable, and something that most paper-free people move to digital.  But – and this is hard for me to say – I don’t think you should use Evernote to manage your photos.  

While Evernote can certainly work to store your photos – the whole point of photos is to look at them!

8. Hobbies

If you have a lot of involved hobbies, you can certainly create separate notebooks for each and then combine them into a stack to keep it tidy.

Here are some examples of hobbies and the types of notes you might want to create:

Boating

There is a surprising amount of paperwork that goes with boating.

  • Certifications (swimming, sailing)
  • Permits
  • Manuals for boat maintenance

Role Playing Games

  • Character sheets (create templates you can fill in and use on your favorite device!)
  • Maps and dungeon information
  • Links to favorite or upcoming campaigns

Knitting or Crochet

  • Use web clipper to create links to new patterns
  • Uploads and scans of your favorite patters
  • Gift List – a “who gets what” of your annual creations

Reading

  • Note with a list of books you want to read
    • Add it to your shortcuts list so you can easily pull it up when someone gives you a recommendation
  • Note with a list of books you DID/HAVE read and when you finished them.
    • Great if you have a reading goal and to look back
  • Book reviews that you write

Hiking

  • Maps – upload them online to save space and then make a map available offline for when you go outside of your data range.
  • Keep a hiking diary so you know which trails you hit and how long it took. Also great to note whether you saw any wildlife and the weather conditions.

The sky is the limit when it comes to tracking hobbies!  

9. Business Cards

The Evernote app has a cool feature where you can use your phone camera to take a picture of a business card. It will then add that contact to your contacts list as well as connect with them on LinkedIn (premium feature).  

Then, Evernote keeps a copy in this folder.  

When I’m handed a business card, I take a photo right away and set a reminder to connect with that contact on whatever it was we spoke about.  

Oh, and then I hand the card back – because, you know, paper-free. 🙂

10. Templates

At some point in your life with Evernote, you will find you create a repeat style of note.  Maybe it is a recipe note, maybe it is a weekly task list.  After creating the note a few times you will realize that a template is what you need.  

If you have plus, premium, or business-level Evernote accounts, you can right-click a note and save as template.

Note
This is a new feature as of 2019. Previously, all Evernote users had to copy existing notes.

For those with free accounts, copy a note into your Templates notebook and remove all body content you don’t want to replicate (basically, create a fresh version).

When you are ready to use the template, copy your clean “template-version” into the notebook you want it to go and fill in.

11. Notes

I admit, the title of this notebook is a bit on the nose.  However, this is your catch all.  The place where you put reference notes to something that doesn’t fit into any of the categories above. 

Our lives are not neat and tidy (as much as we would like them to be). Inevitably, there will be something that falls outside of the realm above.  

That is what this spot is for.  

Simply make sure the title and text are descriptive enough that you can search for it at a later time.

If the note is something you need to act on, however, it should live in !Inbox so you don’t forget it.   Or, set a reminder.

And that is how to organize Evernote notebooks.  With all your notebooks and stacks laid out, you have all you need to be organized in this digital world.  

how to organize evernote notebooks

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

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Posted by Amanda Parsons in Productivity, Tutorials, 0 comments