The Paper Dragon
It's summer again, which means I have surfaced from my school-year tunnel vision and realized just how much the paper dragon has laid waste to my domain. And by paper dragon, I don't mean fanciful origami. I mean the paper clutter that lurks in every corner, threatening to overwhelm me with each glance. It looks like this:
Fortunately for me, I've discovered Evernote. At first, Evernote was just a fun distraction, one of the many free productivity apps I have played with in the attempt to feel like using productivity apps is the same as actually being productive. HINT: It's not. But as it turns out, Evernote is the first app I've ever used that has actually given me hope that a moderately paperless society could be in my future. And when I say that, you should understand the weight that my statement carries. Let me put it this way:
I. LOVE. PAPER.
And Evernote makes me feel like I could part with the paper. At least a lot of it. So, that's saying something. Also, I like and use Evernote enough that I opted to pay for the premium service. And I don't think that has EVER happened with an app before. So... I might love Evernote more than I love paper. It's a tight call.
I started using Evernote for to do lists, and quickly moved on to using it for journaling (pictures and comments from events, notes about the day, etc.), as a way to track my progress on my summer goals, as a place to store ideas that I want to implement next year, AND as a place to record information that I have written down. I can either summarize notes and type them in (if I'm feeling summative) OR just take a picture of the notes and put it in Evernote to reference later. Then? I GET TO THROW THE PAPER NOTES AWAY!! Wheeeee! I've done this with meeting notes, thoughts I jotted down, sketches I've made for ideas I've had, notes from doctor appointments, all sorts of things! And because I put the notes in virtual notebooks, but then can tag them for cross reference, finding them again is pretty easy, no matter how many random thoughts and notes I enter.
Skipping the Paper
Last month I went to a conference, and I started taking notes in the handy-dandy notebook the kind conference people provided. At some point during the sessions, I switched over to my iPad and started taking notes in Evernote. For the majority of the conference, I skipped the paper altogether. What made it so brilliant was not that I could type notes in. I can do that on just about any app. What was fantastic is that I could take notes, periodically take pictures as needed and insert them into my notes, and audio record the session at the same time. I CAN'T do that with paper. At the end of the day I took pictures of the few pages of notes I took by hand, and inserted them into the appropriate digital note. DONE!
Evernote doesn't pay me; in fact, I paid them.
I am not one of those fancy pants bloggers who is fortunate as to get compensation for endorsing products, or compensation for anything, really. I am, however, someone who has been thoroughly excited to find a solution for my own paper clutter. Some pieces of paper are important. The nice government people won't accept an Evernote version of my passport if I want to travel. But there is an awful lot of paper that I have in my house that simply doesn't have to be in paper form. The information is important; the textile delivery system is not. As I spend time this summer re-systematizing (as is my estival habit) I am excited to create leaner filing systems. I am excited to have less clutter in my life. And I'm excited to be able to access the information when I want it, not just when I'm near that particular piece of paper. Even better is that it works across all three platforms I use (android phone, iPad, and Windows computer) and automatically syncs so I don't have to put any thought into retrieval when I want the information.
I doubt I will ever be able to function in a truly paperless world. My paper dragon will never be slain. However, I am in the process of taming the paper dragon, which I find an admirable and attainable goal. As I make progress, I'm using the hashtag #TamingThePaperDragon. Feel free to join me on the adventure!