I hate filing paper documents. I never seem to find stuff again. I wish my filing cabinet had a search button that would automatically retrieve documents from the pile of junk.
So with things changing all around me, I decided to change the filing strategy as well.
Meet my new buddy: a Fujitsu ScanSnap 500. He is a tiny desktop scanner that can fit anything from business card to legal sized documents. The neat thing about the little baby are the facts that it not only features a duplex-scanning mode (front and back page are scanned at the same time), but it also produces Adobe PDF documents instantly. Each page is scanned in about 3 secs. After the scanned page is transferred to the computer, an Optical Character Recognition process tries to figure out the “words” on the scanned pages. This is a background process that can take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute, depending on the complexity of the document.
All documents are filed on a harddisk using “year/month” as the folder-criteria. So everything from this month goes into “2006/10″. This area is automatically mirrored to another harddisk (just in case). In a second step I use Acrobat’s full-text index feature to create a word-index from all the documents. This step allows me to search very quickly through a large set of PDF documents. Search results appear almost instantly (alright, I only have about 50 scanned documents in there, but I’m sure search times will not increase too much with more documents).
The software that comes with the ScanSnap also shows a nice preview of all documents that you have scanned so far:
And finally the paper-documents end up un-categorized in a file folder. I have one for 2006 with a separate drawer for each month.
I’m gonna keep using that for a while and see if this makes it easier. Wish I could get rid of the paper documents all together …