Bought a new scanner recently – a Canon DR-2050C … it’s a small upright sheet feeding scanner that is ideal for large runs of A4 sized paper (eg bills / bank statements / documents).
I’m working towards a minimal-paper office (I know fully “paperless” is just wishful thinking at this point) … and the scanner is already proving very useful. I scanned in a heap of old bank statements and phone bills – over 1200 pages in one day alone !! It takes no more time to scan duplex (both sides of the paper), and each page is out in around 2-3 seconds, so it doesn’t take that long to do a large batch. Scanning direct to PDF format is very useful – and a great way to archive the documents.
Once I’ve archived all the old statements and bills that I want (or need) to keep, I’ll just scan new documents as they come in.
Fortunately more and more of the statements and bills I receive are starting to be available in electronic format. Already my ISP, web hosting, domain name registries, virtual fax and voicemail, VoIP provider and many others send me electronic invoices … but also the banks are starting to do electronic statements – Westpac and American Express are the first I’ve stopped receiving paper statements for. Other documents such as annual reports and statements from share registries are starting to be sent electronically too.
It’s satisfying to be able to make significant inroads to the volume of paper I collect daily – both through receiving less paper-mail, but also being able to then store it in electronic form to save space and filing time.
I’ve been keeping all my bills and statements in folders (the big 2-ring binder style) – I collect all bills and statements in a tray on my desk and once a month or so I’ll go through them all and file them away into the respective folders. This has worked really well for the times I need to locate a particular bill or statement, but it is rather time consuming and cumbersome. What’s more – I’ve got so many folders it’s taking too much room on our bookshelves.
I’m running out of room on the bookshelves, so I was going to buy another one just for the folders. We don’t have that much more room in the office – the right kind of shelves could fit under the window, but I didn’t really want to clutter it up too much. Now that I’ve been able to start scanning in old documents in large batches, I’ve started to use less folders already. Once I’ve gone through them all – I expect to free up at least one full bookshelf for other things like, well, books! The savings in shelf space and the fact that we won’t have to buy another bookshelf will help offset the cost of the scanner nicely. The time savings will add up pretty quickly too.
Of course, with everything stored electronically – you need to be sure that you have a reliable backup solution. That’s a topic for another time though !