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Mark Tebbe on how he’s ditching his hard copies and going digital

Mark Tebbe

Mark Tebbe

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Updated: February 3, 2013 8:59PM

One of the few downsides of my recent move from my suburban home to a downtown Chicago condo has been a dramatic restriction in space — especially in my office. When my wife sees the mounds of paper piled upon my desk, we both just cringe. Suffice it to say that I have become very motivated to get my office more organized, even with eight less file drawers than I had in my old home office. While I know that I’m not the only one with office organization challenges, I also know my wife is not cringing at your desk paper piles.

Fortunately, during my recent trip to the Consumer Electronics Show, I was able to try Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX500 scanner, which was introduced at the show. After testing various shapes, thicknesses and crumples of paper, I knew that the company had fixed the quirks of their older desktop scanner. As such, I ordered one online and it arrived shortly after I returned from the show.

After using the product over the past few weeks, I have to say, it’s a great scanner. While I don’t have the space (nor the inclination) to do a full review, I will say that I love that this product will scan a pile of variously shaped papers and quickly convert them to searchable PDFs. It will also crop and orient the pages while removing blank pages and correcting auto bleed-through (since it’s a double-sided scanner). Its ability to convert scanned business cards into appropriate fields in my contact manager is great — and the fact that it scans directly to my iPad is just another huge win.

But scanning these pages is only half my paperless battle; I need to organize these scanned documents in order to later find them. That’s where another great tool comes in: EverNote. The company describes their tool as an “external brain” and honestly, after using it for nearly four years, I have come to agree with them. To date, I have used it to easily find all of my captured information — whether I typed it or stored it as a Word document, audio clip or photo. And now, with my new updated scanner, I can easily convert and store my desk paper pile in EverNote for future reference. My newfound ability to discover my paperless information from the web, my computer, tablet or phone offers a freedom that I never had with my file drawers.

Now, I just need to find some free time to scan and organize those paper piles. But with these two products, I have the core foundation I need to get me past the paper pile “cringe.”

Mark Tebbe is donating his fee for this column to the Field Museum to help them better organize their collections.

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