Digital Organization: How I Quickly Scan & Save Important Papers

Jul 30

Digital organization? Scanning? Papers? Don’t run away too quickly now!

Trust me, this paper girl hyperventilates into a paper bag at the idea of digital organizing. I get it. It’s a huge change in habits for those who have a love / hate relationship with paper. Organizing digitally involves baby steps. Rest assured this is a topic I myself am slowly embracing. As with all methods of organizing, you can count on me to test out the many options and present only the very best, simplest solutions! The digital organizing topic will be an ongoing series here on the blog and today we’re talking about my method for quickly scanning and saving papers.

I’m aware that the practice of receiving / keeping / sending less paper is one that communities are beginning to embrace. Bravo! And we have an easy choice in certain situations to go paperless with just a click, like paperless billing. There are also situations you can’t avoid in which paper must be kept, like birth certificates. But in the moments when paper ends up in your hands or mailbox, and you want to keep the info, but don’t necessarily need to keep the paper, scanning is the answer.

Personally, I’ve been taking small steps toward eventually (in the long future) being paperless. The push in this direction honestly stemmed from my accounting / billing process. When I purchase items for clients and then later invoice them, I send a copy of the receipt with included pricing. That way I’m not just sending them a random dollar amount and I also need to keep their info on file for later projects. There’s the additional requirement of keeping receipts for other business expenses and travel. In order to get through the efficiency finish line, I had to figure out scanning with the quickness…and preferably, a process that didn’t give me a migraine.

Anyone feel me?

My printer has a built-in scanner that takes forever to scan because I can only feed one item at a time, not scan in bulk. It also takes so long because once it’s scanned, I have to crop or edit the image and then save. Then start all over again. Put a hot poker in my eye please.

Thanks to modern day apps, scanning has been simplified more than ever. So that, my friends, is how I scan any and everything. The app I personally love is called Genius Scan. This is their little app icon…

The scanner allows you to quickly scan anything and save it as a multi-page PDF or jpeg file. You can even e-mail it from the app, which is what I do for clients after scanning their receipts. You can read all about the app here. And it’s free!

I’m NOT getting paid to talk about this app or anything else in this post. I’m just sharing my process. That’s it! 

There are many, many scanning apps on the market and I’ve tried a few, but Genius Scan is my personal fave. When you snap a picture of your document / receipt it automatically detects the page frame, crops it and corrects the perspective. You don’t need to take a perfect straight shot. Genius Scan will remove any unnecessary background. It enhances the legibility of your document: black and white or color post-processing. One of my favorite features is that you can organize documents with titles, tags and it has a search function. Typically when I do client shopping, there is an initial purchase followed up with a return or the purchase of more items. Maybe an exchange. When I scan in many receipts they will all be cataloged together by me simply adding to an existing document.

It has totally simplified my billing!

You can even print from the app and everything is password protected.

Now that you know my scanning tool, I wanted to mention one small addition I purchased for a mere $8 that has helped immensely. I discovered Scanner Bin in one of my NAPO newsletter’s and been in love since it arrived at my house!…

So how does this little cardboard box work? It allows your smartphone to rest on the box so you aren’t shaking all over the place taking that photo. Hello = me! But where it helps most is with batch processing and giving images a crisp, clear background.

You can keep the box assembled to use as a bin for items that need to be scanned or you can fold it flat when not in use. This is great for me to travel with or tuck away in my office…

How To Quickly Scan and Save Important Papers

How To Quickly Scan and Save Important Papers

There is a small cutout on top of the box allowing your smartphone to lay flat, which means your hands are free to adjust papers and press the camera button…

How To Quickly Scan and Save Important Papers

How To Quickly Scan and Save Important Papers

When I need to scan, I set my phone on Scanner Bin, open my Genius Scan app…

How To Quickly Scan and Save Important Papers

And scan away…

How To Quickly Scan and Save Important Papers

Again, I love how the app automatically locates the frame of my document, no matter the size. The above is a long receipt. Then I simply save it as a new document or add it to an existing file.

Easy!

This system works with papers of nearly any size. Just scan, save and organize however you wish.

Next month I’m attending an event at Evernote headquarters here in the Bay Area. So be prepared, there will be more to share on this topic. You’re probably familiar with Evernote – maybe using it with total efficiency, maybe not. I have an account but am in no way using it to its max potential. The event is specifically for professional organizers and am really excited to attend.

Are you taking the steps to go digital? Be sure to tell me how you’ve found simple ways to use tech to get organized.

Happy scanning!

comments +

  1. Katya says:

    What kinds of documents do you recommend scanning if you don’t have a business? Can you give some examples of your categories? I can see scanning receipts for taxes but I’m not sure of all the possibilities of this…

    • Samantha says:

      Great question!…and funny you should ask. That is my next post in this series. People often wonder what to scan and where to save for easy access. This app is a great spot for keeping documents, but I keep everything in Evernote. Look forward to that post this week!

      xo,
      Sam

    • Tina Ward says:

      Contracts, medical records, school projects, vehicle service records, magazine articles, genealogy records, personal letters to name a few. Pretty much anything you have been saving in paper form.

  2. Theresa says:

    Where are you saving the documents you scan? Somewhere on the cloud? I would worry about the security of personal documents on the cloud?

  3. Theresa Mori says:

    A caution about using scanned receipts to make returns – I checked with the retailers I use most frequently, and they will not accept a print out of a scanned receipt to make a return. They require the original receipt for returns. This policy defeats the major reason I would take the time to scan receipts. 🙁

    • Samantha says:

      Good point! And something I didn’t mention in this post is the reason I scan and send to clients is so they can “see” the receipt. I keep the actual receipt in their client file. I am generally the person do returns or exchanges so I keep the hard copy.

      Also, many stores have loyalty programs where you key in your phone number to pull up old purchases. I LOVE this program at the container store because it means we don’t even need to have any hard copy receipts.

      xx,
      Sam

  4. Susan says:

    I just started using Scanbot. I am scanning my receipts and monthly bills. I make a document for each new receipt/statement and then add to it the next time I have another receipt/statement to the same place. I am just starting to do this. I am keeping the hard copy for now until I am more comfortable with my process.

    What I like is having a place to see it all together.

    I’m looking forward to your future blogs on this.

    Thanks!

    • Samantha says:

      This is so great! Love hearing about new methods of scanning and how others are doing it. Thank you so much for sharing – I will definitely check out Scanbot!

      xx,
      Sam

  5. Gloria Hamilton says:

    Have you tried this app for scanning old family pictures? How is the quality? A traditional scanner can take forever.

    • Samantha says:

      Good question, I have not tried to scan images. I agree, those take forever. Even my home scanner doesn’t product the nicest quality when I have scanned a photo. I think scanning old family photos may be better off when sent to something more professional grade. Most of my clients that need scanning have a lot of photos…big bulk amounts…and if you do, they tend to offer a nice discount.

      xx,
      Sam

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