I think I’ve had an unbroken subscription to Scientific American for the last 15 years or so. This week, I gave up my paper subscription. I usually purchased my subscription for 3 years at a time, but the latest round was due to expire in June or July, I think. I’d started getting the reminder notices, telling me to renew my subscription. Well, after my experiment in January, seeing how the magazine looked in the digital edition on my iPad, I decided not to renew the paper edition and instead, subscribe to the digital edition.
While the digital subscription is about $5 more each year, there are three big advantages:
- I get each month’s issue a week before it hits the newsstands.
- I can read the issue on my iPad.
- I have access to the entire digital archive of the magazine going back to 1993.
That latter item is huge. I’ve already played around with it. I can access a PDF copy of about 200 issues of the magazine. I can download either the entire issue in PDF format, or just the article I happen to be interested in. Now, when reading a current article that refers to an earlier article, I don’t have to wonder about it. If it appeared in a post-1992 issue, I can get it and read it.
Of course, there is also the usual benefit of being able to search within the issues, to say nothing of not having stacks of magazines cluttering my office.
The only magazine I still receive in paper form is Time and I also get that in digital. I’d give up the paper version there, too, but Time does not provide an option for that. To receive the digital version, you must also get the paper version. Maybe one day they will figure this out, too.
In my capacity as Evernote’s paperless lifestyle ambassador, I get enough questions about the scanner that I’ve used to go paperless that it probably warrants its own short post.
I use the Canon ImageFormulaP-150M. The “M” designates its compatibility with a Macintosh, which is the machine it is connected to at home.
Why did I choose this particular scanner?
- I wanted something small, that wouldn’t take a lot of space on my desk
- I wanted something that would handle the volume that I typically have–usually less than 10 pages/day
- I required a scanner that was compatible with a Mac.
- I wanted a scanner that could scan directly into Evernote.
The Canon ImageFormula P-150M meets all of these requirements. It can scan high quality images, and can scan something like 14 pages per minute, which meets my needs. It has a programmable button that allows you to put your pages in the scanner, push the button and have the resulting PDF send directly to Evernote. I’ve been using this scanner for months and have never had a problem with it. It works very well and I have no problem recommending it for others who have similar requirements.
Here’s what the scanner looks like in action:
Today, Evernote is introducing a new ambassador program. They have asked a bunch of their hardcore users to become ambassadors in different areas of expertise to help spread the word on how Evernote can be used to make life easier in a variety of areas. I was asked to be Evernote’s lifestyle ambassador for going paperless.
I’ve heard whispers of this thing called a “paperless office” for more than a decade now. In my day job, where I work with technology on a regular basis, those whispers grow louder, but they’ve remained nothing more than loud whispers. People seems to like the idea of going paperless, but have a difficult time figuring out just how to get started. More than a year ago, I decided to cut my ties to paper at the day job. And in January of this year, I decided to do the same thing at home. The only reason I could do this was because Evernote provides the features and functions I need to “go digital.”
I didn’t get rid of all paper over night in either case. It is a gradual process that goes in stages. But moving to a paperless environment has not only greatly reduced the clutter and saved me time, it has made it easier to find things that I need–and because Evernote is a cloud-based application–that is, the data is stored on their servers–I can access my data anywhere. I don’t have to be pinned to my office where my file cabinet resides. I’ve sat in homeowners meetings and pulled up digitized versions of homeowner association budgets. When our second child was born and we were in the hospital, I was able to pull up digital version of medical records. Going paperless makes life so much easier!
In my role as ambassador for a paperless lifestyle, I’ll be writing some blog posts (like this) as well as monitoring Evernote’s discussion forum for going paperless and answering questions about how I use Evernote to go paperless. If you are interested in going paperless, please join in the discussion. You can find out more about Evernote here.
And for those who are interested in getting started with a paperless lifestyle, here are 3 tips that helped me when I went paperless:
- Start by going forward, not backward. When I decided to go paperless, I decided I wasn’t going to worry about the paper already in my filing cabinet. I was going to focus on incoming paper only. This made the job easier as deciding how to digitize an entire filing cabinet can be a daunting task.
- Start by keeping your notebook and tag organization simple. Evernote provides a lot of flexibility on how you store and organize your notes and documents. I opted to keep my “taxonomy” simple at the start. One thing that would discourage me, I was certain, was trying to remember how to file a document in a complex system. I use one notebook, which I call my “Paperless Filing Cabinet” and in that notebook, I tag my documents. But mostly, I make use of Evernote’s excellent search feature combined with Saved Searched to find what I am looking for.
- Establish a routine. I found for me that to go paperless meant to get the documents into Evernote as quickly as possible and then get rid of the paper. My routine works like this: when I get home from work, I grab the mail, sort through it, scan in anything I want to keep, and then shred the originals. I do this once every day at roughly the same time. It takes just a few minutes and it prevents paper from piling up.
I’d also urge you to check out the other forums in the Evernote Lifestyle discussion boards. They include things like Blogging, Outdoor Travel, Public Speaking, Teaching, and more.
I hope to see you in the discussion!
Last fall, I went paperless at work. One of my goals for 2011 was to go paperless at home. As I have discovered, this is not as easy as just dumping all paper. It takes a concerted effort, but one that I think has already started to pay dividends.
Going paperless requires replacing paper with digital versions of documents, notes, etc. And those digital versions need to be stores, organized and easily searchable for it to work. Furthermore, they need to be archived and backed up. I don’t know if my efforts to go paperless would have been possible without Evernote. For those who don’t know, Evernote is an application that allows you to “remember everything.” In its simplest form, it allows you to capture notes and organize them. The notes are stored in the cloud and are therefore accessible from anywhere you have an Internet connection. Evernote’s basic service is available for free, but I have been using their premium service (which gives you unlimited storage as well as a number of additional features) for quite a while now. Most importantly, perhaps, Evernote has a solid iPad and iPhone app that make capturing information and accessing your data from these devices easy.
What follows is how I have used Evernote and other tools to go paperless this year. I also outline how far I’ve managed to get in the first 8 months of the year, what challenges I’ve had, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
I’ve been a subscriber to New Scientist since October 2008. It is my primary source of keeping up with science and technology each week. For those who’ve never read it (or heard of it), New Scientist is a weekly science magazine out of the UK. It is usually around 48 pages and contains a summary of science and technology news, opinion pieces and op eds, as well as three or four feature articles in each issue. There are also book reviews, and letter columns. It is my favorite science magazine and I’ve tried very hard (although at times unsuccessfully) to read every issue cover-to-cover.
Back when I got my iPad, I downloaded the Zinio app which provides access to scores of magazine subscriptions in digital format. The nice thing about the application is that the digital version of magazine looks exactly the same, page-for-page, as the print edition. At first, I bought a single copy of New Scientist to see how it felt on the iPad. When I found that it was just like reading the print issue, I subscribed to the digital edition for a year, despite already having a print subscription.
This weekend, I received in the mail my renewal for the New Scientist print edition. And after some teeth gnashing, I decided that I was not going to renew the print edition when it comes up in October. I’m going to go entirely digital with New Scientist. There was one thing that made this particularly difficult: a subscription to the print edition of the magazine gets you free online access to the entire catalog of New Scientist back issues. There is a vast wealth of articles and information available and I like the thought of having easy access to that information. But in the end, I realized that in the nearly-three years I’ve had a subscription, I’ve only gone back to the archives maybe half a dozen times. And that’s just not worth keeping the print edition.
On the other hand, there are a number of reason for going digital:
I am beginning to play around with Evernote as a tool to store all of my notes and to-do lists in the cloud and have everything easily searchable and at my fingertips no matter where I am. So far, I’m pretty impressed, and it’s no surprise, since Evernote was one of the 25 best applications in MacWorld this year. (Scrivener 2.0 was another.) A while back I mentioned how I have gone paperless at work and in 2011, I plan on doing the same at home. Evernote Premium (which is what I am using) goes a long way to making this possible. I can upload PDFs and their content is searchable, even if the notes in them are handwritten. I can tag notes and provide all kinds of meta-data to improve the searching. I can clip articles from the web and store them. There are lots of nice features and plug-ins. I’m still in the early experimental stages but once I get going with this, I’ll let you know how it turns out.