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Towards paper free – Part 1

As I think I’ve probably mentioned before, I like to try and use technology to simplify my life. I’ve always got some sort of project on the go and there’s one particular task that has risen to the top of this list; I need to tackle all that paperwork that keeps piling up.

I thought this particular issue might be of interest to some of my readers and customers, so I’m going to document the project on this site. I hate trying to keep track of all the paperwork that comes through the door, all those little things that either are important or might be one day. Quite frankly I’m a hoarder by nature, so I want to keep everything; my mantra is “just in case”. Trying to store and organise every letter, invoice, receipt or anything else that might be important is a bit of a difficult task. I’d love to go paperless, but that seems to be one of those dreams we haven’t quite achieved (see also Is technology our helper?).

In the digital world I love Evernote* and it’s ability to keep all sorts of data sorted and searchable so I would like to move towards the utopian dream of being paperless by using it to store what’s on my own paper. It’s worth mentioning at this point that there are several products on the market that can already do this for you with minimal fuss, but most need to be connected to a computer running Windows or Mac OS, only take one document at a time and are a little pricey. I’ve already got a fairly decent (if a little old and bulky) scanner at home with an automatic document feeder, I just want to be able to press a button, take the pile of documents in the top and send them to Evernote.

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Photo credit: GotCredit via Visual Hunt / CC BY

So the plan is to take a Raspberry Pi and use it to process whatever is waiting in the scanner and send it to Evernote – probably at first using the email address the Evernote supply, but I’d also like to look at using their API at some point in the future. This sort of thing has been done before, but still always based on a scanner that could only read one page at a time, and usually only sending by email.

I’ve been planning to do this for a while, so I’ve been piling up sheets of paper just waiting to be scanned, rather than even attempt to file them. It’s time to tackle that pile. I’m planning on coming back with an update in a couple of weeks with my progress.

Would you like to go paperless? Is a scanner that takes your paperwork and puts it somewhere digital the answer to your prayers? What other manual/analogue thing would you automate and/or digitise if you could? Write a comment below or contact us by email to start the conversation.

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