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Going paperless not only saves trees, but it also makes for a very convenient digital environment. It will always be 10 x (or more) faster to find things that are stored digitally compared with the time it takes to find something in a shoebox or even a paper file, not to mention that pile of papers sitting to your right on your desk that you are scared to go through and find out what you overlooked 🙂 I came across this discussion in one of my QuickBooks Groups on LinkedIn and thought that based on my own set up it was not only a great topic, but certainly worthy of a blog post here based on 4 Apps that enable you to go paperless.

I use the following programs to facilitate a paperless office:

Cute PDF writer:

http://www.cutepdf.com/

Let’s me print anything (even a web page) right to a PDF file. Simple. This prevents me from going “TO” paper when my goal is to be paperless. Whenever I buy something online I print the receipt to a PDF and save it in a folder in Drop Box (see below) so I can access it any time. I also give detailed names on the files to make them easy to find. So a Godaddy receipt for a domain name might get a file name like “Godaddy 2011-03-25 nerdenterprises.com $7.99.PDF” and YES you can name a file like that with periods in the middle. Trust me, I do it almost daily. This is an easy free app that will keep you paperless at times when you might otherwise be inclined to hit that tree killing print button 🙂

Are you one of those people that likes to print e-mails? Personally I never understood that. It’s like driving in the wrong direction on the information superhighway. With Cute PDF writer you can print your E-mails to a PDF and then you can e-mail them. Or something. NEXT!

Drop Box:

Sync your files online and across computers with Dropbox. 2GB account is free!

Drop box is the next app I have for you in my guide to going paperless. I store all of my documents in Drop Box. This allows me to work in a local folder on my computer and also have access my files from anywhere because the files sync to my drop box account on the web. I can install the drop box app on any computer, sign into my account and the folders and files all sync up. There is even an app for all of your smart phones so that you can literally access your documents from your phone. This has really come in handy for me when I need to access my password file! I can also share the folders with my staff and clients which makes it easy to collaborate on projects and even QuickBooks Files!

Evernote:

www.evernote.com

Evernote is an amazing program and it has literally changed my life. When I get on the phone I open a note page and start taking notes. My Voice mail system is called IfByPhone (www.ifbyphone.com) and long story short it e-mails my voice mails to me in an MP3 file. I download the file from the e-mail attachment, drag it onto a note, listen to it, make notes and then tag it with “Voice Mail”. Then it either stays in a notebook called “Voice Mails and Other Calls” or it goes to the appropriate client notebook. So even my voice mail messages don’t get written down – truly paperless. With a paid ($45 annual) account you can embed any file type and PDFs are completely readable within the note. What’s great is there is no limit to how much data you can have. There is a limit to how much you can upload in a single month. I have not even come close to that limit.

So why use Drop box if Evernote does it all and also syncs to the web and also has apps for all of your smart phones? Evernote is an amazing product but it is not practical as a “File Storage” service. That’s what Drop box is for. Drop box lets you organize folders locally on your computer as it’s own “My Documents” folder. You can easily copy and paste files open, save, delete etc.. Evernote is where I keep certain key files that I want quick access to. Then you can use “Shoeboxed” (see below) to integrate with Evernote by having all of your receipts scanned and exported into your notebooks. Then you can tag and file them digitally. This is when paperless becomes powerful.

Shoeboxed:

Shoeboxed.com - Scan Receipts and Business Cards

To me shoeboxed.com is the final frontier in going paperless! Got receipts? Documents? Business Cards? I send it all into Shoeboxed.com now. They do the scanning for me. Then it provides a really nice export to Evernote where I can easily tag and store the receipts in a place that makes it ridiculously easy to find! Are you a data junkie like me? Great! Export all of the information to a CSV file and have at it. In seconds you can be creating pivot tables to quickly summarize and organize the information. What’s great about this is that you can create subsidiary accounts so you can manage your clients’ receipts within your own account. So you let them send you their receipts (or they can send directly using a folder you provide). Then you can download them and manage them. My video shows you there are many ways you can access and manage the data