Stumbling Towards the Paperless Home

We're not sure our title is entirely accurate, but one thing is clear: there's a heck of a lot less paper around since we made a few strategic changes.

The key change was a rather indulgent purchase: the $450 Fujistu ScanSnap S510 scanner. It scans both sides of a sheet of paper at once, converts it to PDF, then does OCR so you can search the text. It's brilliant technology, especially for those of us who toil in academia. But we're thinking anyone who has more than a little paper here and there at home might benefit.

Newspaper clipping with blog potential? Through the scanner. Receipt for something that might break two years from now just before the warranty runs out? Through the scanner. Enormous stack of old tax returns? You get the idea. Together with a Mac program called DevonThink Pro, it's been relatively simple to file all this stuff away in weightless digital format.

So far, we've emptied two enormous drawers of file cabinets, and it's nice to have the space back. But what's harder to communicate is the feeling. Those mountains of paper, begging to be sorted, somehow oriented us towards the past. These empty drawers and empty space? Somehow, we feel free to be creative.

As commenters pointed out when we thinking about the scanner, we have not--and will not--be able to get rid of all the paper. But the figure of 90% seems about right.