Going Paperless With Evernote Business

Oxford University

20th Oct | Exhibition Advice

I imagine, that many small business owners feel at some point, that the amount of files, folders, papers and notes everywhere means that you are constantly running out of wall space and storage space!

Doing a quick count up, I had:

36 Lever Arch Files Full  (6 empty!), Notebooks, Pads of Paper in drawers and cupboards in the office as well as delivery notes and random scribbles on paper in the workshop.

I was just totally overwhelmed and over-run with paper and it was only going to get worse the busier we got.

To be honest, I have seen and had recommended to me Evernote many times by different businesses.

The thought of having to scan all of that paper in though, just put me off entirely.

Until I saw the ScanSnap iX500 machine, and I fully understood how Evernote works.

Basically, Evernote is based on a searchable database. As PDFs or pieces of handwritten paper are scanned in, they are ‘read’ and you can file them where you want to.

I did some research on how other people sorted their evernote account and I decided to have the following, simple and very few, notebooks. A notebook is where all of your ‘notes’ are stored.

Evernote encourages you to change your thinking on filing – for example we currently put ‘paper’ into a ‘folder’ which is given a ‘name’ and ‘filed away’

Everything on Evernote is classed as a ‘note’ and it goes inside a ‘notebook’. You can add ‘tags’ to the description although I must say with the ability for it to search within document text, I don’t tag my documents.

My Notebooks are:  Accounting; Course Notes; Office; Workshop; Health and Safety; HR; Internet Marketing; Personal and Travel.

These titles I feel will cover every single piece of paper that is in this office!

I also have the app on my iPad and on my iPhone which has come in very handy whilst out of the office (more on that later!)

Getting Started

I got the ScanSnap iX500 Scanner from Amazon – although it’s quite pricey for a scanner, the rate at which it scans will save so much time compared to a flatbed scanner that I deemed the investment totally appropriate for the task.

I then had to remove all of the staples from all of the files, you know the ones where debit card receipts get stapled to invoices…! So Kirsten and I got a staple remover and just used pritt stick to glue the receipts to the invoices. Our invoicing system is done in numerical order so we started at purchase invoice 1 (1p) and made our way up into the three thousands…

We fitted this in around our normal work we didn’t stop what we were doing to just remove staples. Every 50 sheets we would then scan them in and shred them once they had been stored.

As it’s a cloud storage program with backup, we were confident that we could shred the information.

Just to check it was working, I typed in the name of one of the invoices, and the text recognition brought it up for me right away. It even read the handwriting, as we hand-write on the invoice number.

Scanning Marathon

Then starts the scanning marathon! It’s something that will be time consuming in the beginning but after it’s all on the system it’s plain sailing.

You can do it in between tasks, if you scan in 50 sheets the scanner takes around 90 seconds but then the processing part takes around 9 minutes, for the text recognition and to upload. So in that time you can do other tasks and come back to it.

We scanned in 12 folders in one week and that translated to over 20 binbags of shredded paper!

The more we shredded and the more files I gave away to my friend, the better I felt. No more files clogging up my life.

The scanner has lots of different options and some of the most useful I have found are:

  • Scan in 50 sheets but create a seperate document for each
  • Scan in 50 sheets which are all part of the same document
  • Scan single sided
  • Scan double sided
  • Scan double sided but blank sides, remove from the document

All very clever stuff and definately a move towards computers thinking like humans!

Going forward

I bought one, new, GOLDEN, lever arch file. I explained to everyone that we may keep one folder on the premises!  (As some papers, you do need to keep like the ownership of the vehicles and so on)

In terms of post-it notes, there are apps you can download to have a post it on your desktop. For windows it’s the program ‘Stickynotes’ and for apple there are many.

Business Cards are great to keep on evernote as you can go to an event, and give the cards the same tag. For example ‘BNI Networking October’ could be the name of your note, and all of your business cards scanned in there.

They are also text searchable, so if you were looking for ‘that accountant you met’ you can search the term accountant and every note with that in, will be shown to you.

It’s Like Your Second Brain

I can personally vouch for the fact that it really is, like having a second brain. You just don’t need to remember things any more!

For example I went shopping at the weekend for work trousers. I find it really difficult to find a pair of trousers that I like and that fit well. Once I did find them, I took a picture of the label which includes the order code and called the note (the picture on my iPhone I uploaded to it)  ‘WORK TROUSERS’

Next time I need to buy work trousers, I will just type that into evernote and re-order.

I did the same with my shoes. Next time I want to shop for work uniform it no longer takes me an entire saturday afternoon but just a few clicks onto evernote and an online re-order.

My notebooks – I’m forever jotting down ideas here there and everywhere!

There’s an annotate function where you can tick, highlight and write on notes you input. You can even put a to-do check box beside hand written notes.

So I scanned in all of my ‘bright ideas’ and put check boxes next to the ones I want to achieve. This then pops up in a list.

If you want to run a paperless office, it is entirely possible. It takes a few weeks to get everything scanned in (there’s always the option of an office temp if you don’t want to do the work yourself)

What I Love Most Is

IDEAS Capture! I have loved it when I’ve been shopping, seen something and think … perhaps we could introduce that into our business…

Or when I’ve been reading a book, and I get an idea, I just pop it in my ‘ideas’ note.

Then when I come into work, I have a whole list full of ideas ready to action.

I already operate a 90 minute system where for the first 90 minutes of the day, we spend time action-ning ideas rather than ‘working’. This is very helpful in making a business grow forward but first you need to capture those ideas.


Next it’s the accounting. When you’re looking for a receipt, you just type in the name! No more hunting for ages for receipts as they’re scanned in. No complicated file entry systems.


The Post! How often do we throw away our post and wish months later we had the letter or offer still? Well now I just scan in all post into a personal ‘post’ notebook. Again always searchable. Even marketing letters for 49% APR credit cards. Scanned in, I might want to get some ideas from them in my marketing one day! All post is scanned in then I never lose anything.

Insurance! If/when you need to return something for repair or replacement the receipts for it are easily found. They can be printed if you need to take them into stores but can be searched for, on the app. So if you scan everything in, you should never have to look for a receipt again.

How Much Is It

The Evernote software is £8 per user, per month.

We will save hugely on paper as PDF document invoices can be uploaded automatically to Evernote rather than being printed and filed for accounts. We will also save on ink and file folders.

Then there’s the time. Well, how we value our time is different person to person, but for us, the amount of time we spend searching through folders when we have bespoke jobs is immense. Particularly for components, parts and advice.  Thanks to this wonderful system, we are no longer searching.

It comes very highly recommended if anyone is feeling under a paper mound and ready to have their life made easier.

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