The Evolution of Paperless

Here “she” sits, in all of her glory:


My new Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i!

I’ve been lusting after the “paperless” achievement badge for quite some time. It has eluded me for several reasons:

  • the horrendous cost of appropriate scanning devices
  • the daunting task of required signatures on documents (that are then scanned and emailed back to someone, only to generate a piece of paper that requires shredding or otherwise ridding self of)
  • the complete dearth of appropriate platforms for syncing, searching, and otherwise storing (the three S’s of an efficient lifestyle) the scanned documents (if you were able to overcome the first two obstacles).

It is my pleasure to present…the solution to ALL THE THINGS!

Okay, turns out there are actually many solutions out there now. As a little background on me, I am just starting an intensive, rigorous, two-year masters program in health sciences (which also explains the blog posts trickling in at glacial pace). I have noticed, already, the massive amount of paper that is generated by such an endeavor, and the intense desire to revert to study techniques that are tried and true (but generate more paper), like this:


And that, my friends, is just special senses, or one tiny section of one chapter. Besides the enormous demands on paper products, this process leaves a dent in my writing finger that is pretty epic.

I’ve put a lot of thought into how to approach a program like this in as paperless a manner as possible, and by default, my research wandered into an exploration of how to ditch the file boxes and become paperless totally. Now, in today’s world, the fight to end junk mail or go “paperless” with corporations is a full-time job. So it’s important that you understand that I *still* generate paper, despite my best efforts, but I am greatly reduced and on a mission to continue to winnow it down.

Below follows a list of the services (software) that I’m using, links to them (if appropriate) and cost of usage (in a cute little table…I like tables. Tables appeal to my innate organizational skill and love of neatly streamlined environments, which lives in direct opposition to my “Evil Brain” who likes to be a slob):


And now for a little breakdown…


This is my new favorite program, because it syncs to all my devices (computer, iPhone, iPad), which means I always have access to my documents. I pay for Premium, which allows me more storage space and more downloads per month. It also syncs to Skitch, which is my go-to for little organizational charts and annotation of complex medical images and documents.


Found on your friendly, neighborhood AppStore (or the Evernote website), this little gem is a simple, but effective set of tools for annotation of anything from JPG to PDF. I like it, too, because it supports e-signatures, which prevents me from having to download a document, sign it, scan it, and send it back.

Here’s a sample chart that I made:


Simple. Clean. Efficient. And it saves my writing hand. Skitch is also neat because it has expandable borders on the things you create, so if you need more space in your document, you just extend beyond the edges of the document, and Skitch automatically makes it bigger. Plus, it can sync automatically to Evernote, or you can manually drag and drop to a Stack of your choosing.


Quizlet handles my deep desire for flashcards. You can create sets in various languages, and if you pay for the Plus service, you can create image flashcards and even record your voice (if you’re a language student or an auditory learner). I chose Quizlet because I like the “learn” feature that makes you type the answers to your flashcards, rather than just passively observing.

Here’s an example of what a flashcard looks like:


And the “learn” screen:


And last (but CERTAINLY not least), Notability. Notability effortlessly allows you sketch notes, annotate using a stylus or your good old-fashioned finger, annotate PDFs, and view and store images, etc. It also syncs seamlessly to Google Drive and Evernote. I’m still exploring this one, so you better believe there will be some glowing updated reviews on it, but for now, it’s just garden variety awesome.

And that concludes this blog post! Just an introduction, because it’s all very new to me! Would love to hear your comments, suggestions, feedback.


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