In today’s world, physical documents have become very common, accumulating for various purposes. However, it is essential to recognize the advantages of digitizing these documents. From improved reference and preservation to easy access and searchability, the benefits to digitized documents are undeniable. Let’s explore a process of digitizing physical documents and how it can revolutionize the way we manage information.
Where to Begin
The first step in the digitization process is to gather all your physical documents into a centralized location, such as a cupboard or room. If you already maintain a filing system for organizing important documents in a specific box or shelf, that’s a great starting point. However, if you haven’t established such a system, don’t worry - it’s not too late to begin!
To ensure seamless access to your digitized files, I recommend saving them in the cloud. Cloud storage providers, such as iCloud, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, and IceDrive, are secure and reliable services. Choose a provider that suits your needs and preferences. For most individuals, Google Drive is a popular and functional choice, providing 15 GB of free storage per account.
Next, equip yourself with a reliable scanner app. Adobe Scan and Microsoft Lens are two reputable third-party options, while Apple and Android devices both offer built-in scanning capabilities. In iOS, the Files app allows scanning with a limit of 25 pages per scan, while Android users can utilize the pre-installed Google Drive app for direct scanning to the cloud. iOS can also use the Google Drive app’s scanning functionality.
With all your documents gathered in one place, set aside a few hours to sort through them. Begin by identifying the most important documents, such as health records, leases, and tax information. Separate these vital files from the rest, following the guidelines in one of my previous blog posts Overhaul Personal Cloud Storage. Once you have established this initial selection, plan to digitize 10-20 files per day.
To effectively organize your important files, consider using the divisions outlined in Overhaul Personal Cloud Storage. Take a couple of days to scan all your significant files and upload them to your cloud storage provider of choice. Keep their physical counterparts in a designated location and store them in a labeled box.
As you go through the remaining general-purpose files, assess their importance. Determine if they are documents you may need/want to refer to in the future. If they are indeed significant, scan and name them appropriately. A good naming scheme could include relevant details, such as the document’s subject, location, and year. For instance, the following provides valuable information about the document’s contents.
For all the general-purpose files deemed important, create a couple of folders (on the cloud) to store them, perhaps categorized by years. I recommend discarding any physical files that hold no significance. If you have sufficient physical storage space, consider keeping the physical copies of these useless documents in a separate box to avoid confusion.
Receipts, in general, are not of utmost importance. In today’s digital era, most services provide online platforms and apps (such as Amazon) that generate PDF receipts on demand. Evaluate your receipt-type files based on their accessibility through online services. If they are easily accessible, there’s no need to digitize them.
Digitizing physical documents offers tremendous advantages and simplifies our daily lives. Need to email a document to someone? It’s just a quick search away in your digital archive. Moreover, searching for specific information becomes effortless through keywords instead of sifting through physical files for hours. Advanced features offered by certain services, like Apple’s Files app, even allow indexing text within the documents, making searching and retrieving information a breeze. The convenience of digitization extends beyond typed documents - handwritten notes can also be parsed and included in your digital library. Additionally, digitization ensures the preservation of important information and reduces clutter to free up physical space.
So, go forth and embrace the power of digitalization and unlock a world of convenience, efficiency, and peace of mind.