Evernote – First Step to a Paperless Home (Part 1)

I am on a quest to have a paperless house.  Well, not actually paperless – more like paper-less as in having less paper.  My mind gets overwhelmed with clutter and the paper clutter has been a battle for years. I’m about three months into the process and am finding the effort rewarding.

There have been a few key items that have helped me be successful.  In Part 1 today I will talk about what  has been critical:  Evernote.  I wrote about it a little over a year ago when I began to use it for my recipes. Which, I still LOVE and use almost every day.

There are other options, like Onenote or just using your hard drive.  The reason Evernote is a clear winner for me is the powerful search engine.  If You are interested in giving it a try, you can sign up for a free account HERE  When you sign up through this link we will both get a month of premium free.  The free account is fully functional with 60 mg of upload.   That has worked fine for me for the last year.  The premium account is $5 a month or $45 a year. I have found the 4 GB of upload necessary – at least for now while I’m scanning in all my papers. There are some other benefits to the premium account, you can check out the differences between the free version and the paid versions HERE.

A good scanner is also critical to being successful in going paperless.  I have the Fujitsu Scansnap ix500 and I’ve also heard good things about the Doxie Go.  I’ll talk more about scanners in a future Part 2 post.

They say a good shredder is the third thing imperative to a paperless home. I’ll admit, the thought of shredding all my papers put fear into me. I chickened out and got a big cardboard box and have been putting all the papers in there for the last couple of months.  At this point – I’ve not had to retrieve one paper.  So, obviously a shredder going to become a priority for me in the near future.

The process has been fun, but maybe ,because I’m a bit geeky.  It feels so productive to watch the document pop up on your screen. The satisfaction of knowing I can now find it again whenever I need it is rewarding.

I have set up Evernote with a few carefully chosen categories and lots of tags.  You can tag a document to more than one tag- which means it’s easier to find when you need it.  The search engine is where Evernote shines, and often I just type a keyword in the search box and my document pops right up.

You will want to play around with categories until you find what works best for you.  I’ll share mine to get your creative juices flowing.


@inbox (this is where I send everything to originally)

Filing Cabinet (with subcategories of Finances, Homeschool, This and That, and Health




That’s all.  Everything falls into one of those categories.

Tags can also be broken into subcategories.

Food – with 20 subcategories (desserts, crockpot, mom’s recipes – anything I want to easily search)

Journals (subcategories for all my journals like sermons, musings, prayer…)

Health (subcategories for each family member)

Home (subcategories Assets, Bank, Bills, Credit Cards, Family)

Under each subcategory for Home tag there are additional subcategories (Bills – Electric, Water, Gas…)


Any Tags that are actionable I’ve put in Shortcuts so I am reminded to keep an eye on them.  (To DO, Hubby To Do, Waiting, Deals)

Here’s my workflow:

1. Goal: email inbox is kept at zero. Evernote has an individual email assigned to each account. I email anything I need to remember or want a record of to my inbox.

2. I scan everything to my inbox that comes in the mailbox or into our home in a paper format.

3. Tag and categorize my inbox (I love the simple categories – not much thinking required) Tag it with a To Do for me or Husband and also Tag it as if I’ve filed it (Discover bill would get tagged “Discover” and “To Do Husband”

4. Once Husband has paid the Discover bill he deletes the tag “To Do Husband” and now the bill is nicely filed in Category: Finances, Tag: Discover.

5. Set reminder for anything time sensitive.  I use a separate app for a to-do list. I tried to use Evernote as a to-do list, but it was clunky for me.  Some people have had success with it.  For me, setting a reminder in Evernote and then putting a short description Reminders on my iPad with EN at the end triggers me to look in Evernote for the details about the task.

The benefits have been better than I had hoped for. Instead of having to hunt down a paper in the filing cabinet at best, or in stacks of papers at worst – we can put our fingers on a paper in a matter of seconds no matter where we are.  I do recommend two-step verification for security purposes, set up was quick and easy.  This tutorial will walk you through it.

Have you thought about going paperless? What has worked or not worked for you?  Leave me a comment below.

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  1. Pingback: Steps to a Paperless Home (Part 3) « A Day at the Beach

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