“If your life seems a mess, it is because it is a reflection of your thoughts.” – Doreen Virtue
Right now, one of my goals is to organize my Evernote account, and other file folders on the computer that are not in their final home. Several years ago, I started digitizing almost all of the paper in my life. It was a very long process.
Just deciding what to keep and what to throw away can be paralyzing at first. Once I started trusting myself and my ability to decide more, it still took a very long time scanning in page after page after page of what I decided to keep. I have spent many hours with the scanner set up on the bed, scanning in anything I felt the need to keep, while watching a movie. I guess maybe it was actually kind of fun now that I think back on it!
Once I got the backlog of papers scanned, the next phase of my digitization process was to put any incoming paper directly into the system, rather than hoarding it in piles for a later cleaning event. It also took a really long time to develop this habit, but today I get the mail and either trash, shred, or scan – no more piles of paper!
Now that I have cleared out the clutter from my physical space for the most part, I now have digital clutter to deal with. I am not complaining, because this clutter is much less in my face than the piles of paper were, but it is still something I would like to improve. In all of my excitement to go digital, I didn’t really pay much attention to the system I was using to save the documents I was scanning.
I have turned to many different productivity and organizing books for guidance on getting my life together. Both types of books provide plenty of advice on how to organize files. I used to (ok, I probably still do) obsess over the organizing system I was trying to create. For a long time, I was a major over-categorizer. What can I say? Categorizing things is fun! But it is not so much fun to invest hours and hours of time only to realize that the new system is overcomplicated to the point of being impractical. That is when it goes from fun to overwhelming.
One of the beauties of Evernote is that you can keyword search all of your documents. Technically, I don’t really have to even organize my Evernote account because this function is pretty reliable. But what would be the fun in that?
From the reading I have done on organizing files, I do agree with the concept of having fewer major categories. The range of 7 to 10 sticks out in my mind as a maximum number of major categories. The idea behind putting a limit is so there are fewer places to look when it is time to retrieve something. Although a major benefit of using Evernote is the ability to keyword search all of your files at one time, I still like to have a sense of where things are. I have heard that there are people who don’t use notebooks in Evernote at all, and just rely 100% on the keyword search function. This would make me way too nervous, and I like the ability to create custom lists, such as a shopping list, to-do list (which I now call reminders), gift lists, etc.
Evernote now has the function of stacking notebooks. A notebook in Evernote is a titled collection of notes. For example, you might call a notebook “Taxes” and then each note in that notebook could contain a separate tax return for the previous 7 years. Or, you might call a notebook “Taxes – 2013”, and each note within that notebook could be an individual document from 2013 that you are saving for when it comes time to be relevant, such as a donation receipt or other statement. Finally, now with notebook stacks, you could have a notebook stack simply called “Taxes” and then within that stack each notebook could be titled “Taxes – YEAR” and then everything from that year is in one place. You can also expand or collapse notebook stacks in view, so the “Taxes” stack is the only thing you would have to look at when scrolling through notebooks. I personally would rather not dedicate an entire notebook stack to taxes though since they are not a major organization category in my opinion, however, I might end up with a notebook stack dedicated to finances, which will have sub notebooks for taxes.
I have not yet decided what my categories will be for my Evernote revamp. I do know that my Hipster notebook stack is here to say. This is where I have all of my previously mentioned custom lists. Even this category has become cluttered over time, so I am excited to give it an overhaul and simplify more. I am looking forward to reporting my progress on my digital file organizing project. Namaste.
Photo Credit: Robert Benner Sr. via Compfight cc