Love is a Warm Scanner

scansnap-510mI have too much paper. Between various old documents, bills, statements, and magazines there’s reams of paper cluttering up my life. While I’ve been shifting as much as possible to paperless solutions where possible, the paper still accumulates.

That’s why I love my Fujitsu ScanSnap. It’s a little scanner that tames the paper piles. While I’m using the previous generation I can recommend it whole heartedly. The ScanSnap scans 18 full-color double-sided pages a minute; it’s currently whirring away storing a magazine I want to hang on to. The beauty of the device, is that I no longer have to weight the utility of a piece of paper versus the space it takes up. It all just gets scanned and recycled.

The newer models have a feature that I envy, they run optical character recognition (OCR) on the documents as they scan them. The result is a virtual version of your documents that are also searchable. The older model I have just scans, so I can read or print the works, but they aren’t indexed and searchable by my computer. The new versions have the best of both worlds.

I only have two complaints. First, the ScanSnap isn’t really good at scanning receipts (if they’ve fixed this, let me know because I’d buy a new one immediately). Second, Fujitsu markets the scanners separately for Windows and the Mac, so I can’t just use one for both platforms, but then again, I don’t use Windows much…

Let me know if you have a solution for tackling clutter (especially paper) that might improve my life (or at least my home office).

starting Getting Things Done

Recently I’ve seen a lot of posts about “Getting Things Done”, by David Allen. Designed as a program for increasing productivity (mostly for business professionals), that many geeks seem to be turning on to. I’ve been feeling stretched increasingly thin with commitments at home, grad school, and with friends and colleagues, so anything that makes it easier to get things acoomplished would be wonderful. After seeing four or five different technical people mention the book (at Slashdot and O’Reilley among other places), and since I’ve felt like my commitments were getting out of control, I decided it would be worth a read.

So far I’ve only read a couple of chapters, but I decided to start implementing some of the techniques mentioned so far. The net result is that I’m feeling more relaxed, and that my commitments are being better tracked. Only time will tell if I get more from the book and I become more productive as a result. The tactics in the book seem to be well thought out, and pretty simple to put into use, but I’ve only really started using the project/next-action lists so far.

I’ve decided to use OmniOutliner3 for tracking my “projects”, multi-step tasks that I need to finish, since I’ve always found outliners to be a good way for me to work, and I only had to upgrade an existing license that came with my computer. If people are interested, drop me a comment, and I’ll elaborate on how I’m using OmniOutliner within the structure of “Getting Things Done”, since it differs somewhat from what other people seem to be doing.