My personal paperwork setup

tl;dr I build myself a convenient and effectice setup to organize paperwork at home.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic I reviewed my personal setup to organize paperwork at home. It is a combination hard- and software with allows me handle this rather boring task in a convenient and effectice way.

Since I shared my notes with some colleagues and friends already, I decided to make the repository available to the public today. Maybe some other people working in home office as well can use this to eliminate clutter from the desk.


Get organized

Scanning a huge pile of documents takes time. It takes much longer if the documents are random. Collect and sort bills, contracts and letters into drawers or cardboard slipcases.

Reconsider which documents need to be scanned and which may be replaced with a new item in your todo list or a notepad. No need to scan business cards, add a link to the person on your favourite business work or your phone instead.

If possible try to scan most incomming documents instantly.

Use the right hardware

Most phones have great scanning apps nowdays. I use ScanBot for instant scans, since they are very fast. However, these apps are not suitable for important documents like contracts.

The quality of all desktop scanners is very good today. Most important is speed. A scanner which takes a minute to scan a page will make you not use it anymore in the same minute.

Another important hardware is the right storage. One or more disks, a cloud storage or a NAS. The storage needs to be immediately available (just like a physical folder) and yet secure (access management and backup). This makes a NAS a good solution for private households.

Automate everything

Don't use a software with requires manual work. Every additional click will tempt you pause. Use presets whenever available.

Ubuntu has great Scanner App by default. A popular commandline tool is scanimage.

Synchronize files to the target storage asap. Most NAS offers special apps for this task. Nextcloud has multiple apps to synchronize files to your own cloud storage.

Make files searchable

Use universal file formats. Write bash scripts to apply OCR automatically.

Name files automatically, for example by current date and context. Some scripts are able to read the document content and use it for renaming patterns.

Keep a consistent naming structure.

Consider using a document management system. A neat, cross platform file manager based on tags is Tagspaces.

💡 I wrote myself a script to scan, rename, convert to PDF and apply OCR.

Throw away

Keep a copy of very important physical documents like contracts. Thow away everything else. 🗑

⌛ Warning! This post is old. The information may be outdated.

No comments on this notepad. If you would like to add something, then dont hesitate to contact me via E-Mail or Twitter.