Step 15 to GTD Mastery is: I have a paper file system which is fun and fast to use, perhaps using an automatic labeler.
A couple of months ago, I put out a call for help to our readers for the creation of my paper file system. Many of the responses advocated a paperless system. After weighing my options, I chose the Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 scanner (Mac version here). The S300, a lower-end model is also available (comparison chart here). The factors that swayed my decision were the inclusion of Acrobat Standard and the carrier sheet support which helps with the scanning of my odd-shaped newspaper/magazine clippings. The S510 also scans over twice as fast and you can feed it 50 pages compared to 10 pages with the S300. This lets me use the S510 as my inbox.
Upon opening, I couldn’t believe how small the S510 was. Its footprint is less than a standard piece of letter-size paper.
Step-by-step instructions are provided in the manual and are easy to understand. The first step was to install the ScanSnap’s drivers and software and Acrobat (Windows 2000, XP, and Vista compatible). Everything went smoothly and, despite the software spanning 3 CDs, I only had to restart the computer once. The ScanSnap itself connects via USB and is run off of DC power.
I tested out the ScanSnap with a pamphlet I received from school. You can take a look at the resulting PDF here.
At this point in the review, I should be writing about how great a product the ScanSnap is and how it has simplified and revolutionzed my paper workflow. However, I’m going to outsource this part of my life, Tim Ferriss style. Ryan Norbauer over at 43 Folders shares my love for the ScanSnap.
Here’s the premise: the SnanSnap is the first consumer scanner (that I’ve used anyway) to truly be about information storage. It’s not for ultra high-resolution photo scanning; it’s all about documents and speed. Firstly, you initiate scans by piling your documents into the stacker and simply pressing the one big button on the face of the device. It then rapidly (and I mean damn fast) gobbles up your papers and spits them out at the bottom. Fujitsu says up to 36 pages/minute in duplex mode, and that sounds about right. The resulting digital document gets dumped right onto your hard drive in searchable PDF format, which every OS seems to understand natively these days. It automatically corrects for mis-aligned papers, auto-detects whether the document is color or monochrome, scans in duplex if it detects a back side to the page being scanned, and detects the size of the paper being scanned and intelligently crops the digital version to the right size. You can mix and match document types liberally and it stitches them all together into one PDF with each page automatically adjusted to its own parameters. I love that there is just one operative button: you just tell it to go to town, and it gets out of your way and makes smart guesses based on what you give it.
I pulled out an old magazine clipping to test out the carrier sheet. Needless to say the ScanSnap came through again. You can find the resulting PDF here.
You can also scan any business cards you may receive.
The ScanSnap includes the CardMinder software for managing your business cards. Unfortunately, it only supports the reading of the contact’s name, company name, one phone number, email address. In the future, I hope that it will support address info, multiple phone numbers, and website. You can export the card info to Outlook or Outlook Express. If you use a different email client, CardMinder also allows you to export the info to a CSV file. I use Gmail and it supports the importing of CSV files.
Gmail correctly identifies the “name” and “email” fields from CardMinder’s CSV. However, the “phone” and “company” are placed in the contact’s notes under “more information.”
Being a student with a budget, I had my reservations about the ScanSnap’s price tag. However, in the long run, the ScanSnap will be cheaper than filing cabinets, file folders, a labeler, and labeller refills. I purchased mine from ATS Systems here in Canada with free shipping on orders over $99. There’s also a $50 rebate on all S510s purchased from January 1 to March 31. You can download the rebate here. The total cost of my ScanSnap came to $450 CAD. Amazon and eBay are currently selling them for ~$400 US (plus shipping). If you’re on a tighter budget, the S300 is listed for $260 CAD at ATS Systems. If you don’t need the carrier sheet and don’t mind slightly slower scan times, I would save your money and buy the S300. If space is a concern, the S300 is half the depth of the S510.