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Digitising your documents - a quick start guide

Digitisation is the process of turning paper documents into digital files - and one of the best way to organize your home or home office!

To reduce clutter, make your files safer and more accessible, and help you gear up for a future that will be characterised by ‘less paper’ rather than ‘paperless’ ways of working, here are our top digitisation tips.

Getting started

  • Purge your paper – before starting your digitisation journey, save time and effort by purging your records of redundant, outdated or unnecessary paper. Be ruthless: will you ever really need that expenses claim from 1993? 
  • Opt for less paper – opting for digital documents from banks and other service providers will limit the arrival of new paper for scanning and filing. Ask your suppliers to email invoices and other work documents rather than putting them in the post. 
  • Plan for digital – format isn’t the only difference between digital and paper filing – structuring often needs to change. Consider how you have been filing your paper documents and think about how digitizing your documents could improve this. For example, you may currently have paper files boxed by year, but digitally prefer them to be organised by client. 

Organising and managing your digital filing system

  • Structure your subfolders – taking time to map out your new digital filing system will save you moving items around further into the digitisation process. Organise your files with consistent names, setting up sub-folders with tags or keywords. You may decide that it’s more appropriate to break them down by month i.e. Invoices>2019>May – or you may decide to create sub-folders around your line of work i.e. Client> Project >Invoices.
  • Backup is essential – leveraging digitalisation via cloud storage enables you to access your files anywhere without the risk of loss associated with paper documents or physical backup.
  • Archive for clarity – having cluttered digital files can be just as frustrating as having paper files spilling off your shelves. If projects or documents are no longer needed, drop entire folders including subfolders into an archive. This way they remain accessible but out of the way. 
a black and white image of two stacks of paper filling up both sides of the image

Turn digitisation into a routine

  • Automatic action – scan every important piece of paper as you go. Develop this into a new habit by continually digitising and reinforcing the habit. 
  • Scan and recycle – once you have scanned physical documents, throw them away unless absolutely vital. Recycling them declutters your home office space and is better for the planet.
  • Review and renew your approach – if the paper starts to pile up again, take the time to audit your process. Assess why items can’t be scanned or recycled right away to fine-tune your filing system.

Practical scanning considerations

  • Scanner buying basics – two-sided scanning is essential for digitisation of boxed files and 300dpi tends to provide enough detail for home office scanning unless detailed slides or photos are common. If you have a backlog to clear, an automatic sheet feeder will process an entire stack of pages unattended. 
  • Consider mobility and storage – scanners come in all sizes and formats. Some such as Brother’s latest MDS models are designed to be taken on the move, making them ideal for field workers. Others are designed to be stored neatly in drawers keeping the home office decluttered. If that’s the priority, Brother’s ADS-2200 and ADS-2700W scanner models punch above their weight in functionality.
  • Seek out OCR – when digitising, optical character recognition (OCR) software makes printed words editable. This means you can immediately locate files at a later date by searching your system for their contents. 

As environmental considerations collide with possibilities of digitalisation, converting hard copy files into digital formats will become increasingly important.Inspired to clear the piled-up paper? Why not make a start today?

For more information, visit Brother's scanning solutions.

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