Ready to Go Paperless? 6 Essential Steps to Get Started Today

PRODUCT REVIEW  |  TIDYGUIDE To GOING PAPERLESS, PART 1

Part 1 of our TidyGuide to Going Paperless, our duplex scanner review, is the best place to start your journey to a paperless life.

Despite the proliferation of online media, paperless billing, and eCommerce, we still find ourselves getting a lot of physical mail, “important” documents no less. And if you’re like many of our friends and readers, you’ve noticed that these “important” documents add up and take up space. The really add up and take up a lot of space. If you are ready for a change, we wrote this duplex scanner review for you. We’ve been living a paper-free life for 7 years, and we’ve never had second thoughts. (By the way, we’re still using the same Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 we started with back in 2010!)

Our TidyGuide to Going Paperless, beginning with this article, provides a road map to the six essential steps to going paperless:

  1. Invest in a great scanner: A high-quality, fast, sufficient capacity, double-sided scanner will make scanning a breeze.  Consequently, you will also find it much easier to stay compliant with your plan to live paper-free. This duplex scanner review covers what you need to know here.
  2. Set yourself up with the right software: Depending on what kind of computer you use and how organized your digital folders are, you may not need any new software at all.
  3. Define a scanning routine and stick to it: Defining a process that you can follow with the right frequency and minimal time investment is key to it becoming a routine. You: 1 — Paper: 0.
  4. Buy a durable, good capacity shredder: Everything that arrives in your mailbox will eventually go out in your recycling… Preferably without all of your personal information and account details along with it.
  5. Ensure you have a good digital backups system: Once your information is digital, digital backups are a must. We will review some of the best software packages and secure cloud/online backup options.
  6. Make life easy on yourself: For example, ensure that you’ve enrolled in all available paperless billing options you have. We will cover all the best tips here in our 6th and final post in this series.

This article covers steps #1, and we’ll publish the others soon. Follow our Facebook page to get a heads up when they do. 

Here is our review of the leading duplex scanners for home and personal use:

Note: To arrive at the following recommendations, we evaluated over 45 current scanner models. For more information on our methodology and the factors we considered in our assessment, see the Notes on Our Approach section at the end of this review.

Scanner #1 (Best of 2017): Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500

duplex scanner review Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500
Speed Up to 25 pages per minute (ppm) at 300 dots per inch (dpi, medium resolution for documents)
Capacity Up to 50-sheet auto document feeder (ADF) | Handles legal, letter, A4, A5, A6 and smaller
Durability Very durable manufacture. We’ve used the prior model weekly for 7 years and still love it. 
Ease of use Very easy to set up and use, and simple one-button scanning operation
Other factors n/a Helpful set of packaged software with variety of options (scan to file, cloud, editable PDF, etc.) 
Price $ $ $ $412 on Amazon (as of October 2017). We think it’s worth every penny.
More details: Full Specs | Datasheet
Purchase at: Amazon 
 

Bottom Line: This is a great, capable multipurpose scanner that will accelerate your journey to paperless living.


Scanner #2: Epson WorkForce ES-400

duplex scanner review Epson WorkForce ES-400
Speed Up to 35 ppm @ 300 dpi (medium resolution sufficient for documents)
Capacity Up to 50-sheet ADF | Max size: 8.5″ x 240″ | Min size: 2″ x 2″
Durability Daily duty cycle of 4,000 pages per day
Ease of use Some have reported challenges in getting the packaged software up and running.
Other factors n/a Scan to options include to file/folder, cloud, email, etc.
Price $ $ $ $350 on Amazon (as of October 2017)
 
More details: Full Specs
Purchase at: Amazon
 
Bottom Line: This is our second-favorite all around scanner with a really great set of features and capabilities. 

Scanner #3 (Lower-price option): Brother ImageCenter ADS-2000e

duplex scanner review Brother ImageCenter ADS-2000e
Speed Up to 24 ppm @ 300 dpi (medium resolution sufficient for documents)
Capacity Up to 50-sheet ADF | Max size: 8.5″ x 34″
Durability Daily duty cycle of 1,500 pages per day
Ease of use Robust set of packaged software including Nuance PDF Converter.
Other factors n/a Scan to options of packaged software are somewhat limited
Price $ $ $270 on Amazon (as of October 2017)
 
More details: Full specs | Datasheet
Purchase at: Amazon
 

Bottom Line: If you want to go paperless on a tighter budget, this is definitely the best option for you.


Scanner #4 (High-end option): Canon DR-M160II

duplex scanner review Canon DR-M160II
Speed Up to 60 ppm @ 200 dpi (medium resolution sufficient for documents)
Capacity Up to 60-sheet ADF | Max size: 8.5″ x 118″ | Min size: 2″ x 2″
Durability Daily duty cycle: 7,000 pages/day. Ready even for the demands of a small business.
Ease of use Built with SMBs in mind, this will take a little more work to set up compared to other models.
Other factors n/a Comes with free upgrade to Kofax VRS Elite automatic scanning software ($695 value)
Price $ $ $ $ $870 on Amazon (as of October 2017)
More details: Full Specs
Purchase at: Amazon
 

Bottom Line: This is a more-expensive, semi-professional option. If you want a scanner that will live up to the demands of a small business, go with this one.


 

Scanner #5: Xerox DocuMate 3125

duplex scanner review Xerox DocuMate 3125
Speed Up to 35 ppm @ 200 dpi (medium resolution sufficient for documents)
Capacity Up to 50-sheet ADF |  Max size: 8.5″ x 38″ |  Min size: 3″ x 2″
Durability Daily duty cycle of 3,000 pages/day
Ease of use Has a robust set of user-friendly packaged software to get up and running quickly
Other factors n/a Some have noted issues with home networking, but fine for direct connection to Mac or PC
Price $ $ $ $291 on Amazon (as of October 2017).
More details: Full Specs | Datasheet
Purchase at: Amazon
 

Bottom Line: This is another great option, leveraging Xerox’s years of expertise and leadership in corporate scanning / copying solutions.


 

Notes on Our Approach

In our close assessment of each model covered in this duplex scanner review, we considered the following factors:

  • Double- vs. single-sided scanning capability: Duplex scanners (or double-sided / two-sided scanners) are much more efficient and practical. Therefore all of the products we recommend in this review have duplex capability.
  • Speed: Pages per minute (ppm) is a measure of how quickly to scanner can feed and process pages. Impressions per minute (ipm) is typically twice the ppm rating (as it is scanning the front and back of the page simultaneously). The scanners we reviewed have ratings ranging from 24 to 60 ppm and 48 to 120 ipm.
  • Capacity: This is a measure of the auto document feed (ADF) tray’s capacity. This is important so that you can scan small batches of paper in one pass. The ADF capacity of the scanners we reviewed ranges from 50 to 60 pages.
  • Durability: Our objective in looking at durability is to understand how the scanner will hold up over time. We have been the happy owners of a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 for over 7 years, and we want you to have just as good an experience. We use the manufacturers daily duty cycle rating as a proxy for the long-term capability of the scanner.
  • Ease of Use: We look at the quality of the packaged software included with the scanner, how quickly you will be able to get up and running, and the ease / efficiency of the scanning process with each scanner and software package.
  • Other Factors: We also look at a range of other factors and points of consumer feedback specific to each duplex scanner and include these where relevant.

Enjoy this duplex scanner review? Follow us on Facebook to get notified about the remaining five installments of TidyFlat’s TidyGuide to Going Paperless, coming out soon. Also, take a look at our other articles in the TidyFlat Notebook.

Decluttering Strategy 101: A Tongue-in-Cheek Take on Tidying

BOOK REVIEW

We recap the cleaning and decluttering strategy from Sarah Knight’s latest self-help parody, Get Your Sh*t Together.

This book won’t make the NYT Best Sellers list, nor will a friend suggest it for the next book club read. All the same, we welcome its fresh (even if satirical) perspective on streamlining life and concise decluttering strategy. Rather than review the full book, we’re focusing on the most salient takeaways with respect to decluttering and organizing your home.

In this book, Knight’s key insight on any tidying method is that, simply put, it’s really quite hard to consistently follow through (beyond the honeymoon, that is). Given this, she argues for a practical-over-perfectionist approach to keeping a tidy home.

Knight’s approach hinges on the following four steps:

  1. Set a Reasonable Goal. “Ever-ready for a TV commercial” is not a reasonable goal. Nor is having a P-Touch-labeled drawer for every single category of minutiae in your house. Instead, set your sights on an attainable goal that will bring you peace of mind without constant effort to maintain it. Knight’s suggestion of a tidying goal: 

    Not only clean your house, but keep it clean for unexpected company, impromptu dinner parties, and your own general sanity.

  2. Strategize. Knight suggests a very pragmatic decluttering strategy: Start with a one-time cleanup. Perhaps not a KonMari-quality purge, but something that would do if a neighbor were to stop by on short notice. Then, divide your routine into categories of mini-goals (rather than items, per KonMari ). For example: picking up toys, folding laundry, vacuuming. The key is to dividing into tasks small enough (aim for ~20 minutes ) that you can tackle one or two every couple days.
  3. Focus. Now that you have your list of ~20-minute mini-goals, the next part of the decluttering strategy is to carve out the time every couple days to focus solely on getting them done. Picking up toys is not so hard if you are fully-focused on it (it’s the distractions that can turn a ~20-minute task into an afternoon). Some mini-goals, like vacuuming, are more time-consuming and best reserved for weekends.
  4. Commit. Now you’ve set your mini-goals. You’ve determined how much time it takes to complete each of them. And you’ve carved out the time every (other) day to focus on completing them. The final part of the decluttering strategy is to commit for the long run. In Knight’s own words (and inimitable style:

    …you’ll have no more excuses for not keeping the house clean. You built the time into your day; now all you have to do is use it. You’ve effectively backed yourself into a corner with your own Swiffer.

We have covered the cleaning and decluttering strategy from Knight’s book, but it’s packed with many other great insights. If you like her no-nonsense, satirical tone, consider picking the book up below. 

Get Your Sh*t Together - Decluttering Strategy Book Review

Get Your Sh*t Together: How to Stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want to Do

 BY SARAH KNIGHT
 
GoodReads: 3.7 of 5 stars
Amazon: 4.3 of 5 stars
304 pages, published December 27th 2016
 
Purchase at: Amazon |  B&N 

If you enjoyed reading Get Your Sh*t Together, we would recommend the following books (click each to view at Amazon):

      

If you enjoyed this post, see this review of a more traditional approach presented in Marie Kondo’s Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Decluttering for Good: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

BOOK REVIEW

We revisit the timeless lessons from Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the seminal bible on decluttering your home and life.

Marie Kondo published The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up six years ago, but its valuable decluttering lessons have not aged a day. Here are the takeaways that resonate most with us:

  1. Start by Discarding at Once, Intensely and Completely. Not only does purging early feel great, but it saves the focus and energy for organizing on the belongings that are worth keeping. You will feel lighter on your feet once you are through this important first step.
  2. Organize by Category, Not by Room. It is tempting to try to declutter your home one room at a time, but Kondo warns against this.  Kondo suggests tackling categories one-by-one. Start with clothing (which is loaded with the fewest emotions), then books, then papers, and lastly photographs.
  3. Beware of Nostalgia. Memories are essential to a happy life, but Kondo reminds us that getting swept up in them while decluttering is a sure way to undermine the effort. 
  4. Surround Yourself with Things That You Love. Letting go of physical objects is naturally challenging. But by deciding what not to discard, you are freeing yourself up to cherish what you keep. This is truly liberating.
  5. Fold vertically! And reuse old shoe boxes or box tops to organize your small garment drawers. This changed our lives. The book explains it clearly, but even better is this video.
  6. Tidy Home, Tidy Life. In Kondo’s words “when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.” We could not agree more. It takes disciple and dedication to declutter your home, but it is a life-transforming investment of time and energy. This is the hidden magic of a tidy home.

We’ve shared our top takeaways above, just scratching the surface on what Marie Kondo has to offer. If you’d like to go further, consider picking up the book below. 

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Decluttering Book Review

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering & Organizing

 By Marie Kondō
 
GoodReads: 3.7 of 5 stars
Amazon:  4.5 of 5 stars
213 pages, first published January 15th 2011)
 
Purchase at: Amazon |  B&N 

If you enjoyed reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, we would recommend the following (click each to view at Amazon):

Amazon    Amazon  

Have a dry wit? See this review of a tongue-in-cheek approach to tidying by Sarah Knight in her new book on strategies to streamline your life.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself While Closet Cleaning

Asking yourself these closet cleaning questions will help you surface the reasons you are holding onto things that you don’t need and that are cluttering your life.  And once you have that realization, letting go of them and embracing a streamlined life follows seamlessly. Get ready to tidy your home and declutter your life.

home organization closet cleaning
…it’s time.

The first 5 of 10 closet cleaning questions are about categories:

  1. Did I buy this outfit for one particular (formal) occasion? If it was a sentimental occasion, think about what other items or keepsakes you have to recall that occasion (photos, mementos, etc.), take a picture of the outfit and set the outfit aside for giveaway.
  2. Is this outfit or accessory otherwise sentimental to me? Sentimentality is great. You should hold onto those memories, but not the objects that are cluttering your home and life.  Take a picture of it and set it aside for giveaway.
  3. Do I have to squeeze to fit into this dress, these pants, etc.? Why not just hold onto the pieces that fit beautifully? Set the others aside for giveaway.
  4. Related, have I been holding onto this piece to get it tailored?  If so, will you take it to the tailor in the next two weeks?  If not, set it aside for giveaway. 
  5. Do I feel guilty about what I spent on this item? First of all, don’t! There was a time and place for it, and it felt great to buy it. But that’s not a reason to hold onto something you won’t ever use again.  Dump the guilt, and set the item aside for giveaway. 

The last 5 of 10 closet cleaning questions are about quantities:

  1. How many items am I holding onto for my children?  Many of us have great intentions for such items yet fail to pass them along at the opportune time (especially if kept in storage).  Avoid this pitfall by selecting a few pieces filled with the most memories to give to your (children’s) children. Set the rest aside for giveaway.
  2. Do I have multiples of this item? One is enough. Pick your favorite color and set the others aside for giveaway.
  3. Do I need this many winter coats? By the way, how many of them did I wear last season?  Consider setting the excess coats aside for giveaway.  It will help declutter your life, and someone needs it more than you do.
  4. Do I need this many hats? Hats never wear out. Styles and usefulness do. Set the excess aside for giveaway.
  5. Do I need this many purses? Same point as hats.

You will be amazed by how these 10 questions will accelerate your closet cleaning efforts. It will also be much more pleasant to go into that closet when you are done. Once you’ve set aside the pieces you no longer need, let us know if we can help.


Too much paper in your house (and life)?  …Read our review of the best scanners and get started going paperless today.