Digital Documents Everywhere

About 14 years ago I started what was an ongoing process for the next 4-5 years of removing most of the paper clutter in my life and either moving things to a digital format if I wanted to keep them or I just got rid of it. The first big chunk of that stuff was old financial statements. I remember finding a bank statement I had from the year I was born. I mean really was that something I needed anymore? The short answer was no as it was beyond any amount of time that I would need to look back and in addition, I had long since closed that account too (that is another story of frustration with a local bank charging a poor college kid fees).

Now that I have moved almost all of my paper goods to digital I have realized that my digital life is kind of a mess. When I first started with a more digital approach I would just scan paper items in and save them on my computer. However, then I found Evernote and started to use that as a big repository of documents as it supported PDFs and was easy enough to organize. However, fast forward to a couple of years ago when I got a Samsung tablet and I then thought with this handwritten support in OneNote I should move everything there. Then I moved on from Android and went all in on iOS devices so it made sense to use a different app I quickly gravitated to the Notes app and I moved things to DayOne for archival purposes as well. However, as luck would have it at my new job I can’t access the Apple Notes app because they block logging into iCloud and I don’t have a Mac either which makes it more difficult. So I was on the hunt again for something that can play nice with all my devices so I have been giving Craft a try.

Now that we are in a new year, I am trying to figure out the best approach going forward. However, I need to break it down into some categories because as much as I would love to have everything living in one place I just don’t think that makes sense anymore.

  • Kids Stuff - This can be anything from pictures they create at school, papers, newspaper articles about them or their team, vacation stuff they want to remember either written or spoken, and stuff from events (e.g., programs, stats, certificates). For the last 2 years this has been kept in DayOne and I think that is the best place to keep it going forward. I have a Journal for each kid and just drop stuff in there as we go. What makes this even better is that my wife is great at documenting our travels and life by taking pictures and posting them for family and friends on Instagram. I have her account get sucked into DayOne as well so not only can we see pictures and stuff from when our kids were doing something but also the remember this day might show artwork or something else from the kids.
  • Household / Financial Stuff - Broad category here as I am going to toss in receipts, anything for Taxes, and warranties as well. Maybe this category should be broken out but in the past, both of these things have lived together in Evernote, then OneNote, and now some have started to find it’s the way in Notes. This is the one place that has been bumped around all over the place and I am not really sure where to have it live going forward. Now that I have been using Craft more I debate putting it in there as I feel like I could create a Workspace that has just one or the other in there. However, there is the thought that I need to keep less financial stuff lately as almost all the places I use to keep an online history for more years than I need. However, I would still need a place to keep donation receipts and other miscellaneous receipts / statements as well. No real solution for myself right now but this is an area of focus for me.
  • Work Stuff - This is a strange one as I don’t really need most of this stuff long-term but I have been really struggling with where to put work notes / items to follow up on. Quick disclaimer, at my current company we use Windows machines and the Google Suite of apps. Oh, and our computers are really locked down. So where I used to take notes in OneNote for work I then was going to start up with Apple Notes but then had no way to access them at my current job. So I have found myself using Craft. The unfortunate thing here is I can not install the Windows Application but have to do everything in the web app. It is good so I am not complaining but now I have started to use a real notebook again to capture those quick things and quickly draw something out. So I am left with a really fragmented work note-keeping area. The only saving grace here is that I typically don’t need a lot of the stuff for years. It is in the realm of writing something to quickly reference it for about a 1 year period but not after that.

So not only am I trying to figure out the best way to keep things going forward the bigger part of this that isn’t addressed is what do do with everything else. I havn’t even started on one-off digital pictures, random files (e.g., Word, Excel, Text), and everything else that people accumulate while using computers over their lifetime. I am not sure why but it is harder for me to toss out a random document or digital item vs how quickly I was able to do it with old paper / physical stuff I had. I used to save all my financial statements and file them away in folders on my computer which now just lives on a home server. Again, most of those statements are at places I no longer have accounts or pay statements from places I don’t work anymore (10+ years ago).

I don’t have a specific solution today but curious what others do as I attempt to get a better process as well as clean up older digital clutter in 2023.

Eric Walker @ericmwalk