How I Use Evernote to Eliminate Paper Clutter

I love Evernote.

I use it for so many things now that I don’t know how I lived without it before.

One of the reasons I love Evernote is this:

It eliminates paper clutter.

While working through the projects in Simple Mom’s 52 Bites ebook, I realized that a handheld scanner combined with Evernote would make eliminating files and other paper clutter a cinch.

I splurged on a Doxie scanner. (Why the Doxie and not some other? Because with Doxie, you can scan papers directly into your Evernote account. Cool huh?!)

The first paper clutter I tackled?

My recipes. I wrote here about how my recipes were … um, not working.

It took a couple of hours, but now my recipes are ALL scanned and neatly organized in my Evernote account. When it’s time for me to do my meal plan, I simply open Evernote and search around.  I can search by ingredient if I have something I need to use up or if there’s a really great deal at the store I want to take advantage of.

Declutter your cookbooks.

How many of us just plain have too many cookbooks? Here’s the thing. I only had about 6 when I started this process, and I actually DID use them all (I already got rid of the ones I didn’t in another decluttering mission.) BUT.

How many recipes in those cookbooks do we actually use?

In my case, it was around 5 – 10%, tops. In other words, if a cookbook had 200 recipes, I might actually use 10 of those. If I hadn’t experimented and cooked the other recipes because they were too complicated, had ingredients my family doesn’t enjoy, too time consuming, too expensive, or for whatever reason just didn’t appeal… why keep them?

Here’s a compelling reason not to keep cookbooks.


Yikes, I can’t believe I’m telling the internets this, but last winter we had a pregnant mouse move in. Like a good little mammal she was eager to begin making her nest, so she went around the house looking for good material to use. Paper was one of her favorite things.

It just so happened that my cookbooks, which are both paper and flavored with splatters of food and grease (as cookbooks tend to do when they are used…) became the nightly hotspot. We could actually hear her tearing and chewing at my cookbooks in the middle of the night.


It was somewhat painful to have to throw out expensive cookbooks, but what can you do? This is one of the reasons clutter is evil: because it attracts vermin. Cockroaches also love to eat paper, and since cookbooks are nicely “flavored”, my guess is that they would contribute to a problem there too.

I recently got rid of a couple more cookbooks because I was only using a handful of the recipes. I neatly tore them out, and scanned them into Evernote.

Enough about that.

Onto office and other household paper.

Some paper is inevitable. Tax receipts come to mind. Social security cards, marriage licenses, divorce and custody papers… I’m not suggesting you toss this stuff. But what about things like cool articles you cut out of magazines, or product manuals, or medical and health records?

Scan them! Firstly, I don’t keep product manuals because they’re always available online somewhere. Always. But I did have some articles that I actually used, like that one about how to cut your kid’s hair. I would refer back to it periodically, so I scanned it, and now it’s safe forever in Evernote.

Since my business is online and therefore digital, I almost never have actual paper receipts. But on the rare occasion that I do, my accountant told me that it’s perfectly copasetic to keep a scanned copy, not the paper one. (Ask yours before taking my advice, please.) This seems safer to me anyway, because paper is subject to fire, mold, water damage, and fading. In fact just a few months ago, I had to throw away some tax records I kept in the basement because they were completely unreadable, due to mold. Yikes.

This is what’s working for me. All of my paper files fit into one small portable half empty file cabinet.

To-do lists, brain dumps, and other uses for paper.

I used to think that I was a big paper person and that I would never use something digital to take notes, make to – do lists, brain dumps and other personal growth/productivity uses.

I’m actually finding that it isn’t true. Using paper notebooks has always been a mixed bag for me. While I love physically writing out a to do list, especially if I’m feeling overwhelmed, I was always losing the list, or having it destroyed somehow (and then forgetting those important ideas!) or having to type it out anyway (as in the case of blog post ideas).

I actually have more peace of mind now that I keep things digital.

As an example, shopping lists. How many times have you gotten to the store and forgotten your list? Now, I never do because it’s right inside my phone. For places I go to rarely, like IKEA, it’s even more important, because once I get in there I get overwhelmed.

I keep separate Evernote notebooks for various projects. I have one for each of my websites, for instance. I can easily add long term goals or ideas for blog posts or whatever, without worrying about losing my ideas due to the problems with paper. For things like blog post ideas, this is actually a time saver in the long run because then I can copy and paste the notes directly into my blog.

If I do get a real hankering for paper and pen, I can always write things out by hand. Then I can scan those handwritten notes into Evernote to save time typing!

You can get an Evernote account for free and it syncs to your laptop/computer, phone and anywhere else you want to put it. I love it!

Do you use Evernote? How has it helped you eliminate paper clutter?

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2 Responses to How I Use Evernote to Eliminate Paper Clutter

  1. Great ideas for making more use of Evernote!

    I’m planning to de-paper myself more and more too.

    I’m forcing myself to embrace Evernote for my planning and brainstorming – I like pen and paper so much, it is hard to break the habit.

    I love that I can access my notes anywhere though – so it’s worth the effort to form a new habit :)

  2. Diana Walker says:

    I haven’t used Evernote, though I keep hearing more and more about it.
    I really appreciated your ideas and ways you are using it to streamline your life.
    I will definitely be looking into Evernote!

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