Review: Go paperless with your iPad & David Sparks’ Paperless book

July 12, 2012

Into each life, a little paper must fall…or something like that. No matter how reliant on technology we become, it seems like we can't fully escape piles of paper documents. But while we may not be able to escape paper entirely, we can learn to manage it better.

That's the goal of Paperless, a book by David Sparks, an attorney, and author of the MacSparky productivity blog. In keeping with his tree-free ethos, Paperless is available digitally, as an iBook for iPads, or as a PDF.

The iBooks version takes full advantage of your iPad as a multimedia device, offering loads of written tips, techniques, and suggestions throughout, alongside 32 screencast videos highlighting methods for creating and maintaining a solid, frictionless paperless workflow.

As Sparks is an iPad & Mac user, Paperless focuses on hardware and software that works well within Apple's ecosystem. But many of his techniques are easily applied to whatever hardware you use.

Sparks starts with an explanation of why to go paperless, and follows up with suggestions for the hardware, software, and best-practices to maintain a paperless system. The goal is to simplify the creation and storage digital documents fast and easy—and more importantly, to make that information accessible when and where you need it, whether that's a computer at the office, or on your iPad at 35,000 feet.

Paperless is an exhaustive resource, and includes everything from making scanned content searchable, file storage options, and backup, to minutiae like file naming, and the merits of file tagging vs. hierarchical folders for organization.

While Sparks' methodology could be summed up in a few quick paragraphs, the value of Paperless lies in the level of detail covering all aspects of creating and using a paperless system. The writing is clear, conversational, and well thought out, although it does stray into skim-able territory at times (the section on how to read the book itself, for example).

Some of Sparks' advice is fairly well-known productivity doctrine but the in-depth descriptions, as well as detailed pros and cons of various methods of creating, storing and using your scanned documents make Paperless a great starting point for your own paperless system. 

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