I have used DevonThinkProOffice for my paperless workflow for the last 12 months or so and I have to say that I am finding it very frustrating - its just not as simple or automatic as it could be and I was hoping for some advice to improve it.
My current workflow:
Scan with ScanSnap to DT - but I cannot just press the blue button. Each document I then need to manually name and tag and then also specify which database - I have 3 databases - household info (for things like kids schoolwork, pamphlets, sport rosters etc), personal finances by financial year (bank statements, utility bills, expense receipts etc) and finances for our family company (separate legal entity but again bank statements, expense receipts etc).
Once all the documents are in the inbox of the correct database, I check to make sure they are all tagged and then move them into a single group called tagged documents.
I have this workflow because the AI used in See Also and Classify and Auto Classify seems to be incapable of sorting documents based on their titles, their tags and often even their contents. Seriously, I have over 12 months of nearly identical monthly telephone accounts each with the name of the phone company in the title, the same tag and obviously very near similar contents - it still cannot correctly auto classify a phone bill.
My children’s school work is another - a bunch of diverse information from newsletters, drawings and sport rosters but each tagged by child’s name - why can’t it put all the documents with the same tag in the same place?
What I would like for my paperless workflow is to be able to press the blue button, have the document ScanSnap to DT, be automatically named and tagged and filed UNLESS its a document that has unique characteristics - I should not have to manually intervene with phone bills, bank statements etc that are essentially the same document each time.
I recently read David Sparks’ book Paperless about how he uses Hazel to accomplish a similar feat. Hazel can rename files automatically and move them to a folder. However, I cannot see how I could integrate Hazel with DT because you cannot go past the global inbox - once documents are renamed and put there, I would have to manually move them to the correct database so no time is saved.
David has a nested folder hierarchy with Hazel automatically able to group into subfolders by years but this raises the question of how you would archive without losing the integrity of the folder system. Does you database just grow continuously forever with 20 years of phone bills in it? I had the same dilemma with DT and have ended up having to create a new database for each year.
A further complication with financial information is that here in Australia, the financial year runs from 1 July - 30 June so a simple calendar year doesn’t help much.
In all the discussions of paperless filing systems the workflow discusses capturing, processing/sorting and storage but it never talks about a system for removing/archiving old information. Do you just grow a more and more massive database - surely this slows down how well it runs, makes it more easy to be corrupted and makes it harder to find information.
There is information, like sports rosters, that has a use by date. Or what about tax audits? Here in Australia you are legally required to retain the last 5 years of documents. If you got audited, would you rather have 5 years of info the auditors could dig through or 20?!!! I would rather have only the required minimum so I could shrug my shoulders if they tried to delve further (not that I am a tax dodger - just saying).
So how can I structure my DevonThink to make all this filing more automatic? Would love some advice from the ‘power users’ who swear DT is the way to go paperless.
PS: I have Joe Kissell’s book but don’t think its all that helpful on the automation side of things…