…it’s the paperwork

Organization. I think about it a lot this time of year. I keep all my tax-related receipts and documents sorted in an expandable file folder, but those items need to be collated and tabulated. I use Excel, which I don’t care for but is ubiquitous. I was always a Lotus 1-2-3 fan, but that went the way of the dodo years ago.

One step I’ve yet to take is use of a scanning app to copy paper receipts and documents. The US Internal Revenue Service has accepted electronic documentation for quite some time, and the thought of exchanging paper for easily searchable electronic files is very appealing. But part of me is still attached to the concept of hard copy. And so the expandable file folders keep piling up.

Notes. I attend at least one writers conference every year, and spend hours a day taking extensive notes during panels and presentations. I used to use paper notebooks or pads, then would either lose them after returning home or find that I had written so quickly that my handwriting was illegible in spots. That drove me to give note-taking apps a try, even though my typing speed leaves much to be desired. Two that I’ve used are Evernote, a third party app, and Notes, which comes preloaded on Macs. Both work well on my iPad Air 2, an older model that may be teetering on the brink of obsolescence given how often iOS is updated. One nice thing about using these apps is that I can photograph slides etc with my phone, then add them to the notes. Another is that I can always find them since they’re saved on the iPad as well as on the cloud. Finally, I can read them.

I realize that these apps, however useful, are not the cutting edge of note compilation. Smart pens and smart paper fascinate me. Information sticks with me better when I write it than when I type it, so I am often tempted to try out a smart pen so I can have the best of both worlds, the reinforcement of handwriting plus the option to save it as easily readable and searchable text. My concern is that the devices aren’t in widespread use and many require vendor apps to interface with laptops etc. Small companies go out of business all the time, at which point I’d possibly be left with a gadget that might no longer be supported. There’s also the possibility, stronger than I like to admit, that I would use a smart pen a few times, then consign it to a drawer.

So for the time being, I will be sticking with a keyboard, my iPad, and a relatively widespread program for taking notes. As for organization, I know there are scanning apps out there, and it’s past time for me to look into them.

Have you ever used smart pens or paper? What’s your favorite organizational app or method?


About Kristine Smith

Kristine Smith is the author of the Jani Kilian series and a number of SF and fantasy short stories, and is a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She worked as a pharmaceutical process development scientist for 26 years, but now writes full-time. She also writes supernatural thrillers under the name Alex Gordon. Check out her BVC bookshelf


…it’s the paperwork — 3 Comments

  1. I haven’t tried the smart pen, though I was intrigued awhile back when some folks had a pen that allowed them to mark up a manuscript on a screen (a tablet device). The ms. was in Word, but the marks and comments on it could be saved.

    My current tool is a portable keyboard that works with my phone. My handwriting leaves a lot to be desired, so I prefer to type notes. I just save them in google docs, which makes them available both on the phone and the computer. I do use a relatively large Android phone.

    • I use a bluetooth keyboard with my iPad, but I didn’t realize they made keyboards for phones as well.

      I am so behind the curve when it comes to tech.

      • This keyboard is bluetooth and it will work with any bluetooth device — phone, tablet, probably even laptop (but I have a full size keyboard I use with my laptop). It can be paired with any operating system, and has three different settings so you can preset it to three different devices. And it wasn’t expensive. I wouldn’t mind something a little lighter — it weighs about the same as a tablet — but otoh it has nice firm keys so that you can feel what you’re doing.

        And as for behind the curve: I first saw something like this about ten years ago, but have only had mine for less than a year. I think the last time I wasn’t completely behind the curve on tech was in 1983 when I got my first computer: a Kaypro II.