This post is part of a series called Your Questions Answered that highlights questions from readers just like you. If you have a question you would like to submit, you can do so here.
Dear Amy –
I have these enormous binders from college many years ago.
I know I need to toss a lot of it, but there are definitely resources in there I don’t want to get rid of (and would love to make more easily accessible to review).
I would hedge a guess many-a-teachers are nodding their heads in agreement – me being one of them. Ha!
You’re beating me to this task as it’s one I’ve also had on my list for years but never seems to move up in importance. Bravo to you for tackling it!
That being said, I went through a similar purge of all my MTNA American Music Teacher and Clavier Companion magazines last year.
8 years’ worth and something like 5 magazine file boxes was weighing me down mentally. Why? Because how does someone utilize any of that information or recall what they need to from stacks (or binders) of information.
That’s when you decide (as we did) that enough was enough.
How did I tackle it?
A little at a time – not putting pressure on myself to use one of my days off to do it all.
I placed a small stack next to the couch and every day – either first thing in the morning during my brief quiet reading time or at the end of the day’s downtime – I would flip through one or two magazines.
It’s surprising how much I remembered what articles I enjoyed and found benefit in. (It helped that the first time I read them years ago, I folded down the page on my favorite articles. 🙂 )
Step #1 – Find a time frame that works that feels achievable, not overwhelming.
Step #2 – Flip through, skim, and determine what is most beneficial moving into the future. (Have high standards – only the best information/articles. For me, that was no more than 1 or 2 per magazine – sometimes none!)
Next, I used the Scannable app to scan the articles. (Genius Scan is another favorite app for scanning).
When you scan with Scannable, you can choose to save it in either PDF or image format into Evernote, or “send” it into another program.
So, even though Scannable is an Evernote product, you could use it to scan items and send to any of your file managers such as Google Drive or iCloud Drive.
Step #3 – Scan and save in the best digital management place for you.
Remember that simply saving articles digitally will not do you any more good than the physical ones if you don’t make them easily accessible – that is, easily searchable).
One of the reasons I absolutely adore Evernote is because Evernote Premium gives you additional search powers. It can search the text of PDFs as well as your handwriting on hand-written notes! I find that amazing (and incredibly helpful).
Without Evernote Premium, it will only search the titles of notes and text typed in the notes themselves.
If you don’t want to pay for Premium, or if you prefer to use a cloud file manager such as Google Drive or iCloud Drive to save all of your stuff, the best way around this would be to make sure you title the document thoroughly for what it’s about.
Sometimes I add additional words outside of the title – ones that I might use when searching for information on that particular topic. This will make it much more searchable in whatever digital storage place you use.
Here’s an example (from an online article/resource):
Natalie Weber has a composition resource called “The Psalms Project.” I might title the file name (or Evernote note) like this:
The Psalms Project_Composition_Composing
Otherwise, if I saved that PDF file and was looking in my digital files for a composing activity, using the word “composition” is not in the original article title.
I hope that makes sense!
If you use Evernote, you can also tag every item with a multitude of things. So I might tag that one note with the tags:
composition, bible, summer camp
Then, that one note/file will show up under each category without being duplicated in Evernote.
Step #4 – Make sure the materials you are converting to a digital format are easily searchable and thus useful.
Once you make your choice of what’s worth keeping. The last part may feel a little difficult…
Trash the rest.
You didn’t look at it for 10 years anyway, right?
Is it really that important?
I don’t think so.
Feel the weight lift from your shoulders? Ahhh…
Step #5 – Let it go. The trash is your friend.
P.S. Please recycle.
P.S.S. If you’re interested in diving into all the great ways that Evernote can work for you and your business, check out the Evernote for Independent Music Teachers series here on Piano Pantry.
Please note that Piano Pantry is an Evernote affiliate, which means I earn a small percentage back if you sign up using my link at no extra cost to you. See all disclosures here.