I’ve written previously about how to capture documents into Evernote. There’s even an entire chapter in my book, Evernote Every Day, that’s all about how to capture and track bills so you’re always ahead of the game. In any system however, if you step out of that system something is going to go wrong. The following is my story of what happened when I ignored my paperless system for tracking and paying bills on time…
It was morning. I had just arrived at work. While I was still waiting for things to load on my computer, my mobile phone rang. The wife.
“Hello!” I say.
“Did you pay the childcare bill?”
“Umm.. I think so. Why?” I begin to feel confused and a little worried. It’s rare, very rare, for a bill to slip by me these days.
“They are saying they haven’t received it and they need it paid now.”
And so the conversation went on. Me defending myself and the bill tracking system I had developed and become so dependent on, and the wife showing her concern at the predicament we were in.
She continued, “the bill was on the buffet table. I remember you looking at it. Didn’t you take a photo of it or something?” Uh oh… The wife is also dependent on my system and me that takes care of paying all the bills.
“I saw them yes, but I couldn’t tell if they were old, receipts, or new things, so I left it alone” and thus the system began to fail. Or more accurately, I began to fail. The system was fine, as long as it is used.
“There was a receipt, and a new bill” the wife informs me.
“Crap. Can you please take a photo of the bill and send it to me and I’ll pay it straight away.”
Moments later my phone springs to life as three new photos arrive. One a close up of the total amount owing, another close up of the due date (which had now lapsed), and one of the payment details.
Opening my web browser, I navigate straight to my online banking and make the payment. I print the payment receipt as a PDF and save it directly to Evernote – this one isn’t going to sneak past me. Finally, I reply to the wife with a simple “Done.”
Later I started to ponder how this bill eluded me. How was it that it was sitting right in front of me and yet I let it get away? The answer was simple. I didn’t stick to the system.
The system has two simple requirements:
- Capture everything
- Review new stuff regularly
The second step is dependent on the first having been completed. And that’s where I went wrong.
I didn’t capture the paper.
Even though I wasn’t 100% sure of what all the paper was trying to tell me, I still should have captured it to Evernote. It certainly looked important enough to go into the system. I should have used the document camera in the Evernote app to capture all the paper into a single note and left it in my default notebook, which I’ve appropriately renamed “.Inbox” (the dot makes this notebook appear at the top of all other notebooks). Then, when my weekly review happens every Friday I would have reviewed that note in more detail, assigned the right tags (#bill), noted the due date and set that date as a reminder. This would have kept the bill at the top of all my notes (in the reminders list section) and I would have been notified via email on the day it was due.
I failed. Not the system. And now, my paper-loving wife has lost her confidence in how I manage bills.
“I’m going to get some folders and were going to keep all the childcare bills and receipts as PAPER” she said.
The system in Evernote Every Day is sound. Stick to it!