About every two weeks, I have this ritual where I put a towel on the bed and dump the contents of my bag onto it. I’d like to report that I’m one of those people who has an immaculate handbag with only a spare few items in it and that the lining of my bag is pristine and pretty, but let’s face it: I am not. The sorting of the mound of things that comes from that upending of my leather home away from home suddenly turns into an excavation not unlike Raiders of the Lost Ark, where I rediscover things I think have long been lost: a random earring, caps for eyeliners that won’t stay closed, favorite pens, mystery substances in napkins where I’ve had to eat in the back of a cab running for an appointment, etc.
But the most vital items unearthed during this discovery are receipts, which I’ve historically not been able to keep in any organized fashion before I file my expenses every two weeks. As a business owner, I have learned that if I don’t file my expenses quickly, they pile up and then it turns into a hideous mess of a thing. So, a-dumping I go.
Well, that was until last week. iPhone users, allow me to introduce you to The New Thing That Will Help You Get Your Life Together: Microsoft Office Lens for iPhone.
First of all, it’s FREE. Just head to the App Store on your phone and download it.
Second, it’s a capture app that turns your smartphone into a pocket scanner. You can use it to take photos of anything noteworthy so the evil twins Debris and Detritus stay out of your life: receipts, business cards, menus, sticky notes, whiteboards, etc. The app will then crop, enhance and save to OneNote so it’s seamlessly available on all devices.
Also, there’s no photography of a table or surfaces like my dumping towels: it recognizes the corners of a document so it automatically crops, enhances and cleans up the image. Furthermore, it uses optical character recognition so you can search for whatever the document was by key word in OneNote or OneDrive. Can’t remember the name of the woman who gave you her card two weeks ago but you know she was a consultant? Problem solved. Oh, and you don’t even need to head to OneNote or OneDrive for her contact information because business cards are generated as contacts you can add to your phone.
I also just learned this on my recent flight: it converts images of paper documents and whiteboard notes into Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and PDF files for easy editing and reformatting. For those of us who have printed stacks of paper before we get on planes, we can totally stop that now. For those of us who might be working on a manuscript, research notes are no longer the bane of my existence and my bag is no longer filled to overflowing with the remnants of trees.
For the insane amount of receipts I generate regularly, it helps me keep everything in a OneNote notebook marked “Expenses.” There’s a tab by month, and then there are little receipts with explanations in it in tabs by month. Now, instead of paper with taped expenses along with Excel sheets, everything is in a shared file. This is THRILLING for my accountant, and makes keeping my life together SO MUCH EASIER. See also: I can just photograph receipts as I’m dining or spending, then file them away.
So, while the graveyard of mystery napkins and eyeliners might never be resolved (perhaps a life coach is in order?), I can at least take receipts out of the equation. It’s free, it’s awesome, and you should probably check it out right now.
This was written as part of my partnership with Microsoft as a Brand Ambassador. However, all opinions expressed within are strictly my own.