taste is in the tongue of the beholder

My dad — a wonderful, order wonderful man, erectile full of faith, physician wisdom and joy — has one flaw: He’s a bit messy.

And by “a bit”, I mean trending toward an episode of Hoarders.

But you can’t blame him. He escaped from a communist-controlled country where it was illegal to have a Bible, lots of books, and even reams of blank paper. Who knows what kind of propaganda you could put together with that combination? Blank paper! The Horror!

My dad is a smart guy. As a doctor, he figured out clever procedures to solve patients’ problems. He was a 70s version of House, but with a Slovak accent.

He writes voraciously, even today. Any slip of paper nearby is fair game for his thoughts. It makes for dangerous work when you go to throw away the empty envelopes from the utility bill. You have to check both sides in case he wrote something prolific on the back.

He reads and studies a lot, too. That’s why he has so many books and magazines around his house. As a kid, I learned to tread carefully past the piles of papers and magazines when I wanted to use the computer in his office.

People talk about the environments they grew up in and the effect that has on their psyche as adults. I can say for certain that my sisters and I all have a thing for organizing systems. I refuse to step foot into a Container Store, fearing I would blow our retirement on drawers, cabinets and bins. I get jittery enough when I go to Ikea.

I actually abhor paper. I guess being a computer guy, I think the paperless office is the future we should have gotten to 20 years ago.

So, I’m not a hoarder in a traditional sense. Yeah, I am a digital hoarder. Step one is admitting I have a problem.

The good news is that cleaning out my mess after I’m gone involves three steps: Select All, delete, confirm. Gone.

My two favorite tools for my digital hoard are my ScanSnap scanner and Evernote. The ScanSnap lets me scan anything on paper so I can shred or toss it. Anything I scan or find on the web ends up in Evernote.

And here is the problem

Like my dad, I’ve collected vast amounts of information. I’ve even gone as far as sorting most of it into folders in Evernote that seem to make sense.

But where I fall down is with knowing what I have. Sure, search works great… like Google for my brain. But I have to know a nugget of knowledge is there to search for. I can’t say how many times I’ve gotten caught up reading something I sent to Evernote awhile back but forgot I ever bookmarked.

It would be nice to have a way to dredge and surf the hoard. To know my thoughts better and to draw new conclusions after a passage of time.

What are your ideas?

How do you sift through Evernote to discover or remember the things you thought were interesting?

Please! Leave a comment and let me know your tips and tricks!


As for my dad, I haven’t convinced him yet to scan and upload everything to the cloud. But he’s decided we can get rid of the old medical magazines since he’s been retired for years already. Yay!

GTD and Lifehacks