Ever look back on just about anything you have accomplished and ask yourself, “I did THAT?!”
Basically, have you ever surprised yourself? And if so, why were you so surprised to begin with?
It won’t come as a shock to anyone to realize that we live in a world where the traditional fifteen minutes of fame has shrunk down to seconds. And even that is dwindling too. Attention spans aren’t what they used to be, and if I haven’t gotten you to read on by this point, chances are you’ve already moved on.
We’re in a world that’s all about “What have you done for me lately?” rather than a world that asks, “Tell me about all the things you’ve achieved this year and how did you manage to progress in your goals?”
See the difference? The first question can be answered in seconds, the other will take a few minutes. But make no mistake: the tones for each of these questions is significantly different, which is also perhaps subconsciously affecting the way we see ourselves and our own progress.
The Importance of Looking Back on Past Accomplishments
So why are our own attention spans for our own progress or achievements shrinking too? Well, that’s likely because we’re not seeing the big picture and we aren’t valuing ourselves, or our time, as much as we should.
In short, we are unappreciative of our own success. In fact, there may even come moments in which we feel like we aren’t progressing, or we haven’t achieved much of anything. Midlife crisis, anyone?
Sometimes, we as human beings are so focused on progress and advancing in every aspect of our lives, we forget to look back on how we got to where we are today.
I am guilty of this kind of forgetfulness daily. Or rather, I used to be. That is until I started to archive my efforts, I was like you and would surprise myself all too often.
The Power of Archiving Your Efforts
Writing for a blog will do that. Often, it’s all about getting the article out on time and meeting deadlines. But looking back on past articles and reading my own writing months later, I realize all that I have managed to accomplish in a short time frame.
Not only that, but I am able to read and see my own progress as a writer through word choice, structure, tone, and voice. And I can tell you with the utmost confidence that indeed my writing has evolved and grown over time. That’s called progress.
Hence why learning to appreciate progress and looking back on our successes (no matter how big or small) will go a long way towards giving ourselves the credit we deserve.
Learning to value our own ability to progress through and ultimately achieve our goals through self-reflection is what I like to call the power of archiving your efforts. Here’s how it’s done:
Digitize Your Files
Have a bunch of printed paper that’s cluttering your desk? Chances are your achievements are buried beneath the stacks of papers, just waiting for you to discover them.
But then again, decluttering your desk seems like too much effort, right? WRONG!
Here’s why getting organized will do you good. Plus, by digitizing your documents, you’re making progress on clearing your desk of clutter. That’s achieving a goal, even if it might not be on the top of your list of to-dos.
So why not take that fifteen seconds of progress and turn it into a lifetime of creating good habits and achievements?
By using Soda PDF, my preferred PDF editing software, you can digitize those documents with ease. Here’s how:
Use Your Scanner
If you have a scanner at home, this will become your best friend as you start the process of archiving your documents.
Simply scan your document and voila! You’ve just digitized your work in seconds! Next, you can easily open that scanned document within Soda PDF to begin the process of archiving your efforts.
Don’t have a scanner at home? No problem. Your smartphone will suffice.
Yes, take pictures of each page of your document. You’ll be paperless in no time.
Sure this might sound tedious, but all things dealing with progress usually are. It’s not about the end result or finish line, it’s all about the journey and how you managed to progress towards your ultimate goal.
By using your smartphone, for example, you can easily take pictures of each page of your document and then upload them to your computer.
These documents will now be image files, but you’ve now just cleared your desk of one less paper file. That’s what I call progress! Repeat this process until your desk is cleared and your hard drive is filling up.
And that’s how you digitize your documents. We’re making progress, but we’ve yet to truly archive our efforts to the fullest.
Optical Character Recognition from Paper Documents
One of the advanced tools offered by Soda PDF, Optical Character Recognition, is used to:
- Automatically scan & recognize text within an image
- Turn individual or multiple page ranges into editable PDFs
So how can this OCR technology help you archive your efforts?
Well, for starters you can easily take those digitized documents (see above) and turn those image files into recognizable text documents.
By having recognizable text, you can now start to archive your previous efforts. You have now accomplished a few goals:
- Your documents have been digitized
- The desk or workspace is now cleared of clutter
- You are transforming image files into editable PDFs
We are making progress, can you feel it? Feels good, doesn’t it?
Combine Your PDFs
Now that we have our documents digitized and in PDF form, we can start to combine those individual pages into a single portable document format.
Use Soda PDF to easily merge your documents. Select all of your documents that you’re looking to combine, hit Merge, and watch as your individual pages all get combined into that printed document you used to have on your desk.
You’ve got a few options for combining your PDFs. Personally, I’ve begun merging my blog articles from the past month into one singular PDF. I can then look back on all of my writing for the month in one document.
I can easily pull up this PDF to reflect on past articles and see what I need to improve or perhaps simply marvel at my writing before diving deeper into the pages to see where I can improve.
By combining documents, we’re archiving all of our work into one centralized document for safekeeping and thus we’ve just time capsuled our achievements.
Do yourself a favor: the next time you are about to watch that YouTube video during some downtime, be sure to take a few seconds to look back on your archives.
Who knows, you might surprise yourself into wanting to accomplish even more tasks!
Need to reference a certain page or perhaps you just want to remember where you can find a certain piece of your accomplishments pie?
Use the Bookmarks tool to easily reference and remind yourself of your success. You can not only add bookmarks, you can title them for a quicker visual reminder plus create an action for when you or someone clicks on the bookmark.
PDF to PDF/A
Lastly, here is the real power behind archiving your efforts: the PDF/A.
Who knows what the future holds, but if you want someone to be able to hold your PDF in the future, better convert your document into the PDF/A format.
By archiving your efforts in this manner, you’ve just made sure that as the portable document format evolves into newer versions or updates, your PDF/A will still be accessible and viewed by readers as intended.
So when it’s years from now and we’re all reminiscing about using PDFs on a daily basis, be sure to show off your efforts (and accomplishments) through the use of the PDF/A format.
You just might surprise others, but by now with all that you’re accomplishing, you’ll never surprise yourself again.