Using to Save Expenses to Evernote (via Brett Kelly)

I’ve been diving deep into (iTunes Link) in preparation for an upcoming Mac Power Users Episode. (The show should hit your feeds Monday) While I’m really enjoying the power and simplicity of Workflow, I will admit that I’m not that creative in coming up with my own unique workflows from scratch. However, I have become proficient in taking workflows that others have created and tweaking them to meet my needs. 

Earlier this week, my pal Brett Kelly posted his workflow for saving expense receipts to Evernote. This struck a cord for me because I too use Evernote to manage all my receipts and I keep a notebook with all potentially tax-deductible expenses that I go through when preparing my taxes. I downloaded Brett’s workflow and modified it a bit so it would better fit my needs. Before you read about my changes, you should first read about Brett’s workflow and how it works

I updated the expense category list to better suit my needs and instead of using this variable for the name of my note, it became a tag. You could do either, but this better fits into the way I use Evernote.

I use a uniform naming convention when naming my notes that includes the date as the first part of the note title (See this article from David Sparks for more insight). So I created a step in the Workflow to get today’s date, format it using my preferred naming convention and insert this as a variable into the note’s name. This way every note will start with the date the image was taken (which can be adjusted later if needed) in the YYYY.MM.DD format.

Speaking of formatting dates, I have notebooks titled "Tax Receipts YYYY" for every year dating back the last few  years. Because I'm currently working on my 2014 taxes while saving items in to my 2015 Tax Receipts folder there are several times of the year when I have multiple folders active. I want to make sure my note is saved in the proper folder, and I don't want to forget to update my workflow when the new year rolls around. So I created another step to get the current year, save it as a variable named "Year". I then add that Variable to the end of the notebook name "Tax Receipts". This means Workflow always saves my receipt to the proper notebook and I don't have to worry about updating my workflow when the new year rolls around.

 I prefer to have a bit more description in my titles for the receipt, so I have Workflow prompt me for a description of the item which will be inserted in my note title. Therefore the final title of my note will look something like this: 2015.02.25 Business lunch with David  $25.15

Brett's action had Workflow then prompt him to take a photo of the receipt. I played around with trying to integrate Workflow with various iPhone scanning apps but was unsuccessful (if anyone can make this work let me know.) So I had to settle with using the iPhone's camera App itself, but I did want to clean up the image a bit before saving it. So I added a step to edit the image. This will allow me to crop and rotate the image as necessary to clean it up before saving the image to Evernote.

Finally, I prefer to save all my receipts as PDFs rather than images. So I dragged in the "make PDF" action after the photo action. This converts the image to a PDF before creating the note in Evernote.

If you want to download the final workflow you can do so here. Please feel free to tweak it to meet your needs.

I should also take this opportunity to mention that for my fellow Evernote fans, Brett Kelly is the man who *literally* wrote the book on Evernote. If you are still looking for ways to up your Evernote game, you should check out Evernote Essentials. Brett also joined us on an episode of MPU discussing Evernote.