using evernote in meetings.

Go here to read Eriz Mazzone’s six steps to using Evernote at your next meeting/conference.

He took the words right out of my mouth.

You should read all of Erik’s posts, actually, if you’re interested in law practice management and tech stuff. (He’s a law practice management advisor and founding director of the North Carolina Bar Association Center for Practice Management. And a generally smart guy who writes well.)

Inspired Law Blog is written by Caitlin (Cat) Moon, a consultant and coach to lawyers and other driven people who want to design inspired ways to work.

links I like.

The complete guide to structuring your ideal work day. Really good advice here.

Use video on your website? This tool redesigns the interface to match your site’s design. Use it. The Youtube interface isn’t pretty.

Considering cloud storage? Dropbox and OneDrive compared.

Already using Dropbox? Use selective sync to save space on your hard drive.

Use this extension to annotate attachments right in Gmail. Without downloading.

Remember the mix tape? Go here and make one. Listen to it. Share. Guaranteed to improve your mood.

In the market for a new laptop? Check out this interactive shopping guide “map.”

Need to learn a new skill or develop a habit? Try the pomodoro technique using Persevy.

And if you don’t know what the pomodoro technique is (or why you should care), then go here.

If you don’t like networking, you may be doing it wrong. The goal? Make friends, not simply contacts.

Links I like is a semi-regular Friday feature on Inspired Law Blog, and like all other posts, is written by Caitlin (Cat) Moon, a consultant and coach to lawyers and other driven people who want to design inspired ways to work.

links i like. june 20, 2014 edition.

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I highly recommend adding TED talks to your self-development routine. (You do have one, don’t you? A routine for developing yourself?) TED playlists make it easy to find the ones you’ll most enjoy.

Looking for a way to organize all of your favorite online rabbit holes? Try start.me to organize social and other sites, as well as RSS feeds. Organize with different pages (e.g., one for work, one for play). The neat freak in me is enjoying.

The Internet is deep and wide. Everything you need to know? It’s out there. You just have to know how to find it. Become a master information excavator with these courses: Power Searching with Google and Advanced Power Searching with Google.

On the other handle, Google is not the only game online: some other “search engines” you shouldn’t ignore.

Do two or three of the things on this list and you will find yourself with more time for things other than work.

In the spirit of life-long learning, I’ve started using lingua.ly to brush up on my Spanish. I like the word monsters.

Are you a replication creator or a skilled creator? Which one do you want to be? How to let your brain do the work. And create, instead of replicating.

Some practical tips on using codes and naming conventions for digital files.

A little inspiration for today: how to be lucky.

*YOU* should be your biggest cheerleader: read this and find out how to be your own PR person.

Does empathy play a role in how you practice? In how you market your practice? It should.

get your google on. and be productive.

The following post originally appeared on the MyCase blog, thanks to a kind invitation from Niki Black. It’s the first in a series that I’ll be publishing here about the how to get your google on.

I admit that I’m an unabashed Google fan. Some of the simplest Google tools are the most powerful in my tech toolbox, enabling me to practice both productively and efficiently. One of my more geeky hobbies is learning about all of the useful but lesser-known Google tips and tricks. Here are a few of my current favorites:

Use Google as a timer. I’m most productive when I block out my time,  devoting a chunk to really focused work and then taking a break. I use Google’s built in timer to do this. How? Type “set timer 45 minutes” into a Google search bar and up pops a timer, set for 45 minutes. (Or whatever length you choose.) I then hit the full screen button and all online distractions are blocked out, making it easier for me to focus on my work.  

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Use OK Google.  Install the Google Voice Search Hotword extension. Open a new tab in Chrome, say “Ok Google” followed by your search term. Like magic, results appear. While not perfect (it’s still in beta), I’ve found Google understands my southern drawl and results are quite accurate.

Ctrl/Command +F. Okay, perhaps not lesser-known but it bears repeating. You’re using Google Scholar to research a key issue in a case.  Hit CTRL (or Command) + F to view all instances of a word or phrase in the document or webpage. An invaluable time saver.

Gmail Shortcuts. I have too many favorites to mention them all individually. Go here to peruse and figure out which shortcuts are most relevant to your email workflow. One favorite: Ctrl+Shift+c  [Command+Shift+c for Macs) to add cc: recipients. I use it multiple times daily.

Canned Responses. The single biggest email timesaver for me is this Gmail Labs add-on. You can save canned copy and insert it into any email, at any time, simply by choosing from your saved Canned Responses. My favorite use: email disclaimers. You don’t need the 250-word disclaimer in the email to a friend scheduling lunch. Save it as a Canned Response and add it only when it’s relevant and necessary (which is much less often than you think). I also have Canned Responses for general instructions that I give to clients about processes and documents I use regularly. The time I save is extraordinary. This helpful tutorial walks you through how to enable Canned Responses, and how to create and use them, as well. 

What Google tools are in your tech toolbox?

tech, productivity, + an agile practice

The following post originally appeared on the MyCase blog, thanks to a kind invitation from Niki Black. It’s the first in a series that I’ll be publishing here about the ins-and-outs of an agile practice.

An inconvenient truth: technology doesn’t improve productivity. It won’t make you more efficient, successful, or happy. What it can do is help you create a workflow (or even a lifestyle) that enables your productivity, efficiency, success, and happiness.

It’s taken me 16 years in law practice to figure it out, but I’ve finally created a tech-rich workflow that really supports my productivity.

I call it my “agile practice,” in part because I’ve cherry-picked elements of agile methodology that fit into a modern-day law practice. Why agile? Because lawyers spend a lot of time putting out fires instead of working our to-do lists. Not me. Not anymore. An agile system accommodates the fires. Allowing me to stay on track, do more good work, in less time.

How? By following the core principles of productivity, and adding technology only if it supports the principles.  Start with these four:

Eat the frog. This simply means do the most important thing first, no matter how much you don’t want to, every day. If you do this, then it’s much less likely that you’ll be derailed by the unexpected or urgent. As well, it’s motivating to check that important thing off your list. Supporting tech: I currently use Workflowy, a simple and ubiquitous app, to manage my to-do list. The frog is always at the top.

Touch it once. When something (an email, a phone call, a task) appears in front of you, your goal is to touch it only once (or twice, at most). The order of action: (1) do it; or (2) file it away for doing at a specific time; or (3) delegate it. If (2) is the action, then touch it only once at the appointed time. Supporting tech: especially if you’re delegating tasks, a web-based app such as Trello or the collaboration features built into MyCase support this principle masterfully.

No multitasking. You can’t do two (or more) things concurrently and expect to do any of them well. In fact, trying to multitask can sap up to 40% of your productivity. So stop. At the end of each day, create your list of work to be done the following day, ideally arranged from most to least important. Then start doing the work, once step at a time. Supporting tech: here, the goal is to put down the tech while you focus on the work in front of you. But technology can also help you do this – try one of these 10 apps that fight distraction and support concentration.

Email management. Technology and principle are inextricably linked here. Managing email, instead of allowing it to manage you, is crucial for setting up a productive workflow. Simple steps: don’t work with your email open all day; check email only at set times during the day; reply immediately if doing so will take two minutes or less; get email out of the inbox once you’ve acted on it. Supporting tech: I use Boomerang to set automatic reminders for responding to email (or to remind me if someone has failed to respond to my email). Inbox zero is an unattainable myth, but with Boomerang I can keep my inbox under control.

Some final words of advice: If you spend more time trying to make the tech work, or fit in your desired workflow, ditch it. And don’t adopt new tech unless it truly solves a problem you’re having.

this is pretty amazing.

I’ve used many methods to access my computers remotely. VPN clients, TeamViewer, LogMeIn, GoToMyPC — and most of the other ways mentioned here.

I didn’t like any of them. For various reasons. Typically I simply need to get into my home iMac to find an image that I downloaded there but forgot to put in a Dropbox or Box folder. Or, even more likely, I want to browse through a few files to figure out exactly what I’m looking for.

Enter Spotdox. This app is quite fascinating. Through Dropbox, and like magic, it allows me to access the entire content of any of my computers, from any internet browser and its iOS apps.

Download the app, connect it to your Dropbox account, and you’re in. Any computer you have configured to run Spotdox.

When you log in to Spotdox (either online or via its app), you’ll see all computers that are currently on and logged into Spotdox and Dropbox. Click on a computer, and you have instant access to all of its files. You can browse, view and copy files to Dropbox from within the Spotdox window.

Lawyers are worried about security, of course. Here’s what Spotdox has to say on that topic:

To make sure you are the only one accessing your Mac you must be logged into Dropbox on both the device you are browsing from, and the Mac you are accessing. On top of this you have the ability to add a unique password to each and every Mac. For even more security Spotdox also supports Dropbox two-factor authentication.

On the iOS client app, security is further enhanced. Data between your iPhone/iOS device and your Mac is all encrypted using the OS X password you supply. We have no knowledge of or access to this password.

Privacy

Spotdox has a database that contains the minimum amount of information required to run our service. For instance, our database does not store passwords in any form – even hashed. We also do not store any access tokens in our database. We use industry standard protection mechanisms to protect our database.

While you are browsing your files we need to hold onto your directory listings and thumbnail images for a few minutes, this information is not stored permanently, and is only accessible by you.  We do not share any personal information collected with anyone. When browsing from iOS devices, even this information is encrypted.

We don’t even require an email address to use our services.

You can find terms of service here.

After a free test-drive, here’s what Spotdox costs:

I’m intrigued by this app. I’ve used it a few times in the past week to find some files that I needed on a remote computer, copy them to Dropbox, and access them easily. I like this convenience.

If you give it a go, let me know what you think.