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?

my favorite pen.

I often write here about my favorite tech tools and devices (like this or this and this). Today’s favorite? Decidedly low tech. But we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of a great pen.

Until we can transmit our thoughts via brain wave directly into Evernote, we still need to scratch things down every once in a while. And sometimes writing something — with a great pen— is the only way to go.

Like the handwritten thank you (or condolence or love) note. Which remains the only truly acceptable way to express your thoughts in many situations.

You can also grab a Moleskine notebook, a great pen, and zap your handwritten notes directly into Evernote – here’s how.

THIS is my favorite pen. I have it in black and blue. I order by the dozens. Because I don’t want to be caught without plenty on hand. It’s what all my clients use to sign documents in my office. It’s also a parting gift (not always intentionally) – pretty much everyone wants to keep the pen after they’ve used it

So order some. And maybe order some nice personalized notecards. And do some writing.

[I also really love my vintage fountain pen. It’s beautiful and I always think it helps me improve the quality of what I write. But it’s a lot less practical.]