This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of The Legal Connection Newsletter.
You have probably heard of Evernote, its experienced explosive-growth and become widely used over the past few years by many attorneys. Whether you have heard of Evernote or not, the best way to learn how to use it is by seeing examples how it is used. Evernote is all about productivity. While Evernote launched with a slogan of “remember everything” at this point it is more appropriately characterized as “organize everything efficiently.”
For lawyers, to which time really is money, Evernote is gold. Why is it so effective? One reason is that it is multi-platform; that means you can use on just about any device you have – desktop computer, laptop computer, smartphone, tablet, iPad or any web browser you can access or any operating system - PC, Mac, Android or iOS it matters not.
As a starting point, consider these ways I use Evernote to be more productive:
1. Organize your legal research.
I use Evernote to gather and organize legal research that I find both in law-specific software (e.g., Westlaw) and the Web at-large. I email and copy and paste the results into Evernote and create notes that track everything from multiple sources. In addition to legal research, this works well for simply researching a product or service you are thinking of purchasing. Evernote has plugins for most browsers that allow you to send web pages and links directly to it. For a more sophisticated approach to using Evernote for legal research consider Ben Carter’s article here.
2. Making notes.
I make notes about clients, about cases, about doctor’s appointments etc. I make the note on whatever device is handy (computer, tablet, phone) and then it syncs across all my devices. It is just “there” when I need it without having to think about it. Evernote’s built in voice dictation software and most mobile device’s voice-recognition increase the ease of inputting information on-the-go.
3. Creating and managing checklists.
Checklists are the backbone of any solid and consistent repeatable process. Evernote provides an easy way to generate checklists and manage them. The Evernote Blog provides detailed and relatively simple steps for using Evernote as a checklist machine. To go even deeper on this topic, consider the post Using Master Checklists in Evernote to Be a More Productive Lawyer by Daniel Gold
4. Create to do Lists.
Evernote is my primary to-do list maker. To spruce things up a bit, I use the check-box images to create items that I can actually “check-off” as I complete them. The nifty thing is I can add to the “to do” list as things come to my mind, regardless of where I am. The to-do lists can be categorized and tagged for easy organization and searching. With the recent addition of “reminders”, Evernote for to-do lists are even better.
My short list of Evernote uses is but a snap shot of the hundreds of ways people are using the program to be more productive.
The coolest feature that connects all of these items is omnipresence: because Evernote is everywhere, whatever you put into Evernote is always right there within your grasp. That note you made while leaving the courthouse? It is synced and shows up on your desktop computer back at your office automatically.
Shawn J. Roberts has 15 years of practical, hands-on legal experience as an attorney working with small businesses and the families that own them. His experience includes helping people start and grow businesses, draft and review contracts, resolve employment issues and litigation. Additionally, Mr. Roberts helps those businesses and families protect their assets through strategic estate planning.