Ramping Up Productivity With Evernote

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


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.







10 Good Tweets From This Week (11/1/13)

10 Good Tweets

  1. Been saying it for years -> Working from Home is the Way of the Future http://ow.ly/q81nV
  2. Comprehensive article on ->How to Format an Appellate Brief [in Word] http://ow.ly/qeZaf
  3. Will Law Firms of the Future Have Legal Secretaries? @ronfriedmann http://ow.ly/q3oRl
  4. Do you know how well your site ranks on Google [without your own searches in the mix]: http://ow.ly/qazwJ
  5. Legal Ethics and Outsourcing: Just Because It’s Outsourced, Doesn’t Mean You Can Bill for It @carolynelefant http://ow.ly/qiDrz
  6. Anyone but me think the subjects should have  been  bigger and the background less busy: http://ow.ly/qhiJ0 <- & what’s with the 3 books??
  7. LastPass shared passwords are trivially retrievable http://ow.ly/qdk5X HT @LeeRosen #security #legalIT
  8. Everything you ever wanted  to know about  about  multitasking http://ow.ly/pYXIB
  9. Overwhelmed by your inbox? Got no time? Try: http://ow.ly/pYXvs
  10. Launching a 21st Century Law Practice -a 6 part course created by @carolynelefant is free here: ow.ly/pcRyf

10 Good Tweets

10 Good Tweets

  1. Eight Free Acrobat XI Actions for Legal Pros http://ow.ly/p5YVW
  2. If you are in #legal and use a #Mac or you are thinking about converting to Mac, this conference is for you http://ow.ly/p5Wn9
  3. Apple iOS 7 flaws, oddities and mistakes http://ow.ly/p3jEY
  4. Ten things I didn’t know about Google. @harrymccracken http://ow.ly/p5fWD
  5. Attorneys: If you’re swamped but have only mediocre income to show for it, there’s a reason. @JulieFleming http://ow.ly/pgKui
  6. Launching a 21st Century Law Practice -a 6 part course created by @carolynelefant is free here: ow.ly/pcRyf
  7. Breakfast is the new lunch @petershankman ow.ly/pnFST
  8. Five Ways to Use Twitter Lists @attnyatwork ow.ly/pgBev
  9. Can you be forced to use your finger to unlock your cell phone … discussion of law & map here -> ow.ly/pf7dC HT @NotSoAnonymous
  10. How to Make Your Entire Internet Life More Secure in One Day @lifehacker ow.ly/p3vw4

Listy list list list list

Confession: I have a horrible memory. Always have. In some aspects of my personal life, it has served me well – but as a professional, not so much.  So I’ve always written things down.

It wasn’t until I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done, however, that I discovered lists.  I mean, I always knew of them, and I always used them in a jot things I need from the grocery store type of way but certainly not how they are used in GTD.  I’m not going to go into detail about GTD and lists except to say if you have not read it – it is a good book for self help on getting organized.

Ultimately, there were two things about GTD that didn’t work for me:

The first was FAT – File Act Toss. These are your only options and not everything I touched could be filed under one of those categories. When I came across such a thing – I’d try to figure out a way to refer to it so that I could force it into one - which was not only a time suck, it was a  waste of creative thinking.

The second thing in GTD that didn’t really work for me were the lists.

Don’t get me wrong, once I got the hang of it, I was pretty good at lists.  The problem was they weren’t good for me.  Why?

Back when I first read GTD, it was not very easy to sync devices. I’d waste spend so much time seeking out and testing tech – trying to find the right combination to make all my lists accessible and update-able and synced across my desktop/laptop/mobile device. No matter what I tried, it never seemed to work. Again, huge waste of time.

In the end, I was so busy with my lists and trying to get and keep them synced, I was neglecting to do the things ON them!

To resolve the first issue with GTD, I actually came up with a slight modification – I added another category for “Defer”; rearranged the letters and it became the foundation for my organizational system: DAFT Your Way to Organized!

In 2008 Technolawyer published a condensed version  – “Move Over David Allen, A Better Way To Get Things Done” and I’m actually quite proud of how I was able to get the pertinent information to fit on less than 4 pages. ;)

Now to resolve the second issue I had with GTD, I stopped using lists. Seriously. Stopped.

I have and always will take notes and I talk about how and why I use paper in Getting Email Done <-(the non-condensed and non free version of my organizational system) but up until recently, lists had been a thing of my past.

Enter www.bulletjournal.com – which I am finding is to a task list what my DAFT is to email – a simple and effective way to process and organize tasks.

I’m still testing it all out – but I have begun to use my Moleskin as described at the bulletjournal site – part task list; part calendar; part journal – and I’m liking it!

I’m only into my second month – but if you want to follow along, the 1st of the month is a great time to start!

Grab a notebook – take less than 3 minutes to watch the video and start bulletjournal-ing with me.

If you do – leave me a reply/comment so we can compare notes!

More Articles re: lists:

The Power of The List

Five Ways To Use Twitter Lists

Check out the new design!

It’s been 10 years since LegalTypist went from the black and white logo and olive color scheme created in FrontPage (shudder!):

legaltypist.com circa 2003

Website 2003

to in full color (and css/html):

legaltypist.com circa 2008

Website 2008

and I think her latest makeover is just as dramatic:

Website 2013

Website 2013

Not only is the design new – we now offer Digital Assistant™ time in blocks of 5, 10 or 20 hours per month – giving our clients the option to add administrative and secretarial tasks to their workflow for a fixed monthly cost.

Take a minute or two, click on the picture (or use the Home button above) to take a peek at the full site and then c’mon back and leave me a reply with your thoughts.

13 Good Tweets for Friday 13th + 1 for good luck


  1. 13 Legal Tech Tips for Friday the 13th @pegeenturner ow.ly/oQ5m9
  2. Agreed! -> Best App for meetings and discussions? The “off” switch @recoveringleadr ow.ly/oO2Hm HT @sapreston
  3. Why the NSA loves Google’s Chromebook HT @KimHowardDC ars.to/18QC18W
  4. Oldies but goodies -> Six great apps we used to love and use all the time, and how far they’ve come @lifehacker ow.ly/oNQyX
  5. Google Alerts regains RSS delivery option it lost after Google Reader’s demise glennga.be/18
  6. Are password managers safe from the NSA surveillance? @pcworld ow.ly/oNQ0J
  7. 60-minute Security Makeover: Prevent Your Own ‘Epic Hack’ @pcworld ow.ly/oNMKp <-lots of good info
  8. The Future of Legal Technology – It’s Not in the Tech @jeffrey_brandt ow.ly/oMLPJ #legal #legalIT
  9. 6 Tips for Handling Business After Hours ow.ly/oLLDb by @AmsterdamPrint HT @alyssagregory
  10. Terrifying Search Engine That Finds Internet-Connected Cameras, Traffic Lights, Medical Devices, Baby Monitors & More ow.ly/oAkSs
  11. How to Design the Best Law Firm Website @attnyatwork ow.ly/oLA5k
  12. Easier social media discovery: Skip the content @ScottMalouf ow.ly/oJEF9 #legal #legalIT
  13. Good article discussing Facebook and how it tracks logged off users “Let’s Get REAL: Online Privacy…” @samglover ow.ly/oAJnt

and one for good luck:

  1. Getting Things Done “Right” @LeeRosen ow.ly/oH1hl HT @bruckerlaw #legal #legalIT #LPM

#legalchat is back – 11am ET on Fridays


I am honored to be a part of #legalchat – co-moderating/hosting this informative, yet informal, twitter web chat with Natalie Alesi aka @legalerswelcome each Friday at 11am ET.

We start Friday, September 13th, so our first theme could not help but to be centered around the fact that it is a Friday and a 13th …

“Scary” is the overall theme and we welcome all peeps to join in and share your scariest tech moments – or scariest tech you’ve ever seen in use – or what scares you most about tech …

More about LegalChat and how to contribute:

LegalChat Returns Fri Sept 13

3 Ways To Get More Done

Came across this really interesting infographic:

Bring Back the 40 Hour Work Week Infographic
Source: OnlineMBA.com

Don’t fall into the busy trap!

Busy is not the new black.

It’s just YOU, thinking that by being busy like everyone else, you’re more productive.  You are not. Instead you feel rushed all the time, are more stressed and less happy.  Just like multi-tasking, working more hours does not equal increased productivity.

If you need to get more done in less time, try:

1.  getting organized so you stop wasting time looking for things;

2. putting systems in place to handle routine tasks faster;

3. get an assistant.

Unlike this Craigslist experiment, there’s no slapping necessary!  H/T @VBalasubramani

As much as tech CEOs and newly minted experts wish you to believe – tech can only increase your personal productivity so much.  After that point, you need more fingers and brains in the mix; or you’re just the same human being, doing more things … now with more tech.

Don’t have enough work to justify the cost of a full time employee? Look to the world of virtual assistants to help.  That is what we are here for!

While most Virtual Assistants perform higher end tasks – there are services around which do the day to day admin and secretarial ones too!

10 Good Tweets – 06/14/2013


  1. RT @leerosen: RT @LegalTypist: 10 things you can do to speed up Outlook http://ow.ly/eEZ7q via @rodneydowell
  2. If they want to pick your brain, ask them to pick a time and method  of payment. @marieforleo http://ow.ly/lPVnR
  3. Web Users: Everything is different now due to PRISM http://ow.ly/lTBLg @david_bilinsky
  4. This just in -> Any iOS Device Can be Hacked  in Under a Minute @sharonnelsonesq http://ow.ly/lH28C <-charger port vulnerability
  5. The Stupid Things You Do in the Name of Productivity (and How to Fix Them) @lifehacker http://ow.ly/lXn29
  6. The Legal Connection Newsletter – May 2013 http://ow.ly/lI7Lo
  7. Good read:  Is This Worthy of Your Full Attention? http://ow.ly/lBD6v
  8. How To Pick The Best Cloud http://ow.ly/lZC8s
  9. Reading: The Case for Executive Assistants @HBR http://ow.ly/lUIqZ
  10. I am the filter for my inbox. I use a simple system I created for me but a friend needed help w/ email so I shared http://ow.ly/lSO9h

10 Good Tweets – 05/28/2013

10 Good Tweets

  1. Vermont Enacts The Nations First Anti-Patent Trolling Law http://ow.ly/lm8SB
  2. The Legal Connection Newsletter (2009-2013): http://ow.ly/lcl0T
  3. Reading: The Risky Game of Needing a Client @LeeRosen http://ow.ly/l0FFO
  4. Heard at my meet up that these 2 were the best #Lexthink @Mark_Britton http://ow.ly/klB3l & @jayshep http://ow.ly/klBnT
  5. Any.DO is a great to-do app. Here are some of its best features you may not be using @lifehacker http://ow.ly/ljHsB
  6. Reading: Cloud-service contracts and data protection: Unintended consequences @TechRepublic ow.ly/l7VPw
  7. 9+ years of Law Practice Today magazine – all in one spot: ow.ly/kbnIt
  8. 296 Lawyers and Legal Professionals To Follow On Twitter: http://ow.ly/lhgzU
  9. The Art, Science & Ethics of the 21st Century Retainer Agreement @carolynelefant ow.ly/jDBOx
  10. Friday Funny: Got Instagram http://ow.ly/lmjKl