Digitize your life with Evernote’s “Paperless Challenge”


When I want to find something stored in “My Documents” on my Windows machine, I have to open and close a lot of documents to find the one that has what I’m looking for. When I want to find something stored in Evernote, I rely on its ability to search through the entirety of those documents to find what I need. Very fast, very accurate.

Finding something in paper files are even more challenging, of course, and that’s one of the reasons so many people are “going paperless.”

If you’d like to join the crowd, Evernote is conducting a “Paperless Challenge” to help you. It started January 8 but there’s no reason why you can’t get started right now. Make sure you download Jaime Rubin’s “Paperless Challenge Checklist” to use as a guide.

Lifehacker just posted a comprehensive article, “How I Went Completely Paperless in Two Days.” I think two days is a bit ambitious for most attorneys due to the amount of paper in our possession, questions about security issues, and our innate resistance to change, but even if it takes two years instead of two days, it’s worth it. I’m not yet completely paperless but my file cabinets are empty, I’ve trashed dozens of boxes of paper collected over thirty-plus years, and we get very little (important) postal mail these days. I’m well on my way to digitizing and simplifying my life.

Speaking of security issues, this article has a summary of some of the options. (Hat tip to Robert Oschler, developer of the forthcoming Evernote search client for Windows desktop, BitQwik.)

Finally, my own Evernote for Lawyers ebook discusses security issues and how to deal with them, as well as helping you through the process of going paperless.

By the way, even if you don’t use Evernote these resources can still help you in your quest to reduce or eliminate the paper in your life.

Did you know: Evernote for Lawyers has a chapter on using Evernote for marketing.


New eBook Shows Lawyers How to Use Evernote to Organize Everything


If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I love Evernote. I use it for everything: notes, documents, writing, task management, you name it. Today, I’m proud to announce the release of a new eBook, “Evernote for Lawyers: A Guide to Getting Organized & Increasing Productivity“.

Lawyers manage an incredible amount of information and finding that information quickly is imperative. More and more attorneys use Evernote for capturing notes and web clips, and initially, that’s all I used it for. I’ve since discovered many other ways Evernote can be used to organize the information in my life, and that’s what this book reveals.

Topics include using Evernote for research and writing, time and billing support, marketing and career development, and managing client files and documents. Other chapters include, “going paperless,” “data security,” “working with email,” and “working with your calendar”.

Attorneys who use David Allen’s Getting Things Done® methodology (or want to), will want to read Chapter 4, which covers this subject at length. I’ve written before about my Evernote/GTD system. Evernote for Lawyers presents my latest thinking on this subject, as well as the latest updates to my gtd system and work flow.

Evernote currently has 20 million users world wide and was recently honored as Inc. Magazine’s 2011 Company of the Year.

Evernote is free and is available for Windows, Mac, on the web, and all major mobile platforms. A premium version with enhanced features is also available.

Evernote for Lawyers: A Guide to Getting Organized & Increasing Productivity is available for immediate download in pdf format at OrganizedLawyer.com


Evernote helps lawyers get organized and get things done


Thirty years ago, if you asked lawyers what they thought about all the information they had to manage in their practice, I’m pretty sure you would hear words like “swimming,” “drowning,” and “SOS!”. I know that’s what I would have said.

Our files and file cabinets (and desks, and floors, and side chairs. . .) were bursting with information: client data, research, pleadings, discovery, notes, correspondence, memos, briefs, inventories, photos, receipts, transcripts. . . It was a constant challenge to keep up with everything.

Then, we’d come into the office on Monday morning to a pile of mail, phone messages, and a new stack of files, on top of all the unfinished work from the week before. We had to keep up with our reading–case summaries, newsletters, magazines, memos–and we had to make sure our library was current. Law books were updated monthly or quarterly with inserts (remember “pocket parts”?) or loose leaf pages and sometimes, we’d get the latest updates only to find the previous updates unopened in a box on the floor. We had to insert the previous update first, even though many of those new pages were themselves replaced by the most recent update.

The amount of information in our lives was daunting and we often felt overwhelmed.

Wimps! Yes, wimps, I say!

Seriously, look at our lives today. Not only do we have so much more information, it’s everywhere. In our files, on our computers at home, in our email, and on our phones. It follows us, mocking us as we attempt to keep up with the never-ending flow. Just when you think you might be close to ALMOST catching up, another thirty “must read” articles, emails and Google alerts appear and you know there will be another thirty before lunch. Oh, and let’s not forget text, instant messages, tweets and status updates.

Technology has damned us. And technology will save us.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the information in your life, relax, take a deep breath, exhale, and repeat after me: “I will never get caught up and I don’t have to.”

Because you don’t have to, even if you could. What you do have to do is become a better librarian.

Librarians manage vast amounts of information. They read a lot but they don’t read everything. Instead, they know what they have and where to find it, and if you want to gain control over the tsunami of information that washes over you every day, you need to do the same.

Librarians have a system for processing, storing, and retrieving information. They

  • Collect,
  • Categorize,
  • File, and
  • Find.

They had a system for doing this in the non-digital days (remember card files?) and today, they use technology. You can, too.

. . .if you took away every piece of software I own and left me with Evernote (and an Internet browser) I could run my two businesses, blogs, and personal life without missing a beat.

I don’t practice any more but I still have an immense amount of information I need to manage. After many attempts at other software solutions, today I use Evernote for everything. In fact, if you took away every piece of software I own and left me with Evernote (and an Internet browser) I could run my two businesses, blogs, and personal life without missing a beat. (Actually, I could be 100% cloud-based and use only the Evernote web app instead of the desktop client.)

Evernote allows me to collect, organize, label, and access information (notes, docs, task lists, audios, photos, etc.) at any time from anywhere. My Evernote account syncs my laptop (windows), my iPhone, and “the cloud” (web app). I enter information via my desktop application, via email, and via a web clipper that allows me to capture entire web pages or any portion thereof. With my iPhone (Android and other platforms are also supported) I record audio notes, take photos of a whiteboard or paper notes (or anything else), and enter text notes, and send them directly to my EN account.

Notes are organized via notebooks and tags. I can quickly find whatever I need by browsing or by searching tags and/or key words. I can also share notes and notebooks with my wife or business partners and I can make designated notes (or notebooks) public.

I store everything in Evernote: notes, web clippings, ideas, checklists, pdfs, photos, my copy writing “swipe” list. I’m moving all of “My Documents” into Evernote. Then, I’ll start scanning the mountain of paper notes I have collected over the years and go 100% paperless. In addition to having ubiquitous access to my information, Evernote provides an extra layer of back-up protection. If my computer goes down, my information won’t go down with it. (I also back-up my local EN database via an external drive and via Mozy.)

But I don’t just use Evernote for storage and retrieval, I also use Evernote every day as part of my work flow. I write everything in Evernote (this post started out there) and I use it all day long as (part of) my task management system. (I’ll share my gtd system in a later post.)

Evernote won’t let you jettison your time/billing or document assembly applications and it won’t let you edit videos. It doesn’t create spreadsheets or Powerpoint slides. But for managing large amounts of information, I’ve found nothing better. I’ve used OneNote (and loved it) and before that, InfoSelect (and loved that, too) but Evernote stands in a class by itself.

Evernote is free and there is a paid version with additional capacity and features. Download it and fall in love with it today.

Read Part 2 of this series.


The single most valuable skill for attorney marketing


copy writing for attorneysLearning how to write effective copy not only helped me to build a successful law practice, it helped me to sell millions of dollars of my signature marketing course and other products. Copy writing, which as been called “salesmanship in print” is an important skill for every attorney, even those with no intention of writing their own sales materials.

Effective marketing documents can make the different between unbridled success and abject failure. A change of headline or offer can increase the pulling power of a letter or ad or web site twenty-fold–and even more.

The best way to learn copy writing is to study effective marketing documents. When you see something good, something that’s working, perhaps something that made you buy a product or service, copy the sales letter or ad or web page so you can study it. Create a “swipe” file of letters, brochures, ads, web pages, newsletters, and other compelling copy, to study, for ideas and to use as models for creating your own documents.

(Shameless plug alert. . .) The Lawyers’ Marketing Toolkit is a swipe file of marketing documents for lawyers. It is a collection of referral letters, reports, ads, newsletters, brochures, and other marketing documents submitted to me for critique by lawyers in my marketing program–along with my (detailed) critiques.

Start your copy writing education by studying the sales letter for The Toolkit. Print the page, copy it, read and re-read it. It works and it could be the first document for your new swipe file.

After many years of collecting marketing documents in file boxes, today, I use Evernote to collect them electronically. It’s free and a great place to start your swipe file.

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