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Productivity apps help lawyers manage time

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Productivity apps help lawyers manage time." My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Productivity apps help lawyers manage time

According to the American Bar Association’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey, 91 percent of attorneys have smartphones and 48 percent use tablets in their practices. So more likely than not, you own either a smartphone, a tablet, or both. And now that you own a mobile device, why not use it to increase your productivity?

To help you do just that, here are some of my favorite productivity apps that you might want to consider.

First there is my favorite to-do/calendar app combo: Any.do and Cal. Both apps are free and were developed by the same company. Most importantly, the apps integrate, making your tasks and calendaring system a seamless, intuitive experience.

Any.Do is a user-friendly and versatile to-do app (iOS, Android, and web app) that is flexible enough to fit into most workflows. You can add tasks via the Web interface or the smartphone app. If you add a task using your smartphone and include the name of someone stored as a contact on your phone, the app will connect the task to your contact and will automatically include a link to any contact information relating to that person.

Another great Any.Do feature is that the Web browser extension integrates with Gmail, prompting you to add an email-related task at the end of each email. The task you create is then linked to the email, so that you can quickly return to the email, should you need to do so in the future.

Cal, the corresponding calendar app integrates with Any.do so your Any.do tasks are listed within the Cal interface. Cal connects with the native iOS app, Google calendar, or any other calendar that you’ve set up on your mobile device.

You can connect the app with your contacts so that whenever you enter an event, such as “Meeting with Mary,” the app will search your address book and suggest contacts with that same name, which you can then link to the event. The app then automatically includes the contact information so that you can email or text him or her from within the event with just the touch of an icon.

You can also add a location and, once you’ve done so, the app suggests businesses that match the location. After you choose the correct business, a map appears along with a navigation button, so that you can then pull up turn-by-turn instructions via Google maps.

If you’re in the market for a voice mail system other than your phone’s native system, YouMail, a free iOS and Android app, might be just what you’re looking for. One of its best features is the ability to forward voice mails to your email. Being able to do this makes it much easier for me to remember to respond to or take action in regard to a specific message. You can also email a voice mail to someone else as well — something that occasionally comes in handy.

YouMail also makes it easy to organize your voice mails. Instead of being forced to store all of your voice mails in one location, you can create sub-folders (ie. “follow up,” “work” or “personal”). Once you’ve done so, you can then file received voice mails into specific folders after you’ve listened to them.

For contact management, consider Brewster, a free iOS and Android app that facilitates contact management across your social networks. Once you download this app, it collects all of your social network contacts along with your phone’s contacts into a fully searchable database. This is a wonderful feature because for those of you who travel often, since it makes it so much easier for you to locate (and network with) your connections who live wherever you happen to be traveling to.

And last but not least, Springpad is a great app for note taking and keeping your life — both online and offline — organized. Using Springpad you can create notes and collect and organize many different types of files — including photos, Web pages,UPCs (of wine, books or other items) scanned via your smart phone, online recipes, and notes or reminders — using any Internet-enabled device.

So there you have it — an assortment of apps to help you stay organized and increase your productivity. So why not get started today? Download a few apps and see how much time you save!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and Director of Business Development and Community Relations at MyCase, an intuitive cloud-based law practice management platform for the modern law firm. She is also a GigaOM Pro Analyst and is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.