This is the second post in my series on how law firms can get more out of G Suite. My last post provided an overview of the topics this series will address. I decided to discuss how lawyers could better leverage Google’s productivity software after receiving several requests to write on the topic. These requests came from those who had read my earlier discussion on why attorneys should use G Suite instead of Microsoft Office. In this post I’ll look at how using Google Keep, a note keeping app, can take your life from looking like this:
to a situation which looks more like this:
Let’s get to it.
Google Keep is a “quick note” application from the big G. It bears some similarities to the “notes” app on iOS. It displays notes in a “post it” or card style format and includes several features. Let’s look at why it’s good for a G Suite user to utilize Keep and how to go about doing so.
Attorneys can use Google Keep to replace post-it notes
Ask yourself how often you’ve written something down on a post-it note only to a) lose the note or b) forget to follow up on the note. If you’re answer is “I do that all the time” then your like most other attorneys. If you’re answer is “I don’t do that” then you’re probably lying. Keep is an amazing tool for making sure you don’t lose those notes and that you actually take action on them. This allows you to be more organized and to save time as a result.
Keep has some great features. First, you can “label” your notes and view them according to label. This means that if Joe Client calls you then you can quickly take a note, assign it to a label with Joe’s name, and that you can view all the notes assigned to Joe. The handy dandy search box right at the top of Keep can be used to quickly find anything and it will search both the title of a note as well as the contents. Finally, you can set a “reminder” on your note. The reminder then appears on your Google Calendar and will automatically adjust itself until you complete the task. In other words, if you have a note which says “call Joe” and you set a reminder for tomorrow then a calendar entry will appear for tomorrow which says “call Joe.” If you don’t check that reminder off tomorrow then the calendar entry will automatically move itself to the next day and will keep doing this until you mark the task complete. This is a great tool for making sure things don’t fall through the cracks. Now let’s look at how this can be put to use.
During your work day simply leave a browser tab open for Google Keep. When you need to jot down a note simply put it in Google Keep rather than writing it on a post-it. Assign a label and if it’s something you need to follow up on the set a reminder. While taking quick notes on your computer or phone may seem a little odd at first (for those who are used to jotting things down on post-its), you’ll get used to it real fast and life will seem easier as a result.
I suggest using Keep to replace post-its but not for replacing longer notes or paper files. A feature not included in Keep is the ability to attach documents or files. Personally, I think Google sees Keep as a “quick notes” and “reminder” app and not as a competitor to OneNote or Evernote. I’ve written before on how attorneys can leverage Evernote in their practice and believe that you should be doing so. Keep and Evernote are great compliments to each other. The former is great for replacing post-its and quick notes but is not a file replacement solution. Evernote, by contrast, is great for replacing files and larger records but is not a good option for quick note taking. Using each of these apps for their best uses will make your life much, much, much (much) easier.
Google Keep is a great tool for keeping legal research notes while attorneys are writing briefs
Another great feature from Google is the recent integration of Keep with Google Docs. My prior discussion on G Suite dived into why you should use Google Docs over Microsoft Word. A recently added feature to Google Docs is really frickin’ cool. Under the “tools” menu click “keep notepad.” A sidebar will open with your Google Keep notes. This allows you to easily keep research notes, or other relevant information, handy in the same screen as a brief which you are writing. Having your notes on the same screen as a document prevents you from switching windows, from hunting for written notes, and from other issues which waste time. We perform a lot of legal research for the content writing aspect of our law firm web design & SEO services. Using Keep in conjunction with Google Docs is something that we’ve quickly come to love.
Tools for attorneys to better utilize Google Keep
Google Keep is such as simple to use app that there’s not a lot you need. If you have G Suite then you already have easy access to it. From your Gmail menu simply click the menu box in the upper right hand corner. Keep will be in the list of apps which you can quickly open. If you’re using an Android phone then Keep should already be installed. Download it from the Play Store if it’s not. If you’re using iOS devices such as an iPhone simply download Keep from the app store. A final tool worth installing is the Keep browser extension for Chrome, which allows you to save a web page in your Keep notes and to annotate the note.
There are a few other functions in Keep which I did not cover. Given that it’s best used as a “quick note” option, the items above are the ones I would suggest you focus on.
Want to make your life easier? Start utilizing Keep in your practice. If you don’t, then don’t.