How an Attorney and Dad Uses Evernote for Work and Parenting

Tips & Stories

How an Attorney and Dad Uses Evernote for Work and Parenting

Posted by Daniel Gold on 17 Jan 2012

Posted by Daniel Gold on 17 Jan 2012

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Name: Daniel Gold
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Profession: Attorney, Legal Educator
Website: http://www.degconsulting.net
Twitter:
@dangoldesq

Bio

Daniel works at LexisNexis, where he consults with attorneys on how to be more productive and effective by using LexisNexis litigation software. He’s also an attorney and recently penned an e-book, which is for sale in the Evernote Trunk, about ways to use Evernote to be more productive.

I use Evernote, Everywhere:

  • Windows (work)
  • Windows & Mac (home)
  • Android phone
  • iPad

I use Evernote for Work

At LexisNexis, I oversee business relationships with 150 of the largest law firms in 8 states in the Southeast. I quickly found that managing this business was much more complex and challenging than practicing law, and I realized I needed a much better system to organize everything I do at work and responsibilities at home (I’m a dad to three children).

Evernote changed everything for me. It shook the very essence of how I stay organized.

  • Evernote is much more than a note-taking app. To me, it’s a life management tool. It allows me to organize everything that I do in my life — from my work, to my blog, to my e-book, and my life with my wife and kids.
  • I use one notebook to remember everything except shared information. I have a couple of levels of organization. I use separate tags to break out my GTD methodology (such as contexts, things I need to do today, next actions, active projects, inactive projects, etc). I have a major category for tags, such as Home, Work, Clients, Reference, Stuff, etc., and then minor categories nested underneath, such as insurance, mortgage, doctors, and so forth. I use Notebook Stacks to stay organized as well. Anything that needs to be shared with clients, colleagues or family will go into a Shared Notebook inside of the Stack. To search, I look through my tags, or do a Saved Search. Some of my tags and Saved Searches are dragged to the awesome Favorites Bar!
  • When compiling content for a client, I include a lot of information in one note. I’ll include contracts, literature pieces, Powerpoint presentations, and notes where I talked to the client on the phone. I’ll use Note Links to paste a link if the information resides in a separate note within Evernote. A real bonus is that Evernote auto-populates the date and time for me with a single shortcut every time I want to add new information in the note.

  • When working on new business, I send all pertinent emails to Evernote. I review those and all relevant notes. When trying to understand next steps, everything is in one central location. [Learn how to email to Evernote]
  • Note Links help keep me on track when I’m running around meetings. I think Note Links are the key to success in Evernote! I use them everywhere I can.  For example, when I’m traveling for work, I create a master note with my travel itinerary. In that master note, I include all of the times of where I need to be and when. My airline confirmation is a Note Link in this master note. On my last trip, I had a meeting with a law firm, where I hyperlinked the lawyer’s name to the agenda I created in Evernote for that lawyer, which talked about three things I wanted to accomplish in that meeting. Within that agenda was a Note Link to another note that embedded a video of a client testimonial I saved in Evernote that I wanted to show him. Because I’m a Premium user, I had saved the notes in an offline folder. When it came time to meet, I brought only my iPad, and only had to access that one note to know exactly what we would talk about. I didn’t have to go fiddling around folders, notebooks, or my work laptop. I had it all there in my iPad and all I had to do was click on that Note Link. It was “magical” and the client was really impressed with my organization and professionalism! [Learn how to use Note Links]
  • I use Shared Notebooks with my team. This is where I can send other members of my team to benefit from finding existing information, rather than having to spend hours doing repetitive work. For example, I’m working on travel plans with a colleague. I’ve already done the research we need and put it into a Shared Notebook, along with our itinerary. Similarly, while I prepped for a presentation on electronic discovery for a law firm’s litigation team, I did research on LexisNexis to learn more about new case law and about the law firm, created the presentation based on what I found, and then put it all into a Shared Notebook, which I shared with the marketing and branding teams, as well as other colleagues. [Learn more about sharing from Evernote]
  • I scan all of my expenses while I travel, to save time later. When I’m at a hotel, I’ll scan all of my receipts for the day. It makes my life so much easier at the end of the week, when I’m back from my trip and don’t have to worry about scanning.

Evernote for Managing Family Life, and Learning

I’ve found Evernote to be an invaluable tool to not only help manage my family trips, recipes, kids’ artwork, and progress reports, but to actually help my son learn.

How I use Peek to Help my Son with Math

My son’s school gives him these 25 question speed drills in math. I wanted to create a fun and engaging way to help him learn the answers to questions, so I decided to give Peek a try. I created a new notebook called ‘Jacob’s math questions’ and took 75 of his math questions and created 75 notes in that notebook. I opened the notebook up in Peek and Jacob has been loving it. It’s so engaging for him and fun to watch him. He gets so excited to lift the cover and see he got the answer right. Evernote has basically helped Jacob turn his math speed drills into something fun!

Get Evernote Peek


Audio Notes for Demonstrating Learning Progress

My son had a reading tutor over the summer and I wanted to track his progress. I turned to the audio note feature in Evernote to record him at the beginning of the summer reading his book. At the end of the summer, I recorded him reading the same exact book. It was not only amazing for me as a parent to hear the difference before and after, but even more amazing for Jacob! Now, Jacob even asks for me to record him in Evernote.

Evernote for Everything Else

I use Evernote for everything related to organizing my family and capturing sentimental things that I might want to recall in the future. For example, I have a ScanSnap scanner which goes with me on all my travels. At home, I use it to scan in my kids’ artwork. To date, I have about 250 notes with artwork tagged with my kids’ names. They know their creations live in Evernote.

I’ve also tried to go paperless, so I scan in documents related to landscaping, pest control, everything for my dog, my kids’ progress reports, and more. [Visit our Paperless discussion]

Another great example of how I use Note Links is for planning family vacations. I was recently planning a family trip with my parents and they wanted to know where we were staying, what we’d be doing, and have directions to all of the places we’d be going. I pulled together all of the information that my wife had planned into an Evernote notebook and sent it off to them. I made it so much easier for my parents! The alternative is sending an email with multiple attachments or sending multiple emails, which can get totally overwhelming. My mom was blown away. [Learn more about sharing from Evernote]

Join the Parenting discussion and read about how our Parenting Ambassador, Carley, uses Evernote for Parenting.

Are you a father or an attorney? Share how you’re using Evernote in the comments.

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45 Comments RSS

  • Harv

    I’m really curious about:
    “A real bonus is that Evernote auto-populates the date and time for me with a single shortcut every time I want to add new information in the note”

    How do you do that, except using some third party software?

    • RPH

      With cursor in note body click + + D

    • RPH

      With cursor in note body click ALT + SHFT + D

    • Rick Quatro

      Press Control+; and you get the current date and time at the insertion point in your note.

    • Josephus

      hold Ctrl then hit the ; (semicolon) key. That will populate the date and time in any Evernote note.

    • Scott

      If you’re on Windows, then while your cursor is in a note, hit either [Ctrl]+[;] or [Alt]+[Shift]+[d]. More keyboard shortcuts.

    • Ester

      Is it also possible to put a date in the body of the note when you’re in Evernote on the web?

  • Daniel Gold

    @Harv – thanks so much for the wonderful question! In the Windows version of Evernote, all you need to do is hit ALT+SHIFT+D and it will automatically insert the date in the note. For MacOS, it’s a little bit different. There’s no keyboard shortcut (for now). However, if you use tools like TextExpander, you can type “ddate” and the date will auto-populate. There’s also another service called WordService that will allow for you to add a keyboard shortcut for the date to the Services in your library. I’m not as familiar with that one though. I sure hope that helps and thanks again!!

    • Phil

      Dan, I’m hoping you can help with the ‘copy note link’ feature. I highlight an existing note in my note list, right click and select ‘copy note link’. If I highlight another note in the list and right click, there is no ‘paste’ option so I place the cursor in the large window (which displays the content of the note) to the right of the list, right click and select ‘paste’. The note link appears below the PDF. So far, so good. The problem occurs when I double click and open that file. When it opens, the original PDF is gone and is replaced by the note link. Essentially, Evernote performs a cut and paste, eliminating the original data. I’ve contacted Evernote tech support and they’ve been no help. I’m guessing I’m doing something wrong. Thanks for your help.
      Phil

  • David Ward

    Wow, great post, Dan! I especially like what you do with shared notebooks.

    Attorneys are discovering new ways to use Evernote beyond simple note taking: writing/blogging, managing client files, marketing/contact management, and a lot more.

    I’m a big fan of your book and tell all of my readers to buy it– after they buy mine, of course :)

    David Ward

    • Daniel Gold

      Thanks, David!! I definitely recommend folks checking out your site & your eBook as well! Great job, David!

  • Nick

    To insert a date stamp, use: Shift-Alt-D. Works in Windows, at any rate.

  • Martin Harvey

    Alt + Shift + D

    http://www.evernote.com/about/support/3.5_Shortcuts.html

  • Dan Collins

    @Harv- There are a couple of different keyboard shortcuts that will insert a time/date stamp into EN. I use the desktop version on PC most frequently. The keyboard shortcut I type is [control + semi-colon].
    Hope that helps.

    -Dan Collins

  • Tom Sweet

    Is there a date or date/time shortcut that works for the Android Evernote app, using either standard keyboard or Swype keyboard?

    I want to use EN for logs/journals, and entering date/time is about the most cumbersome thing I have to do. I can Swype sentences faster than I can handwrite, and the result is readable!

    • Tom Sweet

      Judging by the silence on the subject, I guess those of us who use the Evernote Android app are out the cold, no way to insert that nifty shortcut (++D or whatever) into our documents.

      There have to be a bazillion people with all these Android phones and pads who would just love not to have to type in today’s date every time they add a paragraph to a journal note.

  • Wil C

    If it weren’t for Dan I would have never wrapped my head around Note Links and how to leverage them for cross-connecting relevant notes (for projects, etc). Now I just leave the Evernote research up to him, and there’s not even an hourly attorney rate! :)

    • Daniel Gold

      Wil – you’re outstanding. What a great comment!! Thanks so much!!

    • Vickie

      I’ve heard of Note Links for a long time, but could never figure out how to get it to work with notes I wrote myself, that weren’t something I’d found online. R-clicking on the note in the notes LIST is what made the difference. If you R-click in the note itself, there is no Copy Link option.

      This tip has again exponentially increased the usefulness of EN to me! And I already can’t believe all it’s good for!!

      Vickie

  • John Beavers

    Great post. I use Evernote to keep myself organized at work as well. I am curious what is the purpose of nested tags? I’m confused as to how they can be used.

    • Daniel Gold

      John – thanks so much for the great kudos and the great question! Nested tags are super helpful for being able to organize major and sub-categories. Let me give you a great example – let’s say that I have a parent tag called Clients, and then my nested tags would be ClientA, ClientB, ClientC. Likewise, I have a parent tag called Projects. My children tags include Active, Inactive and Closed. Nested under Active would be “ProjectA”, ProjectB, and ProjectC as an example. It’s very important to remember that the parent tags are really placeholders and don’t actually have any notes attached to them. I’m only tagging my note with ClientA & ProjectX. Does that make sense?

      Both the Evernote forums and my blog & eBook have other great examples of how this works. Again, really super easy way to stay organized.

  • Ester

    Dear Dan,

    What an awesome post again! Reminds me to finish reading your e-book soon! (I’m halfway).
    Keep it up! I am amazed and dazzled by the amount of work you get done using evernote.

    warmly,

    Ester

    • Daniel Gold

      Hey Ester – thank you so much for the amazing kudos!! You’re so awesome!!

  • roland

    Dan,
    Once i set up a note for a client meeting in a local notebook the only difference is that it won’t sync with my EN website. So if i am bringing my ipad to the meeting the note would have to be created on my ipad rather than my laptop? Can that note ever been seen on my laptop?
    Also noticed at the bottom of your agenda you had written “next actions from this meeting”, is that something you write down with the client at the meeting or after by yourself?
    As always thanks,
    Roland

    • Daniel Gold

      Hi Roland! Thank *you* for all of your great comments as always! If you create a local notebook, it’ll only reside on that machine. If you sync it, that notebook will be available everywhere you have Evernote installed.

      Great catch on my Agenda. Yes, I include a section called next actions before the meeting so that I can quickly jot down those things we discussed.

      Thanks again!

  • diego

    Now that Ive bought your book, what do I use to read it with?

    • Daniel Gold

      Hi Diego – Thank you so much!  I really appreciate the purchase. The eBook is in PDF format. If you’re having any troubles, I invite you to email me directly at daniel@degconsulting.net. Cheers!

  • Tess

    Thanks Dan for the extra tips!

    I love your Evernote E-book and am trying to faithfully follow it.

    Just need to get around to doing all those tasks sitting in the !!Today and !Next buckets… :)

    BW
    Tess

    • Daniel Gold

      Tess: Thank you so much!  I really appreciate the kind remarks! Leverage the Favorites Bar for the !!Today and !Next tags! It makes a huge difference in being able to quickly see those things that need to get done today. Also, by making decisions at the end of the night or first thing in the morning as to what needs go get done during that day and what needs to get done that week (Next) makes a real big difference! Feel free to email me if you have more questions!! Cheers!

  • shailesh ingale

    use Evernote to keep myself organized at work as well. I am curious what is the purpose of nested tags? I’m confused as to how they can be used.
    Evernote

  • Christopher S.

    It’s excellent to see Daniel getting attention for his fan boy enthusiasm of Evernote. I purchased his book about two months ago when I was looking for a good alternative to Nozbe for managing my projects.

    His book has a small learning curve, but it’s well worth the time to implement the Getting Things Done methodology into Evernote. I use it many times a day to ensure I’m ahead of the curve with my obligations.

    The mobile app FastEver was also a critical part of my new method of managing life’s obligations. Adding to one’s GTD list must be painless and immediate.

    Thanks for the advice, Dan. Great book.

  • Grant

    Daniel,

    Great article, I noticed you didn’t mention the merge feature. When I am planning for a customer trip. I start with many notes, any thoughts or e mails that I have pertaining to that trip. Then as the trip gets closer I weed through the notes and merge the important info into one note and save it to an offline folder.

    Grant

    • Daniel Gold

      Hi, Grant! Thanks so much for the awesome question. I don’t typically use Merge (Evernote Knowledge Base article: http://j.mp/AyB6Q7) for planning a customer trip. Often because I have separate notes with different ideas (i.e., I’m meeting with 3 different customers in one law firm and I want to keep those notes separate). However, Merge is fantastic and I use it often to combine similarly related items. Thanks again for the kudos, Grant!!
      Cheers!

  • Tess

    Has anyone else has noticed any issues with synching Calendar items from Outlook that contain Evernote linked notes, with a Blackberry 9900 phone?

    I’ve been unable to synch my Calendar for several weeks and the BB forum suggests it might be due to attachments.

    Before I start hunting thru my entire Calendar for rogue attachments, I thought I’d ask here.

    Thanks for any insights.

    BW
    Tess

  • Tracy

    I think the uses of Evernote seem to be endless. With people especially parents as yourself, handling tasks, scanning artwork and listening to your child’s accomplishments is fantastic.
    I just recorded my son’s job daily list. Just need a desktop job chart now..any ideas?
    Visual + tactile learners will benefit so much from this.
    Thanks for sharing :)

  • Phil

    I recently discovered Evernote and so far am impressed with it. I read Daniel’s article yesterday and tried the ‘Copy Note Link’ feature. I’m guessing that I’m doing something wrong and I hope someone can help me with this. Here’s what happened:

    I have a PC running Windows 7. In Evernote I clicked on a note, right clicked and selected ‘Copy Note Link’. Then I clicked on an existing (receiver) note and hit the paste button. The note link pasted into the receiver note but when I opened the receiver note, the original contents were gone leaving only the note link. Nothing I did could retrieve the contents. I immediately went to my web browser and pulled up Evernote. My PC’s Evernote had not yet performed the synch feature so the receiver note contents were still there but when I hit the synch button, the receiver note content was gone, replaced with the new note from my PC. This morning I did another test where I scanned a document and repeated what I did yesterday. Same result. I tried out the online chat support and the technician suggested I reinstall Evernote which I did. I still get the same result. I’m guessing I’m doing something wrong.

  • Circle Pro

    Quite aptly written and put forward. this is a great blog post. Gives Fodder for brain as well as compells you to ponder. Happy That I found this site.

    • Daniel Gold

      Thanks so much for the awesome feedback!

  • Circle Pro

    Quite appropriately prepared and put forward. this is a great content. Gives Fodder for brain as well as compells you to ponder. Happy That I came across this site.

  • identity lookout

    Quite aptly presented and put forward. this is a great blog post. Gives Fodder for brain as well as compells you to ponder. Happy That I stumbled upon this site.

  • Ignazio Amato

    Thanks for your continuos advice Dan. Your advice on using Evernote and how to better use GTD are invaluable!

    • Daniel Gold

      Ignazio – thanks so much really wonderful comments!! Thank you! Thank you!! It’s feedback like yours that keeps me going!!

  • Scott

    Dan:

    Great stuff! I bought your ebook, which is excellent. Keep it up!

    Can you share your overall “big picture” EN notebook/folder/tag structure in a page or two? I am trying to use it as a template for my restart of GTD in EN.

    Thanks!!

    Scott

  • JX

    Very rich in the content. Thanks a lot.