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Computer Corner:
Using Your Smartphone in the
Paperless Office


By Marjory Harris, Esq.


In this series, we explore organizational techniques, software and hardware that will help you clear the mess from your desk, be more productive, and cut office overhead.

In the last issue, we presented a primer for setting up a paperless office. Now we talk about integrating your smartphone through essential apps.


> Structuring A Settlement: How-to
> Structuring A Settlement: Broker's Role
> Commuting the Attorney Fee
> Opioids & Chronic Pain
> Computer Corner: Smart Phone

If you missed previous Computer Corners:
A Case Management Adjunct
Analyze Evidence – and more – with TextMap
Babystepping Your Way to a Paperless Office
Be More Productive with Office OneNote
Create Your Own Medical Manager
File Utilities on Steroids
Getting on Top of To-Dos
How to Calculate Settlement Values & Organize Issues & Evidence
How to Store It, How to Find It
How to Work Faster, More Efficiently and with Lower Overhead
Saving Graces
 
The smartphone is not just the latest yuppie plaything, it is an essential piece of equipment for the paperless office. There is an astounding array of apps which can make you more efficient and productive. In this article I talk about a few of my current favorites for the iphone. Some of these are also available for Blackberry and Android. Just Google the name of the app and add the name of your phone.
 
Not just a phone, not just a computer, but also a scanner, camera, calculator, etc. To learn more about this amazing device, click here.
 
Connect to the Internet Anywhere

The smartphone can be used as a modem for your laptop. With the iphone it is called “tethering” and currently costs $20 per month. Check with your carrier about their plans.
 
 
 
Keep Up with Emails, Appointments & Tasks

Have a few minutes between events? Read and write emails or review or create tasks. The apps come with the phone and sync with Outlook. No need for Post-its when you make regular use of these functions. For a task list on steroids, check out 2do app. This award-winning productivity app is worth the small charge. You can drag and drop your tasks, sync with Outlook, etc., and organize your life while you pump gas or wait in line at the WCAB.

 

 
Stop Lugging Files to the Board or Depos

You no longer need to lug files to court or deposition. All you need is one small file, as I described in MSC Mess? Tame it with a low-tech paper organizer and your smartphone, and a program that lets you see your files such as Carbonite, Dropbox or Logmein.

 
Carbonite-stored file open for further action
 
 
Search Engines and Reference Works

First check out Google Mobile by visiting this URL in your phone’s browser: m.google.com. Then click the links and download your favorite Google apps. Organize them into a "Google" folder. You can search on Google by speaking, which is certainly more convenient than fiddling with the little keypad. You can download many free books into Google books so you always have things to read while waiting around in court or a gas line. If you need to find something near where you are, like a restaurant or a coffee shop, use Google Places and get reviews. While waiting for your order, you can check out Google Earth and track natural disasters, or dictate something and have it translated into a foreign language with Google Translate.

Then explore the free Dragon apps that let you dictate and search. I especially like Dragon Go, which lets you dictate something like “find best coffee shop near San Francisco Civic Center” and in seconds produces a list with addresses and reviews and links to websites (e.g., yelp.com, OpenTable.com) that relate to the search.

Dragon also has a terrific and free medical app, Dragon Medical Search. After you dictate a term (e.g., “San Joaquin Valley fever”) it immediately produces webpages for Medscape, Medline, IMO (for ICD codes), and drugs.mobi. When I dictated “medications for fibromyalgia” it immediately produced the latest news results. This app alone would be a real head start for reseaching when preparing for a doctor depo (see “Depo Prep Made Easy”).

If you get records through Med-Legal or DefensePro, or use their scanning or other services, get their nifty reference works as pdf files to be accessed in GoodReader. These include the Labor Code, Quick Reference, the permanent disability schedules and tables, the QME flowchart, GAF, and more. Call your customer care rep for these files.
 
DragonGo

Dragon Medical Search
 
The HP 12C Classic Calculator

No need to take your 12C with you and risk losing this valuable and expensive essential piece of equipment. It is available as an app for iphone.
 

 
 
Scanning and Printing on the Go

Your smartphone is also a scanner. There are several good scanning apps that let you scan documents, business cards, receipts, barcodes. If the copy machines are broken, this comes in very handy. You can also use your smartphone to send documents to a printer, should there be a wireless printer within range. If you have a portable wireless printer, you can retrieve documents from your office computer or server through your logmein or other account, and then get it printed. Read more about this on Apple’s website.

You can also send faxes from your smartphone using different fax services.

If a copier isn’t working, and the judge needs a document, consider scanning with the phone, then faxing to the board’s fax machine. To learn more about scanner apps for smartphones, click here.
 

 
 
Walking and Talking

Get the free Dragon Dictation (previously DragonDictate) and dictate your thoughts into your phone. You will see the text transcribed with amazing accuracy in a few seconds. By clicking on the copy command, you can insert the text into other apps, emails, and tasks.
 

 
 
Taking Notes & Adding To-Dos

There are many smartphone note taking apps and systems, including the ever popular Evernote which lets you link all your computers and phones, so no matter where you add a note or clipping, you can find it in one place later, your Evernote account. For ideas on how to use this program, go here and get inspired.

Another great note app is Simplenote. To learn more and get inspired, read this. I like to dictate into the free Dragon Dictation app, then paste it into Simplenote. Later I can copy and paste notes into letters, emails, or whatever.
 

 
 
Some Must-Have Utilities

Snippets is a clipboard manager that lets you copy and paste frequently used phrases, passwords, web addresses or anything else you do not want to retype over and over. It comes with a bunch of ready to use items but is easy to customize.

Read it later lets you mark web pages on desktop or smartphone using “bookmarklets,” which save pages to your reading list. As time permits, you can read what you marked. Or you can just play your favorite games, a few of which follow.

 

 
 
Idling and Venting

Are you waiting seemingly endlessly while your opponent reviews their file or tries to reach someone with authority? Or just waiting in line for the judge to approve your documents? Try these games – with the sound off of course – to vent your rage or let off steam:

Angry Birds: You can get this free, but for the cost of a cup of cappuccino, you can get some $.99 enhancements that remove ads, get you away from impossible situations, or provide "walk-throughs" when you are stuck. Like morning coffee, this can be addictive and wiring, so proceed with caution.

Pocket Frogs: Like Angry Birds, this is an addictive game that requires some motor skill with your fingers and strategy as you hop around the lily pond zapping flies, mating or racing your frogs, seeking awards, responding to requests, etc. Eventually you can end up with one glass chroma frog for each species, which will make breeding easier for fulfilling requests and getting awards.

Tetris: this old favorite is available as an app, with a lot more bells and whistles than the original game.

Solitaire: no need for Xanax when you can play solitaire. My favorite game is "Baker's Game" which is also on my office and laptop computers.

 
Angry Birds

Pocket Frogs

 
 
Some Parting Thoughts

There are thousands of apps out there, especially for the iPhone. It is easy to get overwhelmed and end up with a disorganized mess. You can logically order your apps in labeled folders, such as "Utilities" or "Legal References" with 12 apps in each folder (see screenshot in sidebar).

Keep the charger handy – a dead battery means a return to paper (pads or Post-its) and defeats efforts to run a paperless office. To prolong battery life, read these handy tips.

Lastly, if you are still lugging that bulging litigation case, do not forget to get a flashlight app to let you peer into its dark depths while you are frantically searching for a document or a pen.

 
Organize apps into well-labeled folders – each can hold 12 apps
 
Marjory Harris began practicing law in 1974 as a defense attorney and later became an applicant's attorney and a certified specialist. She continues to represent injured workers at the San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and San Bernardino venues and mentors attorneys on big cases.

Reach Marjory at (888) 858-9882 or email to MHarrisLaw@verizon.net www.workerscompensationcalifornia.com

> Send in your tips for office organization or requests for solutions to office problems.