I am not actually a techy person. Rather, my proclivity to try new tools, systems, and apps is because I’m a productivity geek. I love learning more efficient ways of doing things.
In that spirit, I want to share some tools that make my life easier as in-house counsel. (To the extent a disclaimer is needed, I am not getting any proceeds from sharing my list.)
Whether it’s scheduling a committee meeting for volunteer nonprofit work or a mentoring session, my go-to is Doodle. While I use Outlook at work, and there’s probably a way to share my calendar using Outlook, I find Doodle really easy to use. As you have probably experienced, too many emails are exchanged over availability, especially if it’s with a larger group. Using Doodle, I am able to send a “survey” of my availability to a single person or a group. Because it is integrated with my calendar, I can also see at a glance what is open for the offering.
For a 1-to-1 meeting, once my recipient chooses, Doodle will automatically send them a calendar invite for a Zoom call (or in Outlook) and block it on my calendar. For a group meeting, everyone is able to input their availability (using mine as the starting point) with a click of a mouse, and I can choose the one that works with the most people. Again, Doodle can automatically book it on your calendar and send it to others for you. Such a time-saver!
For timekeeping, I love using Timeular. Now, before you clutch your pearls, aghast at the thought of tracking time when you don’t have to bill anymore because you are in-house, I have legit reasons, and it’s not just because I can’t shake the brainwashing from Biglaw. I know it sounds strange, but I love having data to drive my decisions.
First, from a practical standpoint, I have been asked in the past by my associate general counsel what I have on my plate and how much time it requires. She has also asked me how much time certain clients require so she can gauge workloads and assignments. Before I used Timeular, I had to guess — and in my incessant need for some accuracy, I wasted a lot of time reviewing my calendar, even to come up with a ballpark. Now, with the click of a mouse, I can tell which clients or projects require the most time as well as an average of how much time they require per week. I can also use this data for reflecting on whether I could be more efficient on a project or with a client. An example might be: am I spending more time on preventing issues and strategy or am I constantly putting out fires and managing litigation?
My favorite part of using a timekeeping app is holding myself accountable. Am I spending time where I want to, where I should? For example, mentoring, diversity work, pro bono and community work, and personal development are all important to me. With this app, I can assess whether I am spending too much or too little time in these areas. Being able to see where I spend my time helps me be more intentional about how I use it.
“I love PowerPoint training!” said no one ever. And most, if not all, training is met with eye rolls. But if there is no avoiding it, we can at least try to make it more engaging and interactive for our clients, right? Which is why I enjoy using Mentimeter. What I love is the ability to use GIFs and memes and the ability to be interactive with your audience through the use of polling, Q&A, and word clouds. While I can’t explain in depth how it works (magic?), the interactivity comes in when your audience members can go to a site on their mobile device or computer, enter a code, and submit their answers to your questions — and the fun part is to see the collective data projected for the entire group. I don’t just use it for employment law training, but I have also used it to create icebreakers for department meetings.
What are some of your favorite apps and tools in-house?
Meyling “Mey” Ly Ortiz is in-house at Toyota Motor North America. Her passions include mentoring, championing belonging, and a personal blog: TheMeybe.com. At home, you can find her doing her best to be a “fun” mom to a toddler and preschooler and chasing her best self on her Peloton. You can follow her on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/meybe/). And you knew this was coming: her opinions are hers alone.