Productivity: My top 10 gadgets
Lynette L. Mueller, RDR, CRR, LC
Productivity is defined as: “the quality, state, or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance, or bring forth goods and services.” As a busy professional, I am always striving to find new ways to aid me in my quest to complete a job more efficiently. After all, who doesn’t want more time to spend with family and friends; right?
My iPhone and iPad are my top go-to products to help me with my court reporting business and are a tremendous asset for productivity. As I’ve written in a previous blog post: “The smartphone has become an essential tool for every court reporter and ultimately eliminates the need for other gadgets one used to traditionally rely on in completing certain functions/tasks to get your transcript out the door. My smartphone of choice has revolutionized the way I do business and increases my efficiency and productivity immeasurably. Utilizing one intuitive device is the preferable and superior choice over multiple devices. In addition, the size of a mobile device conveniently and effortlessly fits into a pocket or a handbag.” The smartphone is, indeed, very powerful; but there are a few gadgets that I rely on when I’m in the deposition setting and/or the courtroom.
1. Outlets To Go Power Strip with USB: This compact affordable power strip will serve any court reporter well in those situations when you need to plug in your computer, if you forgot to charge your writer battery, or if you need USB power. Just the other day, I had an attorney ask me if she could charge her smartphone in my computer because she had forgotten her charger. What a perfect option for her when I simply pulled out this power outlet!
This Outlets To Go Power Strip with USB boasts the following features:
- Provides 3 AC outlets to power laptops, PDAs, MP3 players, digital cameras, and other accessories when traveling.
- 3 AC outlets for convenient power and charging.
- Recharges electronics that use USB with integrated USB port.
- Ultra compact design to fit into luggage and briefcases.
- Dual-side design maximizes outlets space, minimizes bulk.
2. MXL AC404 USB Conference Microphone: I discovered this microphone when searching for an upgraded option for my audio backup. Not only was I looking for high-quality sound, but I wanted something that would sit flat on a table. In Tennessee, we do not have official court reporters in our judicial system, so the attorneys and litigants hire an independent court reporter to transcribe the proceedings. Some court reporters, I noticed, used tape to secure their mics to the judge’s bench which, ultimately, will ruin the finish of the wood. So this microphone fits the bill completely and the sound quality far exceeds my previous one!
3. Logitech M305 Wireless Mouse: I have to say that I’m not a fan of the trackpad. Don’t ask me why; I just don’t like them. When it comes time for read-back of important testimony, this travel-size mouse gives me more control when searching my netbook for that question that was asked 30 minutes ago. I own three of these, and each one is color-coded for the three computers I utilize in my business. I love them because they are so compact and there’s even storage for the receiver inside the mouse.
4. Belkin USB 2.0 4-Port Ultra-Mini Hub: My netbook that I carry to the job does have three USB ports, but there occasionally comes a time when one may need additional ports, as I mentioned above in the situation where my attorney wanted to charge her smartphone.
5. Apple Airport Express: My realtime cables are a thing of the past, and I love being wireless! There are a variety of methods to provide realtime to legal professionals, and I choose to use this router. I find that it is always reliable and a connection is made every time. Using this router allows me the flexibility to have several connections with a computer, a netbook, and an iPad.
6. Square: Start accepting credit card payments today! A free credit card reader will be sent to you when you sign up with Square for use on iPhones, iPads, and Android. The account setup process is quick and easy. As mentioned above, as an independent court reporter, I do work in the courtroom. There are occasions when an attorney has forgotten to hire a court reporter and then approaches me to ask if I can cover his matter as well. In the instance where an attorney is not known to you and you are unsure of the payment history, Square comes to the rescue. You have the ability to swipe their credit card on the spot for the attendance fee and never have to worry if you will be paid.
7. Hotspot/iPhone for tethering: There are many hotspot options available in the marketplace, but I currently use my iPhone for this function. There are a myriad reasons for tethering, or connecting, with another computer.
- No WiFi available at your location
- Value-add service for your attorney clients to give them Internet access during the proceedings
- Use as a connection for providing realtime
- Internet connection for your own computer to upload files to Dropbox
- Highlights your techno-savviness to your clients and/or potential clients
8. Jawbone ERA Bluetooth Headset: For those of us who do not have a hands-free option for using cell phones in the automobile, this is an excellent gadget to try. When court reporters are in between assignments, we do take advantage of the time in the car for scheduling our next deposition, reaching out to other reporters for coverage, checking in with the office and our family members. Safety first!
9. DYMO LabelWriter: This labeler is my all-time favorite gadget. Just upload your company logo, add your contact information, and print a professional-looking label for every transcript that heads out the door. My labeler is connected to a dedicated computer. But I have no worries about keeping my contacts current, because I utilize Apple’s iCloud. When I effect a change or update in my address book on one computer, it then syncs on all computers, so my contacts are always up-to-date and available no matter which computer or device I happen to be using. The product features of the DYMO labeler are many:
- Create and print address, shipping, file, folder and barcode labels
- Print USPS approved DYMO Stamps postage directly from your desktop – no monthly fee, contracts, or commitments required
- Uses thermal printing technology -- no expensive ink or toner needed
10. Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker: As everyone knows, a court reporter’s job is a sedentary one. Use the Fitbit to help you stay active and healthy every day. According to the product description: “The Fitbit Ultra monitors your all-day activity to provide you with real-time feedback on steps, distance, calories burned, and stairs climbed to encourage you to walk more and be more active. It wirelessly uploads your data to Fitbit.com so you can gain deeper insight into your daily or monthly fitness and sleep levels with free online graphs and charts.”
There are other gadget options available in order to help you be productive in your daily tasks in addition to what I enumerated above. I would love to hear about your personal experiences with the use of your favorite gadget.