Unburden your Mind

scrtachnotesWe’re all humans, and we think differently to computers (well most of us do). We remember “events” like meeting someone, a phone call, a thought. We don’t naturally break these down into fields that software applications prompt us for. So we scribble these thoughts down somewhere (or “try” to remember them) and avoid the computer until we have enough time to deal with its pedantic user interface.

We recently engaged an independent “User Experience” (UX) expert to interview current and prospective clients to find out what they really expect from a practice management system.  When asked what they wanted to see when they log into their practice management system each day, two answers came through loud and clear:

  1. I need to record what I’ve been doing“, and
  2. I want to see what’s happened since I last logged in“.

I need to record what I’ve been doing

This makes sense, but as we dug deeper we saw that there was a mismatch between how the user wanted to get things off their mind and how software applications typically ask for it.  The user may recall an event as:

Phone call with Mary Evans. Purchase of new business may affect their estate plan.  Asked her to email me the details and then we’ll arrange a meeting


For the software to work properly the user needs to break this down into discreet items, such as

  • Locate the Evans matter (or create one if it doesn’t exist)
  • Check/update Mary Evans’s contact details
  • Record some billable time for the phone call
  • Check the calendar for a potential meeting next week and invite Mary
  • Add a file note and follow-up task.

This would be all well and good if this was the only thing that the user has to do but typically they have several thoughts backed up.  All the user wants to do right now is make a note of these thoughts before they forget and then move on.  They can come back to them later when time permits.

So we created the “Scratch Pad”


The Scratch Pad is a no-questions-asked place to dump your thoughts and deal with them later. Set a reminder if you want and then forget it.  And it’s your personal space – other users can’t access it.

Shortly we will be adding features like being able to select text from the notes and right-clicking to give you a menu of actions you can take, like “create task”, “add to calendar”, “record time”, etc. We’re also looking at integrating the Scratch Pad with voice recognition apps on mobile devices to make it easy for users to dictate a note and send it directly into Actionstep. So watch this space … 🙂

I want to see what’s happened since I last logged in

See our blog post on Getting Social for the answer to this question.

Free Trial

If you’re already on Actionstep just go to the “Home” page in the top navigation bar to access the Scratch Pad. If you’re considering Actionstep then just signup for a Free Trial (no credit card required).

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