Advice · Legal Career

Office Organization

Clutter makes me scream. 

I can’t do clutter at home, and I certainly can’t do clutter at work. My job demands that I’m on top things so that I can make deadlines, advise correctly, and deliver polished work. I’m not perfect, but I do work really hard. In order to be the best I can be, I have to have a system in place that allows me to reference things quickly and keep me on top of my game. How do I do it?

1. Google Calendar. My best friend, in other words. My job uses Google as its primary email and calendaring service so it’s easy to work into my everyday work life. I set up every scheduled meeting to alert me 1 day before by email (or more, depending on the event) and 15 minutes before the scheduled start time. I also utilize Google to alert me to deadlines before they happen or to follow-up on a specific issue. Writing it down and scheduling reminders helps me avoid forgetting, but I also don’t need to expend energy worrying about remembering things. Google alerts takes care of the remembering for me.

2. Strategically named computer files and folders. I have to be able to find things on my computer quickly. The search bar in my computer is superb but naming files in a way that will jog my memory when I’m looking for something is key. I even label folders for my internet bookmarks and keep all of my frequent links on my bookmark bar. Everything has a well-thought-out place.

3. Putting things in their place immediately. One thing I have zero patience for is loose paper laying around. If I print it, it goes directly in my case file or in some other appropriate storage folder. Allowing papers to build up is no bueno because when I do finally get around to filing it, the stack is too large and intimidating. I usually can’t even remember where it was supposed to go in the first place if I wait too long.

4. Excel. I keep a running log of my cases so I know the due date of everything and can make notes when cases need follow-up. I have a pretty heavy case load. It’s so much easier to do a keyword search here rather than shuffling through my case files for an hour. Talk about wasting time and looking like a fool.

5. Sticky notes. I’d be interested in seeing how many sticky notes I go through on a daily basis. They save me every day. When I’ve last touched a file but haven’t been able to consider it complete yet, I’ll make a note about where I left off and what’s left to resolve. I also have weekly standing meetings, and my manager rightfully expects that I can give a quick rundown of the case and the issue and anticipate questions. Sticky notes are perfect to jog my memory before I pitch.

There you have it. 

Until Next Time, Jen


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