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With a busy law practice, it is difficult to keep control of the mess. Somehow, all of your ambitions for a clean office go out the window once the phone starts ringing and the files start coming in. Between catalogs, CLE fliers, bar association announcements, junk mail, office memos, trade publications, office supplies, mementos, and more, most lawyers’ offices, whether they are traditional law offices or home offices, are clutter magnets.

But why should lawyers care about disorganization in the first place? After all, is it really important to have a clutter-free office when you have important client work to do?

Clutter wastes time

Ever wonder where all of those hours went? Probably a lot of it was lost due to your mess: looking for paper files, the note you wrote somewhere, the client’s telephone number, or the business card of the person you met last week at a networking event.

Some estimates say that the average worker spends over 150 hours a year searching for misplaced information. Even “paperless” offices can have computer clutter, making it difficult to find a particular form, template or motion that you know you did, but that you cannot remember where or how you saved it.

Clutter wastes money

Anything that wastes time wastes money, especially if you bill by the hour. But clutter also wastes money because you may purchase duplicates if you cannot find what you’re looking for.

Clutter wastes energy

Feng shui experts say clutter suppresses energy and disrupts growth. Physically, you have to to work around or climb over it. Mentally, it zaps your energy by overwhelming you.

The existence of clutter means postponed decision-making. The longer an item (or decision) stays on your to-do list, the more it drains your energy. Clutter distracts you, covers up important documents or files, and adds to anxiety and stress, reducing your effectiveness.

In short a cluttered office does not support your practice.

Take control of office clutter

Many people have said that once they’ve moved to a new law office, things started opening up in their practice; they started getting the clients they wanted and cash flow improved. Moving gets rid of clutter and forces you to re-evaluate what you keep in your office. But even if you are not moving, you can achieve some of the same results in your existing office by taking some time to clear away the clutter: get rid of anything and everything that is outdated, duplicative or no longer useful to your practice, and organize the rest.