Personal Productivity for Lawyers
This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.
It’s been a while since my last vacation, but my wife and I are setting out for Vancouver. The last time I left town, I was truly solo, but this time, I have an associate and an assistant. Last time, I basically put my practice on hold for a week. This time, I want to keep it running smoothly in my absence.
Here is my pre-vacation to-do list so I can disappear with minimal impact on the firm:
- Clear the calendar. I scheduled this vacation months in advance, and blocked off my calendar, so I won’t have to reschedule anything or try to call in to any meetings from our hotel.
- Forward phone calls. I don’t want to be interrupted during my vacation, so I’m forwarding my calls to my assistant, who can re-route them to Randall or e-mail me for follow-up. You could also use an “out of office” voicemail, but a personal touch is the better option. Consider something like the Total Attorneys answering service, instead.
- E-mail: to check or not to check? Checking my e-mail once a day helps me stay relaxed while on vacation. Since it is my business, going completely MIA is more stressful than introducing a little work. It also evens out the work-vacation transition on both ends. Whatever you do, avoid the out-of-office auto-reply. They are lame and annoying. If you insist on an auto-reply, make sure to use one that goes out only once to each recipient, and exempt e-mail lists. Sending auto-replies to a list is really bad form.
- Have someone check the mail. You may not be expecting a grenade in the mail (emergency motion, anyone?), but it could happen. Randall will be checking the mail while I am gone, so this is taken care of.
- Emergencies. Find a lawyer to be your backup. This works best as a trade. You agree to be their backup when they check out, and they agree to be yours. This person should probably be the one who checks your mail, since they are the person most likely to discover the emergency in the first place. Just in case, make sure you can access your files from wherever you are. You probably won’t have to, but if you do, a little preparation will go a long way.
- Keep your marketing going. Vacation is no excuse to let your blogging slip. Write a few posts ahead of time, and schedule them for while you are gone. You can do the same with Twitter and Facebook, if you aren’t going to send updates from the road.
- Don’t leave work behind. The worst kind of co-worker is the one who dumps a project on your desk right before they leave for vacation. Don’t be that person. Get your work done before you go.
You can check out completely—or mostly, if you prefer—with a bit of preparation.