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.
As you begin to hit the books for the new law school term, taking a few minutes to organize your calendar can save you precious time down the road.
You might be one of those people who have succeeded thus far by keeping important dates and deadlines in your head, or perhaps on notebook or even a wall calendar. I am not one of those people. Most of the time management in my life is organized by reminders and appointments, even for tasks that needn’t necessarily occur at a scheduled time. Here are some tips for effective time management:
- Put your classes into your calendar. Once you have memorized your schedule, this step might seem pointless. But being able to visualize class time and see it relation to breaks and other tasks as you begin each week is valuable.
- Set specific blocks of time for reading and research outside of class time. This will help you pace yourself throughout the semester so you don’t get behind, and will help you keep up consistent study habits. Prepping for class should be part of your routine, not something squeezed in haphazardly between classes.
- Schedule time off for dates and nights out (or at home) with family and friends. Blocking off certain hours away from studying gives you some stress-free time to look forward to, and hopefully provides incentive for working harder during your study or work times. If you are planning a short trip or have other reason to take more than a day or two off, organizing your calendar with that in mind enables you to get ahead with any school work and ease the stress of being away from the books.
- Set recurring appointments, even for menial tasks. This way you won’t be tempted to squander “free” time when you know you should be working on something else. I set aside time for blogging and consulting work, even if I don’t yet know what I will be working on.
- Use reminders if you find them helpful. Whatever calendar application you use will probably let you set up email or pop-up reminders. These can be life-savers, but beware of becoming overly dependent (a lesson I have learned the hard way), since there will probably still be times when you are away from whatever device sends you the reminders.
These are simple steps, and are extremely easy to put in place with a simple calendar app. I recommend Google Calendar, which I use synced with MS Outlook. For added functionality, layer in a more robust task-management tool, like Remember the Milk or HiTask (or just used the built-in tasks list of Google Calendar). Of course, none of these suggestions are effective unless you make checking your calendar part of your daily routine.