Take Charge of Your Workflow


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.

Email, Facebook, Twitter, a BlackBerry, iPhone, etc., are all distractions that can make getting work done impossible. Granted, I think social media is a good marketing tool. But that does not require constant usage. Tune in to what you need to get done by tuning out everything else.

Eliminate Distractions

If you need to work on your website, or write a blog post, then close everything else. The common urge is that whatever you are not doing is more important then what you are doing. In today’s distraction-filed society, however, that results in never actually accomplishing anything.

To the best of your ability, eliminate unnecessary distractions. You do not need two monitors so that you can always monitor your email. Tweetdeck does not need to display pop-up notifications, or even be on all the time. Your office door has a handle so it can be closed.

You will be amazed at how quickly you can draft something when you tune out everything else for two hours.

Take charge of your email

If am working on a memo, I try this miraculous thing called “closing my email.” Going an hour or two without answering email will not cause you to lose a case, and probably not a client either. I am a big believer in client service, but that does not equate to answering email immediately.

Set aside times to respond to emails and clean out your inbox. If create labels for email, that can help matters. Can be read later? Mark it “review” or “later.” Needs an immediate answer? Then respond immediately. Take care of the small things first, that way when you need to dedicate more time to something else, you will not be distracted.

Schedule around your own productivity

If you tend to get distracted in the morning dealing with email, then do not plan on writing a memo during that time. If you like handling emails in the morning, then plan on doing that, and stick to your schedule.

(photo: underminingme)


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  • Just want to share a resource for those of you whose companies/workplaces are blocking or threatening to block employee access to social media apps. There’s a good whitepaper on the subject, it’s called “To Block or Not. Is that the question?”


    It has lots of insightful and useful information about identifying and controlling Enterprise 2.0 apps (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, SharePoint, etc.)

    Pass it along to the IT Dept.

  • Thanks for this. It’s essential to put social media into the context of productivity and overall time management. As you rightly point out, there are a lot of social marketing activities that seem to require continual attention, care and feeding.

    Social media is like a ringing telephone — you don’t have to answer every call.

  • Randall Ryder

    Social media (including blogs) certainly have their place, but if they are the focus of your day, where is your focus?

  • I think it is too broad a generalization to say that turning off your e-mail will not lose a case or a client. It is very practice-area specific. In fact, I did lose a potential client several weeks ago because I did not get back to the contact fast enough. Some attorneys‘ practices (like mine) are driven by client crises. If you’re not there when the client needs you, you’re not going to keep the client. The client expects you to get your drafting done and be available to respond to their e-mails.

    I believe in setting boundaries, but each lawyer has to find the mix that is right for them.

  • Randall Ryder

    @ Eric – I agree – that probably is too broad of a generalization. That said, if a client can reach you via phone, even if your email is off, I think that would solve that issue.