One of the themes of Lawyerist (at least many of my posts) is how to use technology to make your practice easier and more productive through the use of technology.

Technology, however, is not helpful just because you use it. Like everything else, you need to constantly refine your habits and usage patterns.

Blackout everything

A University in Pennsylvania just declared they will blackout social media for a week, because the Dean wants students to reflect on how they use technology in their daily lives.

Lawyers are fairly reliant on email and the internet to get things done on a regular basis. At the same time, sitting at your computer staring at your inbox is not a productive use of your time. Neither is spending half an hour on Facebook, or sending random tweets to strangers.

If you find yourself wasting time at your desktop computer, try turning it off for the morning or the afternoon. You can still get work done without a computer. Read opposing counsel’s brief in the conference room and jot some notes by hand to see how that feels. You may find it is a more effective way to prepare a responsive brief or an oral argument. Of course, you could also always find the opposite.

Shut everything down at the end of the day

When you leave for the day, shut down your computer. When you simply walk away at night and come back to an active computer, what is the first thing you do? Probably try and figure out what you were working on when you left. That is a really bad way to start your day.

When you are forced to start from scratch in the morning, you will do what needs to be done, instead of doing what is on your screen.

Step back and reflect

Shutting down technology for a week is not realistic in today’s work environment. But getting away for a few hours is possible. Take a step back and reflect on what is useful and what is wasteful—it will help your practice in the long run.


  1. Randall: Good advice. I find it’s helpful to clear my desk off entirely at the end of the day, and essentially your recommendation is to do the same thing with technology. When you’re forced to clean your desk off, you have to evaluate where to put all the papers, files, folders, etc. that accumulated during the day. That process then also inspires me to cross off items from my to-do list, and it may also inspire me to add new items. That distillation process is helpful.

    When you’re forced to shut down your computer, a 21st century version of that happens: you’re forced to save certain open documents, close browser windows, complete email drafts (or delete them, or save them for later).

    John Corcoran
    California Law Report
    Author of the Foreclosure Legal Guide

  2. Avatar Susan Gainen says:

    Bravo. Thank you.

  3. Yeah, I think is a very good idea. Besides it helps to continue (if needed) work of the past day from a new and fresh point of view.

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