How do you stay organized? I am interested in learning your processes and how you structure your day. I am a new attorney and looking for any advice I can get. Thank you!

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Use a calendar for absolutely everything: deadlines, goals, tasks that you know you have to do, timesheets! You don’t have to mark it as “busy” time but it helps organize your time and stops me from procrastinating. Also, when you write an email that you might have to follow up on, use the flagging feature on outlook. I also make a to-do list every evening for the next day and every Friday afternoon for the next week and Monday.

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I was given a Word doc template by a senior associate who was incredibly organized and it has been life changing.

It has four columns— client, matter, last action (date), and next action (date). For every client matter, I write down the last thing I did with the date I did it, and the next item I need to do with a deadline date. And once I complete the next action item, I get to copy and paste it to the prior column. It really helps me with tracking a lot of moving pieces and continuity.

I’ve now created the same chart for personal matters, with the category (“appointments”), type (“dentist”) and the same action items columns. I throw literally everything into this chart and I now have a nice visual of where everything in my life stands at any given point in time and it feels much less overwhelming. I also have a monthly planner where I throw in important dates and just have space to jot down any thoughts. Hope this helps!

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I recently discovered ClickUp. It hasn’t helped me much since it feels like there’s a learning curve, but the automation of tasks is luring me in. They have templates for tracking hours etc.

Staying organized has been a constant struggle that I’ve just learned to embrace.

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Tell me more…

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I have tried all kinds of digital task management and I find that I ignore all of it lol.

I use a daily planner where I write down my tasks using alternating colored pens (because otherwise I get overwhelmed by blocks of text)

I use OneNote to organize my notes from calls and any open issues/questions. Each OneNote tab is a work stream, each page is the client/project, and I do subpages for individual calls.

Any email I don’t address immediately becomes an item on my to-do list. In other words I’ll write a note on my planner.

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Trello helps me storyboard projects since I’m a visual learner. When I’m done I put them in my done column. I also put rewards for the week that I make up myself. Sounds juvenile but it’s just fun. Lawyers can be whimsical

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OMG I love trello. It works so well for me!

Automate things using support staff. Give clear and concrete instructions of what must be done step by step as if programming a robot. Real deadline is calendared, but then internal deadlines are set for every single step of the process and/or follow ups.

In conjunction with heavy calendaring I use nuanced to-do lists. Some things must be done this very second; some this morning; some
this afternoon; some EOD; some tomorrow; some this week; some beyond.

The beauty of the lists is when I feel burnt out and don’t want to do real work, I transition to processing incoming tasks. It’s not “real work” so I can trick my brain into doing it when it won’t let me do anything else. Further, because there are at least 3 big daily deadlines (am, pm, EOD) it triggers “deadline mode” which supersedes “executive dysfunction mode.”

Lastly, as a fail safe I also build into my daily schedule downtime to do nothing at all.

For my to do list, I use a google/word doc that my assistant has access to and can live edit. Some items they put directly in the pertinent area, others they dump in a holding pen for me to determine when it gets done. This doc has its own screen and is open at all times.

likesmart

Hi! I always make a schedule the night before and make sure to stick to it. Writing down my tasks help me stay organized and on track.

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I have a daily planner, but since we’ve been remote for so long, and our deadlines are constantly shifting, I primarily use ical because it’s easy to move and edit deadlines.

Concurrently, I write down all my deadlines and notes on my ipad in OneNote.

I also organize my email inbox by cases.

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I use the bullet journal method and have since law school. Genuinely the only system that’s made a big difference in my ability to get organized and complete tasks to the point where, to this day, there is a notable drop off in my ability to get work done on days where I don’t use it.

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You really need to figure out if you (1) like organization but cant really do it well, in which case you need the perfect app, template etc that you will find user friendly, or (2) hate organization and everything related to it in which case you want to go bare bones analogue.

In the second camp myself, i do a handcopy to do list every morning and then scribble annotations, new items, cross outs etc on it all day until its too illegible to use, then start a new one. I save emails in folders with doc terms or material info, otherwise everything sits in inbox and i either respond real time or it goes on the list. Stars and circles on the list show priority, there may be a "five next things" sublist denotated by stars one day, the next day im circling things or scribbling a "by 3pm" list in the margin. No rhyme or reason, whatever feels right today.

I view adhd as first and foremost an internal governance approach. My brain doesnt do multistep tasks it doesn't naturally vibe well at all, and i cant just "make it". So i put a really high premium on a few absolute simple rules (everything goes on the list immediately) and for everything else i just try to organize however feels intuitive in that moment on the assumption thats what ill have the easiest time retracing and figuring out what I meant.

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