Tidying Up Your Law Firm
A new year means new trends. While I will not endorse them all — no, I am not blindfolding myself for the Bird Box Challenge — some can really make your personal and professional life better. The latest (productive) trend that I have noticed already taking this year by storm is organization.
The new Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, is motivating homeowners across the nation to clear out their junk and get rid of everything that does not bring them joy. I experienced this new craze first-hand one Saturday morning a few weeks ago. To my surprise, every drawer, cabinet, and pantry in my house had been dumped into a pile by my wife—not to burn, but to be organized or thrown away, according to what she felt “sparks joy.”
I poked fun at my wife for a minute, but I will admit — it worked. Our house looks great. Where had this lady been my whole life? Kidding. Kind of.
There really is something to it. Being organized reduces a lot of the stress that we encounter in our professional lives. Legal administrators are no different. There is a ton of data and information constantly flowing from attorneys to clients and back again to the attorneys. What if you could have all that information updated, readily available, and easy to find? Where do you start?
If you are unfamiliar with the KonMari Method, here’s a quick breakdown. This is our take on keeping your office organized the Marie Kondo way.
Appreciate the business and industry
You may get some funny looks if you meditate on your appreciation like Marie Kondo, so you do not have to go that far. However, be happy with the success of your law firm business. Put your professional life into perspective and have gratitude for the business and clients that you have. With the amount of time you spend in the office, reacquainting yourself with appreciation for your workplace is a simple but great first step in office organization.
Understand all the data that you have
If you are like the rest of us and have not been blessed with natural organization skills, do like Marie Kondo says and throw all your clothes (data) into a proverbial pile. Billings, payments, calendars, tasks, appointments, contacts, time entries, documents, notes, emails… the list goes on and on. Note the importance of each and this understanding will help you stay organized from here on out.
It doesn’t spark joy? Throw it out.
You have realized the importance about all the data you have. Next, Marie would have you keep items that spark joy and throw the rest out. Easier said than done. You never know when you are going to need that information for certain clients or the attorneys in the office. So even if those books, papers, or files do not spark your joy, it is probably safe to say that you should not just throw them out. (We can not blame you for wanting to sometimes though.) Instead of removing them, organize your files by client, case, and matter. It will make the data seem more manageable when everything has a designated place. Plus, you will minimize your stress and you will be prepared when a client comes asking for a specific bill from 10 years ago. Win-win.
One category (work zone) at a time
Overwhelmed? Focus on one work zone of tidying at a time: papers, books, pens, and other office supplies. If you are drowning in a sea of paperwork on your desk, I suggest starting there. Use folders, binders, storage containers, dividers, whatever you need to clear off your desk. Wake your books up and put them back on the shelf. You would be surprised just how much more focused you can be if you do not have a thousand cases staring at you in your work space.
I am sure we are all guilty of having a plethora of pens; select a few that spark joy — the comfortable, reliable ones — and keep them neatly stored. Just like organizing data files, organizing each area of your work space and making the appropriate equipment and supplies readily available in that area will decrease stress and increase productivity. Marie explains, by clearing your space, you do more than just save time and money. You raise your self-esteem and shift your energy. You will be in a better place to reach your full potential.
Get everyone involved
We are all susceptible to new trends. Why not take part in one that transforms your potential? Others will notice and follow suit when you have newfound work efficiency. Not only will your peers notice the physical transformation of your work space, but attorneys and other law firms will take note and will want to be a part of the tidying revolution. Trust me, it’s contagious.
Need help with organizing? You’re not alone.
My final tip: Work with the tools that are available to you. Law firms everywhere are using practice management software to better their business of law.
PCLaw | Time Matters™ has a portfolio of law firm practice management software that makes it possible to organize all your case, matter, and financial data.