When I ask attorneys in my Time Management seminars if they’ve ever looked at a mess in their office and said aloud (or to themselves) “But I know where everything is,” about half fess up. The reality, of course, is that office clutter takes its toll on your ability to be productive, and as a result, it costs you time and money.
Yet, many lawyers choose to live with a level of disorganization because they think it will be harder to change their habits than to simply endure the familiar (if less-than-ideal) conditions they’re used to. Or they say they don’t have time to address the mess, whether it’s ever-present piles of papers on the floor or a consistently cluttered desk.
Fortunately, taking a very quick survey of your office clutter and making a few inexpensive investments can bring significant benefits.
Look around your office. Do you have enough storage furniture (i.e., hanging file cabinets and shelving)? Are the units you DO have situated so as to be useful (i.e., within an easy roll or swivel of your chair)? How about the top of your desk? Do you have enough properly labeled trays, racks, etc? If you’re lacking either effective storage or desktop systems, make arrangements with your assistant or office manager to get you what you need.
Or hire a professional organizer to help you set up a system that will work for you. Simply having the right storage within easy reach can make the difference between successfully managing a paper-heavy workflow and suffering the debilitating effects of low-level chaos. Remember, a central component of effective time management is the effective organization of the physical information in your practice.