General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

Solo, Spring 1996

Take Control of Your Schedule

by Robin Page West

One of my worst nightmares is forgetting to work on a case--just putting the file down one day and never picking it up again.

As far as I know, I have never actually done this. But becauseI'm so worried about it, I have implemented two systems--inaddition to my statute-of-limitations diary--to safeguard againstdropping the ball:

1. I place every letter or pleading I send out into a"diary" file so that it is automatically brought back to myattention within a set period of time. For example, I "diary"interrogatories I propound to others for 30 days. To accomplishthis, my secretary places a copy of the interrogatories into anaccordion folder marked with the days of the month for the date30 days from the date they were mailed. Every morning, I checkthe diary file for that day's date to make sure myinterrogatories have been answered and my correspondenceresponded to. If not, I follow up as appropriate. My secretaryknows to ask me "How long do you want this 'diaried' for?" if Iinadvertently try to send something out without "diarying" it.

2. I use Schedule+ , a calendar program that came bundledwith my Windows for Workgroups software, to enter all my ongoingtasks on computer. Schedule+ lets you enter not onlyappointments but also tasks. It also lets you prioritize tasksand organize them within projects, and it will remind you, atintervals you select, to work on the various tasks. I try tocheck the Schedule+ software at least once a day just to makesure all my tasks are still moving along.

When I'm feeling particularly swamped, overworked, ordisorganized, I will often make a handwritten list of recentlycompleted tasks. It's amazing how much better I feel once I seehow much I've done lately.

Robin Page West is a solo practitioner in Baltimore, Maryland,and Editor-in-Chief of Solo. .


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