Some Completely Random Tips on Getting Organized

Members of the TYL editorial board share the ways they have mastered the art of organization. Send us your own organization tips on Twitter @ABATYL.

Love Thy Assistant

My secretary is my greatest asset. All my reminders are also calendared for her. I encourage her to poke and prod me in the event that I am lagging behind on any project. Two eyes and brains are always better than one.

Alyesha Asghar Dotson, associate editor

Those Markers Aren’t Just for Smelling

I use a huge dry-erase board. I list all of the pending cases along with the next date coming up in that case. Action items are written in red and items I’m waiting for from the court are written in green.

Syeda P. Davidson, associate editor

Organized Calendar = Organized Life

I heart my Outlook Calendar! I set reminders to check in with clients; I prioritize tasks; I monitor cases to stay current on developments in the law; and I ensure that deadlines don’t slip. I sync my calendar with my husband so he knows when I’m traveling for work or have a late meeting; I invite others to make sure important deadlines, telephone calls, and client meetings are on their calendars, too. Sadly, if it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist.

Erin E. Rhinehart, managing editor

Own Your Time: Do the Time

I set aside a chunk of time during the day to make progress on any major matters that I have on my plate. I set a timer for an hour and a half. During that time, I close the door to my office, answer only urgent calls, and don’t respond to emails. At the end of the hour and a half, I stop working. Even if the day is swirling out of control, setting aside a specified time to move forward on a big project helps to keep me on track.

Paige M. Willan, associate editor

Keep It Old School

I keep a small spiral notebook—one page for “life chores” and one page for work. Depending on how busy life is, I start a new page each day or week and carry over everything that wasn’t crossed off. Due dates are noted, whether they are actual or aspirational. This technique keeps everything upfront and helps me prioritize what to do with my time.

Karen Clevering, managing editor

While Pounding Your First Cup of Coffee…

I create a daily to-do list first thing in the morning. At the end of the day, I audit the list to ensure that all tasks were completed, and if not, carry them over to the next list.

L. Collin Cooper, associate editor

Organized from Day One

When I am assigned a case, I do five things. I create an information sheet with contact information, court deadlines, and a chronology of events. I build on this resource by adding to the chronology as facts are gathered. As discovery moves forward, I develop a key documents binder. I set calendar appointments as soon as I receive a case management order. I also keep the electronic files up-to-date. These five things lay a foundation for when summary judgment motions or trials come around.

Sheena R. Hamilton, managing editor

A Mechanic Is Only as Good as His Tools

You’ve found your niche. Now, how do you remain fresh and current on the law? Find a resource written by someone knowledgeable about your niche. Ask others in your practice area what the best tools are and try them out. Adopt what works and reject what doesn’t. Try out different tools and unsubscribe from what doesn’t work or what is duplicative. For me, the most valuable tool is a daily, free email digest that collects web resources discussing recent developments in employee benefits. Find a resource like this that is reliable and gives you an easy, one-stop source for keeping your knowledge current.

Phillip Long, editor-in-chief

Some last thoughts . . .

  • Make effective use of news reporting services from LexisNexis and Westlaw. I like to read reports about new cases coming down from the courts of appeal and the Supreme Court. Digests are incredibly useful, and making time to skim cases can help you see if a case that might be relevant to your practice has decided an important area of law.
  • Check your email three to five predesignated times a day. Do not deviate from these appointed times unless absolutely necessary.
  • Maintain a robust calendar and check it and update it regularly.
  • Maintain a great relationship with your assistant, associate, or whoever helps you to get your job done effectively.


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