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Staying Productive While Sheltering in Place

By Ruth Carter

For many attorneys, COVID-19 has meant working from home. When I work from home, I’m often less distracted because I have no officemates. It is easier to focus in on one task without the din of the office. (You can tell I don’t have children.)

In Arizona, attorneys are considered “essential” services, so there have been no restrictions on me going into the office. Sometimes I can only seem to get work done at the office.

Other days, it seems like I can only get work done at home. At my firm, fortunately, we have the option to work from home as much as we would like, even without a pandemic.

To be honest, my professional life hasn’t changed much due to COVID-19.

I’m as busy as ever. The only real difference is my commute is easier, and when I’m working with my senior partner, we give each other extra space while we’re sitting at the conference table working on a document together.

A Quick Poll: How It’s Going for Others

I wanted to learn about what other lawyers have been doing to weather this storm, so I created a quick survey. Here are the questions and some of the responses, along with a couple of tips from me.

1. What Are Your Tip(s) for Staying Productive While Sheltering in Place?

The best tip I can share on this is to eliminate distractions. Whenever possible, work on one task at a time, and limit who and what can interrupt your work. Here is what some other lawyers advise to stay productive:

  • Before closing down for the evening, make a list of things to do for the following day in order of priority and make a commitment to yourself to do at least the top three or four things on that list. It’s much easier and more productive to start the day knowing what you are going to do. – Dena M. Castricone, privacy and health-care attorney at DMC Law
  • Keeping a regular schedule and being accessible by phone, email and video. – William Auther, civil litigation defense/product liability attorney at Bowman and Brooke
  • Develop the habit of capturing everything, and processing it … List it (to-do, filing, delegation, or trash it). List what needs to be done, how and when, then do it! Then, at the end of the day, review, note time(s), and schedule for tomorrow. – Anonymous

2. How Have You Been Communicating with Clients While Sheltering in Place?

I’ve had a few client calls over Zoom, but most of my communications have been over email. I am selective about which clients I call from my cellphone. I have some clients who I fear would abuse the privilege if they had my personal cell number. Here’s how others are staying in touch:

  • Mostly email because I have children. – Anonymous
  • Phone and videoconference. Videoconference is more effective for group calls. I’ve found group telephone calls are not very useful as everyone seems to be multitasking. – Dena Castricone
  • Zoom, StreamYard, Ecamm and BombBomb have all been game-changers. These video and live video-related services allow me to stay connected and keep everyone engaged, informed and happy. Mitch Jackson, Jackson and Wilson

I’d never heard of StreamYard, Ecamm or BombBomb, but they sound like tools we may want to consider in the future.

3. What Other Professional Development Have You Been Doing While Working From Home?

Fewer distractions means more time for professional development. Currently, I’m working on my content marketing strategy while reading “Content Inc.” by Joe Pulizzi, the godfather of content marketing. I was intrigued by the variety of response I received to this question:

  • Not much. It is business as usual for me. Our firm’s motto is “any case, anytime, anywhere.” Those words have never been more true than they are today. Even though we have been accustomed to working remotely since the 1980s and have a full complement of modern technology available to us today, the circumstances are forcing us to fully implement the technology in ways that we previously have not. It has been a great learning experience, and I hope we do not go back to the old normal. – William Auther
  • We rolled out a new department offering live video settlement and mediation services. Mitch Jackson
  • Way too many webinars. – Anonymous

What about you? What lesson can you share from your experience about staying productive during this time?

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Ruth Carter Ruth Carter

Ruth Carter — lawyer, writer and professional speaker — is Of Counsel with Venjuris, focusing on intellectual property, business, internet and flash mob law. Named an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, Ruth is the author of “The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers,” as well as “Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.” Ruth blogs at and

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