With so many different options for organizing your work and life — GTD, Kanban, BuJo, SMART, Agile — it’s easy to get stuck and let things continue as they are. Here’s the thing to remember: The perfect system is the one you use. If you want to eliminate the chaos from your life, you can’t wait for the perfect system to come along. So let’s start.
Six Steps to Start Organizing
1. Start with just one problem area
Choose one single area to work on at a time. For example, all the incoming paper is a big problem for many businesses. By getting paper under control, you immediately eliminate a lot of the clutter. Decide where to start based on how you complete this sentence: “The thing that bothers me most in my office is …”
2. Choose an organizational system you know you will be able to work with
Simple is generally best — anything too complicated might become overwhelming. Why set yourself up to fail? Remember, if paper management (or whatever area you are trying to improve) was easy for you, you would not be in this bind in the first place.
3. Put together the items you need to implement the system
Organizing paper might require file folders, file cabinets, binders, a good scanner and so on. Establish an incoming mail center, take notes and carefully follow all directions in implementing any system.
4. Find a parking spot
Decide on a suitable place for items that are waiting to be deferred, acted on, filed or tossed, and put everything in that spot.
5. Do not try to accomplish all the organizing your business needs at one time
First gather the tools you will need, understand the steps you are taking with each repetitive task, and further break down and work on organizing the pile/box/to-dos as you can throughout your day. You’d be surprised how quickly things get done in only 10- or 15-minute blocks. If you find that the system you are using does not address a particular need, make a decision about how to handle that need going forward and add it to your system. The beauty of organizing your practice using systems —even systems other people create — is that if something doesn’t work, or you need to add something new, you can make changes at any point and reorganize as you go.
6. Make no excuses
Finally, you must use your system like clockwork. That is the only way any system will work well for you.
Subscribe to Attorney at Work
Get really good ideas every day for your law practice: Subscribe to the Daily Dispatch (it’s free). Follow us on Twitter @attnyatwork.