I recently had the opportunity to address the incoming national and chapter leadership of the American Immigration Lawyers Association at the annual meeting in Las Vegas. It was a great event, and I want to salute the hard work of these lawyers who, in addition to having busy law practices, help our profession through their volunteer work in this bar association. The purpose of my presentation was to give this very busy lawyers time-saving, productivity-enhancing tips to help them handle their dual workload. The session received a very positive response, so I thought I’d post several of theme here for other busy volunteer bar leaders:
Trackle Your Life
Trackle is a new event-tracking site that alerts you via e-mail of the activities and events that are important in your life. You can set up hundreds of alerts: crime in your neighborhood, your name on the Internet, change in airfares, change in neighborhood home values, news about your clients or competitors, new book releases, and much more. Google Alerts are also great, but Trackle does more to help you track both your personal and professional lives.
Personal Portable Scanners
Portable scanners have come a long way since the Visioneer Strobe and HP Capshare hit the market almost a decade ago. Today’s portable scanners are smarter, cheaper, and easier to use. This class of scanner weighs under a pound, and can read business cards, understands what to do with credit card receipts, and helps organize those random documents that otherwise clutter your desk or get lost somewhere in your office. Models from NeatReceipts, IRIScan, and ScanSnap start around $150.
Be Sure You Take a Vacation
Psychologists agree vacations are a way to take a break from a busy, stressful schedule. Be sure to take annual holidays, plan ahead, and do not schedule a court appearance for days immediately following your return. Leave someone competent in charge of your files. Don’t over-plan your vacation. Scheduling too many things can be counterproductive to a relaxing vacation. Avoid rushing to do anything, and leave time to be spontaneous. And just make time to do nothing. If you feel you must bring along work, laptop or cell phone, limit the amount of time you spend using them. Otherwise, you are cheating yourself and your family or friends out of a meaningful, refreshing experience.
The Two-Minute Rule of Time Management
If you pick up a file, document, letter, or phone message, and can get it done in two minutes or less, do it immediately! If it will take longer than two minutes, quickly assign it a high, medium, or low priority, then add it to your “to do” list. Now get it off your desk and out of your mind until it comes up on your “to do” list again. Try this for several days, and see if it helps you get your work done!
Desktop Check Deposits
Never make another trip to the bank to deposit client checks! Some banks are offering a new check scanning service for small businesses to deposit checks directly from your desktop–no trips to the bank needed. Think of the time you’ll save each week!
Use Dual Monitors
With all we do today using the computers, it is more important than ever to have the screen space to do it: Rather than view documents and websites with one screen, add a second monitor to your desktop to be able to see more of your work in progress at one time. Most newer computers already support dual monitors; if not a new video card in the computer is just a few dollars more. (This tip received the biggest response at my live presentation.)
Keep Your Calendar Open
Keep your MS Outlook calendar open while using other parts of this valuable tool. At the bottom of the main screen right click the calendar icon and select “Open in New Window”. (Another good reason to have dual monitors!)
Travel Intelligence for Busy Lawyers
My favorite sites for making travel easier, more fun and productive are the following. Best hotels for wifi connections: HotelChatter; best city information and hotel reviews: TripAdvisor; best restaurant recommendations: Chowhound; cheapest brand-name car rentals (and one of the funniest names: RentalCarMomma; best seats on an airplane: SeatGuru; lowest fare finder: Kayak.