A powerful tool—you already own— to help you and your practice stay organized, and how to use it.

According to Merriam-Webster a definition for the word organize: to arrange or order things so that they can be found or used easily and quickly: to put things into a particular arrangement or order. Naturally, for most people, it is easier said than done. If you are starting a new practice and trying to become organized, your legal pad can help move along your organizational progress without starting from scratch.

Electronic methods to stay organized never seemed to work well for me, so I made my legal pad work by making it my day planner. This made sense since as attorneys and legal support staff, we were taught from the beginning that “you are never, never to be without your legal pad.” I was always told that you never knew when someone would give you an assignment or would require your note taking skills. With that said, I took it one step further and made the legal pad work for me; read on for how to make it work for you.

Most of us in the legal industry use one legal pad at a time to maintain a record of our work. You can start the organizational process by taking the next clean page in your legal pad and dividing it into three sections:

Section 1. The first section should contain your assignments. Personally, I like to keep a separate page that lists all my current assignments and use this section of the page for the assignments and/or tasks to be done for that particular day. Try to limit the assignment/tasks to four or five items to ensure that they can be completed by the end of the day. I always know my day is done when I have accomplished what is on this list.

Section 2. This section should contain your errands, calls, or appointments that need to be made or done. I list both personal and work related items since our lives intertwine throughout the day. I have not found the need to keep separate lists.

Section 3. This last section should be a running list of what you need to purchase whether it be from a grocery store or a retail outlet. Numerous times I have been on a work call and found myself remembering that I need dog food. The list is right there and is an absolute time saver! You never have to wander around a store trying to think of what you need. You have your list, you pick up the items and BOOM! - you are done.

The next day you pick a clean sheet and start the process again. Give it a try! It is time for your legal pad to work for you!

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