Thursday, October 15, 2009

Are You Using Lists to Organize Your Time?

Writing things down is an important step in time organization. It is especially important for busy paralegals who may be juggling lots of cases and tasks.

This helps your memory do a better job and it frees your mind for big picture thinking. Once you have things on paper, you won't worry so much about the details.

There are three types of lists you absolutely must use to organize your time effectively:

1. Master Lists. Use master lists as a ‘brain dump’ where you put ideas you want to pursue in the future, projects you may need to tackle, deadlines you may need to meet, or goals you might want to reach.

You may have several master lists going at one time and you may work off them for a long time. For instance, I have a master list of things to do in our house that is ongoing. As we cross things off, new things are added.

2. To-Do Lists. Your to-do lists have a time deadline and may be for things you’re doing monthly, weekly or weekly.

You might use your monthly to-do list for broad goals, such as ‘locate all expert witnesses for the Smith case.’

Your weekly to-do list would then include 4 or 5 steps you need to take to locate the expert witnesses, with the idea being that if you do the 4 or 5 steps each week, you’ll meet your goal of having the expert witnesses lined up by the end of the month.

Your daily to-do lists would then include the 5 or 6 steps you intend to complete in the week, but spread out on a daily basis so you have only one or two steps to do in a day.

Be careful with the to-do list, though, and limit it to no more than 6 items so you don’t become overwhelmed by all you have to do. A list that is too long may keep you from starting the list at all or leave you frustrated when you don't get everything done.

3. Checklists. Checklists are for items you can check off. They’re ideal for anything you do on a regular basis, such as routine business tasks. They’re excellent for packing for trips or steps that might need to be taken in your absence from the office.

Checklists are used on an ongoing basis so you’ll need to keep them where they’re easy to find, such as in a spiral notebook or a three ring binder.

The goal is to use the right list for the right task. Once you're in the habit of making lists and then focusing on the items on your list, you’ll find that three things will happen:
  1. Your time will be more organized.

  2. You’ll be focusing on important things that need to be done .
  3. You’ll be getting more done in less time.

3 checklists + 3 results = getting out of overwhelm and enjoying more peace in your life.

No comments: