By Neen James
Special to the Legal
You spend incredibly long hours at your desk, so to make the most of every day at your firm, you need to focus on creating an environment conducive to work. By establishing a productive desk environment, you are guaranteed to improve your efficiency and achieve more in your day.
The paperless desk: I know, you think I am crazy! But removing all paperwork from your desk will allow you to focus on the client file that is most important or the closing you are trying to prepare for! Establish files for projects -- reference folders for information you need to access regularly; a reading file for articles, reports, journals and FYI documents; and a daily file for administrative, miscellaneous and day-specific tasks -- and keep these on shelves or in drawers. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by paper!
The only thing on your desk at any point in time should be information relating to the client or project you are currently working on. Before you move on to the next task or project, file your paperwork and ensure you only have items relating to the new task on your desk.
Out of sight, out of mind: Remove your in-box from your desk or get rid of it altogether if you can! Keep it out of sight so the contents don’t distract you and so that people don’t drop new items into it without you noticing.
Having an overflowing in-tray in front of you can make you feel guilty and tempt you to get distracted from the task at hand. Educate your colleagues to leave documents for you on your desk, where you will see and either action or file them as they arrive, rather than having them get lost in your in-tray.
Avoid double-handling: Many people believe you should only handle paper once. This is not always practical, but if you get into the habit of making "action notes" on each piece of paper, your time will be well invested. Either write directly onto the paper or use Post-it notes to remind yourself of what action needs to be taken on that paper. This way, you will avoid handling the paper multiple times.
Stationery drawer: Keep stationary in cupboards or drawers rather than on your desk. Get rid of all the clutter and keep your desk clear for essential items relating to the current piece of work you are doing. It will help you focus to remove some of that clutter!
Set up a comfort zone: Take time to set up your PC, monitor, phone, chair and other vital tools properly. Make sure they are within easy reach and positioned for comfortable use.
Inspire yourself: Surround yourself with positive images. Keep a photo or phrase that motivates you in view to remind you of and motivate you toward continually striving for your goals. It could be a holiday destination you want to visit, a photo of your family or a quote that inspires you. Remind yourself why you work so hard and such long hours at the firm.
Shut down: Take 10 minutes at the end of everyday to clear your desk: wash your coffee cup, empty your water bottle, put away pens and note pads, file documents and lock away confidential information. Leave each day with a clear desk and start each new day afresh.
Neen James, MBA CSP, is the President/CEO of Neen James Communications, LLC. An international productivity expert and native born Aussie, Neen delivers engaging keynotes that have educated, and entertained audiences with real-world strategies that apply in all roles, whether at work or in life. Neen also provides one-on-one consulting and mentoring to women on a variety of business issues and topics. To find out more about Neen, visit her at www.neenjames.com/bio or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.