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    Why Law Firms Should Embrace Cycles: Getting Organized is One Thing, Staying Organized is Another


      On my last post of 2010, I discussed how the overriding theme I spot in personal happiness, productivity, and self-help literature is getting organized, which leads to less stress and better execution.

      One commenter wrote that with all of the spinning plates he has as a solo attorney, it’s nearly impossible to carve out time to become more organized.  When you have a live, breathing, belching machine of a law firm, it’s tough to step back and take a look and come up with suggested adjustments to your operations, much less execute on your observations.

      To this fellow, I suggest taking a look at the Agile Retrospective meeting, which I wrote about in ILTA’s White Paper on Legal Project Management. You hold a Retrospective with your staff every two weeks or a month for 30 minutes (have them come in early if you have to), and you make a list of what to Start doing, what to Stop doing, and what to Continue doing.  

      At the very least, the Retrospective minimally interrupts the office and forces you to see the organizations and processes comprising your law office.

      And you don’t have to execute all your changes at once.  Pick a couple, or even one, that might have the most impact and free up some resources.  Maybe it’s time to get that easy-to-learn online legal practice management software you’ve been looking at. 😉

      Think of it like you’re backed up to your own endzone and you need a little breathing room.

      From there, regular Retrospective meetings will be easier and give you more stuff you can sink your teeth into.

      However, it’s one thing to get organized, and it’s another thing to stay organized, as all of us who have made resolutions are painfully aware. The universe trends towards entropy.  So does your desk drawer and wallet.  And since it takes so much energy to get organized in the first place, it’s a total waste to let yourself slip backwards towards chaos once you’ve achieved order.

      Hence the nature of cycles. The reason the Agile Retrospective is so effective because it happens on a repeating basis.  The GTD weekly review gives peace of mind because it cleans out the psyche once a week.

      So my suggestion to stay organized in 2011 is to embrace cycles. Here’s a good gauge of activities which will keep your mind crisp and uncluttered, ready to handle to barrage of insanity that invades the small law office on a daily basis:

      1) Once a week: Weekly Review
      2) Once a week: Clear off your desk
      3) Once every two weeks: Retrospective meeting (Start, Stop, Continue).
      4) Once a month: Clean out your wallet.
      4) Once every two months: Clean out your closet and desk drawers.

      For more information on any of these items, please download our e-book, Legal Productivity.

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