How To Plan Your Day and Be Organized


This is how I do it!!!!!

Who knew that it would take me so long to figure out how to get some control of my days. I say some because complete control of my day when there are so many moving parts is but a dream. No sooner do I think I have some control and everything is going smoothly when …. Well you know….. For some time I considered and even attempted to use two planners. For me this was more trouble that it was worth it. For you it may work and if you want to test it and need some help, let me know I will give you templates and show you how I organized my work planner. As I said, for me two planners are not a solution. After, all, I am one person, I have one life therefore I need one planner. Carrying two planners around or having to sync two planners became a hassle. Things started falling through the cracks. I found found myself playing catch up all the time because I hadn’t checked one planner against the other.

Fast forward a few planners and planner a few planner hacks and this is how I plan my days today ….. happy to report it’s been working. I will say that I’m still working through some project management issues and testing applications for project management but for my day to day planning and organizing I use my Filofax Malden in purple.

I only keep monthly pages (month on two pages) and daily pages (day on two pages).  I carry the full year in my monthly pages because I use that for forward planning but I only carry the current month on my daily pages for now.  Depending on where I land for the project management issue that may be changing…. Stay tuned for further developments.   My daily pages are my EVERYTHING. I plan on those, I track on those and sometimes I journal on those (short one liners) or at least I make sure I write down one thing for which I’m thankful that day. I keep both work and personal schedules and plans on the daily pages but keep them separate by designating one side of my right page for work and one side of the same page for personal. When I open the daily page I can see all my to-do’s for both aspect of my life … Same person, same life, different hats!

Color Coding

I thought about color coding the various aspects of my life.  One color for business and a different color for personal.  Although that achieved the goal I was looking for and, in fact, was one step closer to planner peace and making me more organized and productive. That too, was annoying and in a way almost the same as having to carry two planners. The only difference was that, instead of two planners I was having to carry a whole bunch of pens which made me nuts. There are days when I don’t carry a purse.   My planner is with me all the time, it’s also my wallet. I carry with me a black pen and a green pen (I’ll explain the green pen a little later).

I cannot take credit for my current method of planning.  I did not come up with it.   Maryanne Moll is the genius behind my planner peace situation and if you have a few minutes I suggest you go check out her channel on YouTube and her store on Etsy.

So… How do I plan?

Every night I sit with my planner and look at what I accomplished that day and move the things that didn’t get done to the next day. I also keep a running list of things I want to do on that particular week and when during this review I take those into consideration.  If I think I can fit more to-do’s on my next day schedule, I add them.  If not, then i don’t.  I am the boss of my life and I get to decide what I can accomplish.  All the entries done at this time are done in my normal black ink.  The pen I use every day…… It’s a fountain pen and I love it (minus the black fingers once in a while).  As each task is accomplished (on a good day most will be) I cross it off with green ink (which is the other pen I carry around with me). I also use the green pen to add any new tasks that get thrown at me in the middle of the day (we all have those).

Why the two colors? Well, you know those days when you feel like nothing at the top of your list got done and at the end of the day you’re wondering why you’re so tired but got nothing accomplished? Well, the different color allows me to see what was done that I had not counted on having to get done. It also allows me to remember tasks done, no matter how small, when management feels that I need to explain my existence. …. For some of you would imagine will help you with your billable and non-billable time. Hmmmm imagine you use black for non-billable and green for billable time…… Let me think about that for a minute.

During this nightly review I also fill in the left side of the planner.  The portion dedicated to tracking.  I don’t 100% believe that trackers are absolutely necessary, but I am a nerd and I enjoy looking back on my days and see things like; what made me happy (my gratitude), my mood, my steps, the weather…… it helps me connect the dots and to me life is all about connecting the dots. Sometimes, things that don’t make sense on that day will make sense when you have a full picture. Like, why didn’t I get much done that day…… Ohhhh yeah, I had a headache because it rained for three days in a row and I just wasn’t in a good mood.  Who knows….. all the dorky stuff that makes me who I am.

If you look at the top middle of the page you see something that looks like a Chronodex (a time tracker). I don’t have to bill my time …. Yeah, I know!!!!!! #blessed.  But I’m seriously not bragging. Entering time is not as bad as we feel it is. Come join me in my facebook group and join our chat.  I’m working on a few goodies that will help you slay the billable time monster. I have a plan to get training videos and templates on how to bill your time stress free….. but I digress. At night I go through the tracker side, fill in and color all the things that happened during the day.

The outside ring and second ring stand for the location, where was I? (home, office, outside, etc.). The larger outside ring is reserved for where I plan to be…. The second ring is reserved for where I actually was. The first ring gets colored in the night before while I’m doing my planning and the second ring gets colored in at the end of the day when I review the day and plan for the next day.  The third and fourth rings (the inside rings) are reserved for activities.  What did I plan to do at that time and what I actually did. Was I in a meting? Was I working on the blog? Was I working on the book? Was I with a friend or spending time with my husband or doing house work?  I know this sounds crazy and you may be thinking ain’t nobody got time for that but it actually helps me figure out how long it takes me to accomplish tasks.  It’s also a great way to relax for me for to fill in little squares with color.  Like I said, this is not something that I think you MUST do to stay organized but for me, it works and it makes me happy.

For example, if I tell someone I can do something in 1 hour and it actually takes me two do it.  I know that the next time I’m asked to do that same task I can better assess how long it will take me to do and, not only can I manage my time better but I can also give the lawyer assigning work to me a better understanding of how long it takes to do something and aren’t just guessing.  I’m a firm believer in under promise and over deliver…. This little hack helps me keep in line with my goals and keeps me productive through out the day.

For paralegals or anyone who has to bill time, being and staying organized is extremely important.  If you can go through your day knowing what you’re going to work on next and how long it will take you.  You can schedule your day in ways to take advantage of your best time of day.  You can feel more in control of your time and achieve more productivity without stressing yourself out…. and who doesn’t want that?

Do you plan your day?  What methods or hacks do you use to stay organized?  leave me a note.  I’d love to hear from you!

XoXo

 

Here to help you


I love to write and at times writing for the sake of writing can be very therapeutic to me.  I get to put all my feelings and at times frustrations on paper and for some reason after all is said and done I feel better about whatever the issue may have been at the beginning of the post.  Sometimes, as I write I come up with a solution to whatever the problem was.  This is all good but it’s all about me.

The problem now is this:  When I set out to create the blog I was not interested in it being about me.  My main focus was you, the paralegal who may be just starting out and trying to figure our her/his way around the office. The paralegal who has been in the business for a while but wants a new perspective or a new solution to some everyday issue.  The attorney who may be interested in developing a paralegal program or, the attorney who may be hiring a paralegal for the first time.  I need to get back to the original idea.  This blog is here to help you and in the process to help me.

From time to time I will be putting up a few polls to help me figure out where the needs are.  I will be asking you to please interact more with me on this blog on Twitter my Facebook page.  I’d love to hear from all of you.  If I promise to always respond, will you promise to stay in touch?

Stay tuned for the first poll dedicated to the paralegals…. Don’t worry lawyers, yours is coming soon too.  I would never forget you.

Thank you so much for taking the time.

TheParalegal

Time Management


Every paralegal knows, whether you’re billing your time or, if you are one of the lucky ones, not, managing those 7.5 hours of a day is crucial. Yes I know what you’re thinking, 7.5 hours a day is a rarity. Here are some tips that I have developed for the two biggest time wasters.

Electronic Mail
One of my biggest issues is email. No matter how diligent I try to be, the email in my in-box seems to multiply. I try not to let it pile up and acknowledge receiving it as soon as I get it. I have learned that if I just view it and not open it, it continues to show in my in-box as not read even after I send an acknowledgement. By keeping the email unread I am reminded that I still have not responded to the question and am able to, at the end of my day or early the next day dedicate sometime to research and provide an answer to the email. However, as soon as I get the email I send a response to the person who sent it to me letting them know that I received the email and will get back to them as soon as I have a minute. In doing this, I am letting the person know that I am not ignoring. One of my biggest pet-peeves is being ignored. I don’t want others to feel I’m ignoring them.

The Telephone
This can be the biggest time waster in the office. People will call and even though it may be with a business purpose, they will begin chatting. “let’s schedule lunch ” or “how was your weekend?” although I enjoy chatting and sharing ideas with co-workers there is a time and a place for everything. In the middle of my getting a huge project done which is due tomorrow for the committee meeting, I have learned, it is not the best use of my time. I’m not one to advise you to let calls go into voice mail. I find that to be a bigger waste of time. Ok, so sometimes it’s necessary. However more often than not it isn’t.
Letting the call go to voice mail will only make you have to go back, listen to the voice message, write notes and return the call. It is much easier to pick up the phone and let the caller know that, although the call is important, this is not the best time since you are under a hard dead-line. Most people will understand if you ask them politely if you can return their call. I pick up the call and explain that I am under a huge deadline and will get back to them as soon as possible. I immediately write their name and number down on a notepad that I keep right next to the phone. Do not use a post-it note. I have found that the sticky part of the note dries up and they fly away or somehow it ends up in the recycle bin. By picking up the phone and letting the caller know you are busy you are giving the message that the call and the caller are important to you but this is not a good time. At the end of the day i make sure i pick up the phone and am able to give my full attention to the caller and the issue they called about i can then choose to either work on the matter at that time or the next day. I always let the caller know which i will be doing.

What about you? What do you think are the biggest time wasters? What have you developed in order to minimize them? I would love to hear from you.