At the beginning of every week I do what most people probably do, I make a “to do” list. Because I’m a nerd, and I love Excel (see previous post professing my love), I make four lists on the same spreadsheet: Home, Work, Volunteering, and Miscellaneous. I then create a separate list for “Work” and break it down further into smaller action steps. Yeah, I know, you can laugh. It’s ok. I’m comfortable with my neuroses. After I break down my list, I rank prioritize.
Then I do what we all should be doing: I sit down with my attorneys and confirm that we’re on the same page. Because I work for a couple of attorneys, I have to make sure they know what work the other one is giving me, and if a conflict comes up, we discuss it (or better, have them discuss it).
Talking to your coworkers about what you’re working on, making them aware of deadlines you’re under, and what availability you have makes everyone happy. Most of all, it keeps you sane.
Simply communicating when you can get things done keeps people happy. Inside a law firm, we all work under deadlines and there’s a lot of pressure to get things done as soon as possible. Sometimes that just doesn’t happen. I know that we don’t talk about that, we push the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day and that we only have ten fingers under the rug a lot of times. Making people aware of your time constraints let’s one of three things happen: 1) priorities are realigned, 2) deadlines are moved, or 3) work is redistributed. All of these things keep the work flow moving along, everyone is happy, and stress is abated.
Don’t make your life more difficult because you can’t (or won’t) communicate your work load with the rest of the firm. Being busy is a blessing (it just feels like a curse sometimes). It’s ok. Prioritize, confirm, and just keep plodding along.