IndyBar: Four Productivity Tips to Turn Your Resolution into Reality

By Helen Geib, Hoover Hull Turner LLP

Are you among the millions of Americans who’ve resolved to be more productive in 2022? The key to success is translating the intention into specific actionable steps. Since making the productivity resolution myself some years ago, I’ve gleaned many useful tips from business self-help books and engaged in plenty of trial and error. Following these four practices has made a real difference in my productivity.

Write descriptive email subject lines. Managing email consumes an inordinate amount of time. One culprit is uninformative subject lines that force you to read the message to know what it’s about. By contrast, a quick glance at a descriptive subject line tells you if the message falls into the category of “read now,” “can wait” or “delete without reading.” A good subject line makes searching easier too.

Start with the client/matter or comparable descriptor followed by a cogent description of the topic. When you hit reply, edit the subject line to add missing information. Update the subject line when the topic changes midstring.

Follow the two-minute rule. If a task will take less than two minutes to complete, just do it. Of all the productivity hacks I’ve tried this was the easiest to implement, but don’t discount it because it’s simple. You’ll be surprised how much time and mental energy you save when you don’t have to keep track of lots of little tasks.

Gather the materials you need before you start. From engagement letter to appellate brief and everything in between, legal writing demands focused concentration. Every time we’re interrupted, it takes time to reenter writing mode. There’s one kind of interruption that’s self-inflicted, and therefore avoidable: stopping to look things up.

Writing takes less time overall and is more rewarding when your supporting materials are at your fingertips before you start typing. If (when) you realize there’s a citation you don’t have, then leave a blank to fill in later after you complete the first draft.

Turn off (nearly all) notifications and alerts. Constant electronic interruptions are death to productivity. My number one tip is to reduce notifications and alerts as much as you possibly can.

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