IndyBar: Four productivity tips to turn your decision into reality


Written by Helen Gibb, Hoover Hull Turner LLP

Are you among the millions of Americans who are determined to be more productive in 2022? The key to success is translating intent into specific, actionable steps. Since I made the productivity decision myself a few years ago, I’ve gotten many helpful tips from business self-help books and been involved in a lot of trial and error. Following these four practices has made a real difference to my productivity.

Write descriptive email subject lines. Email management consumes a huge amount of time. One culprit is the unhelpful subject lines that force you to read the letter to see what it’s all about. By contrast, a quick look at the descriptive subject line tells you whether the message falls into the “read now”, “can wait” or “delete without reading” category. A good subject line also makes searching easier.

Start with the client/issue or comparative descriptor followed by a compelling description of the topic. When you hit Reply, edit the subject line to add the missing information. Update the subject line when the subject changes in the middle.

Follow the two-minute rule. If a task takes less than two minutes to complete, simply perform 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 will be amazed at how much time and mental energy you save when you don’t have to keep track of a lot of small tasks.

Gather the materials you need before you begin. From the engagement letter to the appeal brief and everything in between, legal writing requires focused focus. Every time we are interrupted, it takes time to re-enter typing mode. There is one type of discontinuity that is self-inflicted and thus avoidable: stopping to look for things.

Writing takes less time in general and is more rewarding when you have the supporting materials on hand before you start writing. If (when) you realize there’s a citation you don’t have, leave a blank to fill in later after completing your first draft.

Turn off (all) notifications and alerts. Constant electronic outages are a death to productivity. My first tip is to reduce your notifications and alerts as much as possible.

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