Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 11

PRACTICE MANAGEMENT

WANT BETTER PRODUCTIVITY?

FIRST, DECLUTTER
By Niki Irish

F

or legal professionals, clutter
is a way of life thanks to the
myriad documents, case files,
contracts, and more that they must
manage daily. But too much clutter
can be unhealthy in trying to
juggle and keep track of all those
documents while managing your
sanity. Niki Irish of the D.C. Bar
Lawyer Assistance Program
explains why decluttering your
office space - and your life -
can be beneficial for your health
and productivity.
Q: Will decluttering make me more profitable?
To quote D.C. Bar Practice Management Advisory
Service senior staff attorney Rochelle Washington:
"A lack of organization will affect any business's
bottom line because it significantly impacts productivity. For lawyers, especially small firm lawyers,
time is money, so what you do with your time is
important. Clutter makes it difficult to efficiently
and effectively manage your business and internal
processes, therefore it can and will reduce your
profitability."
Clearing clutter from various areas of your life will
put you on a path to increased well-being, increased
quality of work, and greater efficiency. When you
are aware of what you need to do, you are better
able to manage your workload. When your cluttered
space isn't a distraction, you are able to get more
done in less time. When you create space in your
mind it allows for greater concentration and decision

making. According to a National Institutes of Health
study, decluttering increased productivity, decreased
irritability, and decreased distraction.
Q: What do you see as a frequent obstacle for
lawyers?
Most lawyers strive for perfection. Yet when it
comes to decluttering (and most other areas of life),
perfection isn't possible. Striving for it can cause
you to give up, feeling like a failure. It is better to
do something rather than nothing. It is okay if you
don't have the time to organize your entire office
in one day. Any action, no matter how small, is an
achievement. The goal is progress, not perfection,
and the key is to patiently remind yourself that
decluttering is a step-by-step process.
Q: Help! I am too busy to take the time to
declutter.
Remember why you want to make changes. Why is
this important to you and how will it help you reach
your goals? Acknowledge that time is a limited
resource, and yes, you will have to take some time
away from other things to address the clutter.
However, remember this is about an initial investment in creating a system that works for you. When
you follow the system habitually, your work life
should be easier and require less effort and energy
overall. The goal is to declutter and then implement
habits that, once they become routine, will keep
the clutter at bay.
Q: The idea of decluttering is just too overwhelming or feels too ambitious. I don't know
where to begin.
Getting started is often the hardest part. First,
make an appointment with yourself. Put the day
and time on the calendar. Then, keep it simple. Pick
one area to focus on first, such as one pile of papers
on your desk. Start sorting. This can be done in 5 to
10 minutes each day, attacking one pile at a time,

one surface at a time. Decluttering your mind is
the same concept, taking one five-minute break in
your day is where you start. The Lawyer Assistance
Program is also available to assist. We can help
you identify your goals and develop a plan of
action to get you started. To reach an LAP counselor, call 202-347-3131 or email LAP@dcbar.org.
Niki Irish is a senior counselor and licensed independent
clinical social worker with the D.C. Bar Lawyer
Assistance Program.
Visit dcbar.org/news to get 5 key
tips to avoid getting buried under
clutter.

Niki Irish by Jeffery Leon

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

JANUARY 2018

11


https://www.dcbar.org/about-the-bar/news/cut-the-clutter.cfm http://www.dcbar.org/news http://www.dcbar.org/ http://www.dcbar.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January 2018

Your Voice
From Our President
Our Membership
Career & Professional Development
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
Feature: When Counsel Needs Counseling
Feature: Finding Fullment in Life & the Law
Feature: Surviving Incivility
Member Spotlight
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Partners' Perspective
Disciplinary Summaries
Campus Connection
The Pro Bono Effect
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 4
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 7
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Our Membership
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 9
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Feature: When Counsel Needs Counseling
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 18
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 20
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Feature: Finding Fullment in Life & the Law
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 24
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 26
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Feature: Surviving Incivility
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 30
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 35
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Partners' Perspective
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Campus Connection
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 45
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - Cover4
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