1 Empty your e-mail inbox daily.
2 Change your e-mail settings so the system doesn’t alert you every time a message comes in, as many systems do. Outlook can be set to alert you only for urgent messages. Interruptions only spoil your attention to your work; check your messages when you’re ready for them.
12 Find a desktop search tool that works for you. Google’s search is the most popular, but know how to find what you need on your system. The major search engines—Yahoo Search, Ask.com, MSN —and others all offer desktop searching, as do some other companies like Copernic. The new Microsoft Vista operating system has an improved search, which can be downloaded separately if you’re not a Vista user.
13 Use Quicksilver to open files and applications without hunting for them on your desktop. Just type the name of the program or file you want to launch, and Quicksilver finds a match for what you’re typing.
14 For advanced calendar users, the open source Remind calendar and alarm software from Roaring Penguin Software can be programmed to handle special events like holidays or irregularly scheduled meetings.
21 Do the thing you dread the most first thing each day.
22 Break big tasks up into small chunks. Writer Gina Trapani of San Diego wrote her book of productivity tips, Lifehacker, in 60-minute chunks. “I’d set a kitchen timer and write like hell till the bell rang, and then I got up and took a break —no matter where I was,” she says. “It’s amazing how a ticking clock can keep you on task and focused.”
23 Calculate filing deadlines and keep track of multiple court schedules with shareware like DateCalc 1.2 or CSC Date Calculator 2.1. The software counts days between dates or measures days from dates. They can save both time and embarrassment.
33 Unified messaging can allocate all your messages—e-mail, voice mail and even faxes—to one inbox. Some will even convert voice mail to digital files and faxes to PDF files and put them in your e-mail folders. E-mail systems driven by Microsoft Exchange 2007 have Unified Message capability, as do a number of other software communications programs. Comcast recently announced it will offer the free service to its high-speed Internet subscribers.
42 Switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox. Firefox is less vulnerable to viruses and hackers, and it lets you use neat tools like...
43... Greasemonkey is free software that allows you to customize your Firefox browser. Among the options are changing the way Web pages are displayed or even programming it to monitor your Web-based e-mail.
49 Try Citrus from Dakota Legal Software to update and fix your case citations automatically to Bluebook standards in Microsoft Word. Cost is $495 per computer for the initial license and $95 for any additional licenses.
50 Learn Microsoft Word’s or Corel WordPerfect’s more advanced shortcuts, such as “paste special,” which lets you control the formatting for files you’ve copied and pasted without having to manually change a whole bunch of settings.
58 If all of this tech stuff leaves you cold, don’t use software or gadgets. Folders, paper and note cards are making a comeback. Besides, why send an e-mail anyone can ignore when you can stick paper in their face?
66 Having trouble keeping track of your clients’ names and faces? Take a look at Mind Tools, a site offering brain exercises. Search for “mindtools.com” and “memory games.”
67 The Web site SharpBrains suggests self-improvement exercises. Try this one: Take five-minute visualization breaks with deep and regular breathing, picturing beautiful landscapes or pleasant or successful memories, especially after finishing a tough task.
79 Use Giveaway of the Day to get licensed software for free. Most of it will be junk you don’t need, but occasionally you’ll find something useful. Dallas attorney Mighell says he’s gotten useful tools there like ...
80 ... FlashSpring Pro, which plays PowerPoint presentations as Flash animations. That way you can take all those great PowerPoint presentations you’ve got sitting around and post them to your Web site, where you can impress prospective clients.
84 The key to technology is finding tools that fit the way you work, which is why a lot of attorneys are discovering tablet PCs. “The great thing about the tablet is it straddles both worlds, putting handwritten notes into digital files and doing everything a regular PC does,” says Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program.
GET MORE TIPS
99 To get even more productivity hacks and tips, check out blogs like Lifehacker, Lifehack.org, 43 Folders and the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s ABA Site-tation. The ABA Techshow also publishes its popular “60 Sites in 60 Minutes” technology presentations online. And Techshow’s popular “60 Tips” programs are available on DVD from the association’s Law Practice Management Section.
101 Our last tip comes from ABA member Tim Miller of Scottsdale, Ariz., by way of the ancient Greeks. “For years, I tried to force myself to become organized using some prefab organizational method. In the end, they all fell short. It was not until I actually assessed my strengths and weaknesses that I was able to develop a method that works for me. I have now achieved a level of organization that improves my efficiency and greatly reduces my stress that something is being overlooked. So my tip: Know thyself.”