A productivity workflow is a great system to work on as the new year gets started. Last week, the Harvard Business Review had a good article on creating a productivity workflow that works for you. Working with my clients, in addition to the legal work, we often try to brainstorm systems that will help with their business as well. We’re all in the same boat. I’m running a business just like my clients. Sometimes, their ideas or management strategies can be helpful for my law firm as well. Years ago, a client turned me on to Slack. Now, I have clients who prefer to collaborate through that software instead of my client portal. And when it comes to procrastination? I think we could all use some good tips and systems to battle it.

Principles for a Productivity Workflow

The Harvard Business Review’s article discusses tools like Airtable, Notion and Coda. These tools allow you to create custom productivity dashboards. But when you are deciding on what to assemble, the article lays out some principles you should consider:

  • Know the problem you’re trying to solve
  • Start small
  • Create separate dashboards for different types of projects
  • Look for integrations
  • Make an Escape Plan

What Tools Are You Using?

I had coffee this week with a client and when we finished the legal talk, we moved on to our respective systems. Like me, she runs her own business and is offering services to clients. She was very curious about how I am able to run a paperless business. At our meetings, she brings computers and journals and a very full bag of stuff. I show up with a cup of coffee and an iPad. So we discussed the tools that help me run on a daily basis.

For me, my business is built on:

  • Mac/Apple hardware
  • Google Apps for Business
  • Evernote
  • Omnifocus
  • RingCentral

To analyze all the data that gets churned out of my systems, I have a self-created dashboard in Excel. I could probably find a way to automate that dashboard, but I find that inputting that data allows me to also review the data. It gives me a quick view of how things are doing and where problems may be arising.

Years ago, I worked for someone who had no internal systems. There was no productivity workflow to speak of. The person tasked with taking dictation couldn’t type fast enough. Computer systems were a wreck. The phone systems just left voicemails in a general mailbox to die a slow death. It always amazed me that even legal documents that went out the door could look completely different depending on which attorney had prepared them. There was a tenant in the office who would constantly steal office supplies. Everyone seemed to know this was happening, but no one seemed to care. All of these holes in the system were undoubtedly costing the firm lots of money. But when no one cares, there’s no motivation to change.

It’s the start to a new decade. A good time for you to go back and review your office systems. Many of the software vendors even offer free trials or a discount to try them out. So, what are you waiting for? Try something new. You’ll never know what you’ll find.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.
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