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Ask Eula Mae: Too Much Time on My Hands

Posted By NALS Editorial + Marketing Board, Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Updated: Friday, June 14, 2019

Dear Eula Mae:

I work in a small legal office and most of the time we are really busy with legal work. However, there are just a couple of times a year when I run out of things to do and I’m not sure how best to use this extra time or where to start.  It’s nice to have a breather when the boss goes on vacation or at Christmastime, but it is also boring, too.  I love legal work and love the daily routine.  It is stressful when the work is on a pause.  I would rather be doing something than sitting around all day waiting for the work to come rolling in again. Do you have any suggestions?


--What to Do in Delaware

Dear What to Do in Delaware:


This is really an easy problem to solve.  Just like any good Scout, the best thing you can do is be prepared.  Besides just basic cleaning tasks, there are many other thoughtful and useful odd jobs you could do in a relatively short time.  Starting today, make a list of all those annoying things around and in your desk, and if you work for one attorney, include the entire office.  This would be annoying things like how to corral all those loose pens, figuring out a schedule to keep enough copy paper handy, or keeping the scanning jobs going. 


Now is a great time to really clean and organize your desk and office area and the workroom. While you are at it, have paper and pen handy to make a list of office and other supplies that you might need and prepare an inventory of office equipment. Remember to include serial numbers and phone numbers.  Review any contracts that you have for the copier and the coffee and water service.  Is it time to have the copier and printer cleaned?  Just like a car, this will extend their usefulness.  This is information that should be included in your desk manual.


Is there anything that you need that would make your job easier?  Check to see that you have the latest reference books that you need. Make a list of professional goals and include educational webinars, classes and conferences that you wish to attend.  Does your town have a local or state NALS chapter that you could benefit from joining?  If not, get involved with the online classes, publications, and network. 


One of the most important tools that you have is the desk manual with information from your office, including policies and procedures, contact information for the office staff, court filing fee schedules, and document formatting information, et cetera.  Now is a good time to get it up to date. (Really, you should do this once or twice a year.)  Be sure you have the latest contact information of all the service companies and businesses that the office uses. 


Start with a list of items mentioned in this column and add your own ideas of monthly, semi-annual, and annual tasks to keep the office running smoothly.  This is a great list to keep in the front of your desk manual and add to it when you think of things.  There is always so much to do, and this list will come in handy to manage your area and your time—and you will never be bored.

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