Dan Siegel: Hello. Welcome to today's program, Doing More in Less Time for Lawyers. I'm your host, Dan Siegel, and I'm going to be taking you through this program to give you tips about how to improve your efficiency both in terms of setting up your productivity and using technology, so let's begin.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I'm an attorney. I'm a practicing attorney focusing on appellate writing, professional responsibility and ethics, and I also operating a consulting firm where we work with lawyers, dealing with their legal technology and improving their workflow, because one of the questions I am always asked is, "How do you get so much done?"
When I originally opened I was a pure solo, and as a pure solo I had to do everything myself. Well, doing everything yourself requires a lot of different skills, a lot of juggling, and in a world where we're so technology and email based it's important to be able to be efficient.
Over the years, even before I went out on my own, I had begun to develop the techniques and the tips that you're going to hear some of today, and I presented them in a variety of different programs, one of which is a program called How To Do 90 Minutes of Work in 60 for Lawyers, which is sort of what this is based on.
This program is actually based on not only that, but a book that I co-authored with another technology and efficiency expert named Allison Shields called How to Do More in Less Time. What we do is combine our expertise to provide information about how you can get the most out of your time, because you didn't go to law school in order to be a computer program. You didn't go to law school to push paper.
You went to law school to represent clients, and to do so you need to be able to use techniques that allow you to get the most out of your time so that as I was almost every night, and have been since I've been out on my own since 2005, I was home for dinner just about every night, and that was important. I was there for my family and I had a normal nighttime life.
So let's talk about some of these things. There are lots of things that we classify as time wasters, and a lot of these are areas where you can certainly improve your productivity. Procrastinating, we all do that at some point. Poor delegation of work, where you don't delegate what should be delegated, often because you feel like you can do it better. That's a hard one to get past.
Ineffective meetings, we all know how difficult it is with meetings and how much time gets wasted, probably expanded even more by the fact that now our meetings are on Zoom, so not only do we have it seems more meetings and every meeting seems to now be a video meeting, but in addition to having all of these meetings we're taking up a lot of time with sort of chitchat. While that's great when you need a break, it's not great when you're trying to get work done.
Another time waster is perfectionism. At some point you have to end whatever you're doing and move forward into another project, because perfection is the enemy in many ways to being very close.
Clutter, paper, piles of things on your desk, and the inability to say no, and of course interruptions, people knocking on your door, you knocking on their door, all of those types of things.
What we want to talk about or as concepts are that you want to be effective and efficient. Effectiveness is being able to do the right things, while efficiency is doing things the right way.
The first step that I take, and I do this pretty much daily, is to prioritize. One of the things I learned from Allison when we were putting together our book was priority really matters, and there are ways to make it matter even more.
Prioritizing means that you define the activities that are of the highest value and you focus on those tasks. But what else we do, and I do this every day in my office, is I create my must do list. That is a list that has a minimum of three items on it. Typically it may have a few more, but the top three are my must dos, and those are items that I must get done today. Even if it means I have to stay a little later or whatever, these are the three projects that I know have to be done today so that I feel like I have been productive.
There are also the don't do list, things that while they may be out there they are things that you are not going to do today because other items are in that proper priority. When you create this list of priorities it helps you avoid the reactive role, because you determine in advance where your time and energy are going to be focused on that day, so that today you may say okay, I've got to write this brief or draft this contract and that's my top priority, and tomorrow is the day you're going to triage that stack of email that is absolutely overwhelming to you.
You want to focus on the task you're doing, the purpose of the task, as well as the outcome or the anticipated result. That's the importance of prioritize.
When you're doing that, we all know that there are times when you need to be focused. I am someone who is easily distracted, but also can focus with laser sharpness when necessary, and that's easier to do when let's say during the quarantine era of pandemic I was at home and I could easily focus because no one was around to bother me or to interrupt.
In an office environment it is harder, and as a result we created in my office, and we continue to use it to this day, what we call DND time, do not disturb time. It is typically done in a couple of forms.
One is my door is typically open and people know they can come in. If my door is closed and there is a yellow sticky note on the door... It doesn't have to say anything, because usually I just grab one and put it on the door... Everyone knows Dan is in the middle of doing something. He cannot be distracted. It typically means my phone is also set to DND, do not disturb, so that people know leave Dan alone. I don't do this all the time, but when I do it they know I need to be able to be laser sharp in my focus.
The other thing that we do that corresponds to that is that if I know I have a brief that has to be written or some other major project I will place that onto my calendar and it is my appointment for 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. today, is to do whatever that project is. Why? Because we all know that when you don't schedule something it doesn't always get done.
The pandemic brought that concept home, particularly with phone calls. It's one thing when you're in the office and you're taking calls and everything, but when you're working remotely and you may have people calling on the cellphone, you might have your office calls forwarded, there's all those different variations.
What I truly started doing finally during that period was to schedule my calls. Why? Because invariably if I said I was going to call you back I may not have gotten to it because three other things happened, and calls became a scheduling item. That was a little step that I continue till today, and has really helped improve my productivity. Why? Because I know at 9:30 tomorrow morning I have a call with an attorney to talk about what I have to do with him.
Another area that's like that is what is often referred to as multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is the theoretical concept that you can be doing two or three things at one time. Well, all you have to do is think about that person who is on the phone with you and you can tell they may be on the phone but they are focused on something else.
Are they typing something or reading email? Are they playing a video game? You don't know, but it is very hard to focus on two items at the same time. So what multi-tasking really is is switch tasking, so try as much as you can if you're doing work on your computer not to also be talking on the phone.
At times, to prevent myself from my addiction with email, I will actually turn off my monitor during an important phone call. Why? Because that means there's nothing for me to look at on the screen, because I don't need to do that. That's an easy way to turn off the temptation that is always there to let's see what's in my email. Oh, did someone just give me an internal message, whatever the case may be. When the computer screen is off you're not going to do that.
That becomes even more important during video conferences, because people can see, and it is a challenge, to say the least, to determine whether someone is actually looking at you or the screen because, depending on where their camera is, where you are in the little Brady Bunch array of people, it varies a lot.
As a practical matter, it is important not to be doing more than one thing, plus the reality is you don't focus as well, you don't get your best production when you try to do two or three things, and you can really insult or alienate clients and others, so don't do it.
When you're dealing with this and you're trying to figure out how do I get stuff done, think about delegating. We talked about it earlier, but really think about it. If you're someone like me, I always believe I can always do this just as well or better than anyone else and therefore I shouldn't delegate. I'm the attorney in my office. I'm the boss and everything else.
That means that my time is valuable, as is everyone else's, but other people who are being paid less than I am, their value is different, and you want to delegate tasks to them as much as possible so that one, you don't have to do everything, and, two, you are using your time for what is your max skill and potentially max billable time and allow these other people to also use whatever those skills are that they have and max them out.
But if you're going to delegate there are some rules about how and what to delegate and how to do it effectively. Rule number one is to give clear, comprehensive instructions. Now perhaps you're not like me, who knows that every instruction I give is perfect and I've never forgotten a step or anything else in my instructions, but what I tell everyone who works with me, and I tell them to do this not just with me, but to do it anywhere they ever happen to be, is after you hear my instructions about whatever the project is repeat them back.
Say, "Okay, you want me to do A, B, D and E." Then when I hear that you just said, "A, B, D and E," I realize oh, I didn't mention C, and I can correct that and make certain that the person is able to understand and do exactly what I want, so that you have them read it back. It's like a waiter or waitress in a restaurant reading back your order. Isn't it better for them to repeat what you ordered than for them to bring out a meal improperly cooked and then you're unhappy because they wrote it down wrong?
Another is insure that you've been understood. I always ask, and I do this in client meetings too, "Am I clear? Are there any other questions that you have for me," so that I know that when we leave the meeting those questions have been raised and answered.
You should also when you delegate set a specific deadline and establish the priority for the project. You should also check in on the status of the project at either specified intervals or in some other predetermined time.
In my office, particularly with law clerks or people who are newer, when they do work we have what we call the two hour rule. Work on a project for up to two hours or whatever that time is that I specify and then come back and let's see what you've done and let's discuss it, because then it is much easier for me to see oh, you're on the right track, or no, you're actually a little bit mis-focused, and we can get you onto the right track, because it's better after about an hour or two to do that than have the person work for many hours and in that same process of working for many hours end up being on the wrong track, doing the wrong thing, and creating a project that ended up being a significant waste of time.
The other is to evaluate and share the outcome. When your staff or your associates or whomever does good work you want to tell them, "This is really good," and show them how it mattered. On the other hand, if the work needs improvement we will go over it and show them exactly what the improvement is that can be done.
My office does a large amount of writing. We have a significant appellate and writing practice. Well, as part of that we are very particular about the quality of the writing that leaves the office and we have a sort of distinctive style that I use in my writing.
So I don't just get the project back from the person, the law clerk, whomever, and just they never hear. Instead, I actually go through it with them sitting at my desk and we can look at it together. Part of doing that means that I use a 27 inch or larger screen so that it is easy for both them and me to see the document that I'm working on.
Right now I use a 32 inch screen that I got for under $300 at one of big warehouse stores and it's on a swivel base so that I can move it around so they can see it as well as I can.
It really helps, one, in the understanding of where things are going and why I made certain changes, and two, for them to feel like they're part of an ongoing process. When you do those types of delegation you will discover that yes, the results are there, that people understand and they respect you.
We also create deadlines for everything. That means there is no project in our office, or there should be none, for which there is no deadline. Even if it is an artificial deadline it is a time or date that you can sort of aim for to get things done.
The other part of it is that we are very techy. We have a high-powered case management software. We set reminders on our phones and everything else. That's all well and good and I love my technology, but in the office where my paralegal works across from her desk is a good old-fashioned whiteboard with erasable markers where we list every upcoming deadline. That way every time we walk past that, and that happens to be on the way to the little kitchen area that we have, that everyone sees it and it is a reminder that oh, yeah, in two days this is due, or we need to get something back to a client.
We have a second board that lists matters that may not always have deadlines but that require work. They could be a personal injury case. They could be a list of the estates we're handling. It could be the real estate transactions we're doing. But they are there because that visual reminder on a board that you see all the time really does help us focus our efforts as we do things.
We calendar everything so that every one of these deadlines is in my case management software. It is also synchronized to my phone, to my Outlook on my computer, so that everything is everywhere it needs to be.
Part of that for most offices means that you need a synchronized calendar. While these techniques apply to every type of office and every type of software and operating system, we have found that using an a Microsoft exchange based Outlook account allows us to coordinate all of our calendars, and some of us like to see the to dos on our calendar. I don't. I do it through my case management. But lots of people who have worked here do it the other way. That way you see that information, because if it isn't on your calendar it doesn't get done.
Then we talk about, and what we're going to move into now for the next, well, I don't know, 40 minutes or so of the program, is the technology. The elephant in the room is the firm or the firms and the lawyers who are reluctant to adopt technology.
It's easy to say things were better in the good old days, but are there many people who will tell you things were better before computers in terms of running an office? Probably not. They may not like email but they still like the computer, because you don't have to go back and retype whole pages when you decide to add a paragraph or something in a brief. You just do it.
People like the technology. How many people want to give up their cellphones? How many people want to give up GPS navigation in their cars, those types of things? Technology does, or can when implemented properly, really help us focus.
Also in virtually every state now the rules of professional conduct which govern how lawyers work requires lawyers to recognize and understand the ethical issues that arise in a variety of subjects, including technology. The comment to Model Rule 1.1, which is the competence rule, says that a lawyer has to understand the benefits and risks associated with technology.
Does that mean that you or I has to become an expert computer programmer? No. What it does mean is that you have to understand the issues relating to technology, the issues relating to keeping track of email notifications since a large number of courts no longer mail all of their notices to you.
But it also requires understanding what technology is needed to keep you up-to-date in your field. So if you are a trial lawyer who used to make cardboard cutouts and diagrams, well, maybe now is the time to recognize that more advanced technology and computer recreations may be a better way to go.
What I'm focusing on in the technology realm is not programming. It's not complex legal software. It's not specialized software that might only be appropriate for a particular type of practice. What I want to talk about is the software and the technology that is essentially common to almost every law firm and almost every lawyer.
I want you to think about something for a minute. You went to high school and elementary and junior high or middle school and you had to learn math and reading and social studies and spelling and all of those things. You went to law school and you learned the law and the procedures, so what didn't you learn in law school? Did they teach you how to use Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Microsoft Excel or Outlook or any of those programs? Probably not.
My sons graduated from the local public high school and they were expected to be competent in the use of Microsoft Word and Outlook and PowerPoint. There was only one problem. They were never taught how to be. They were expected to be without the correlating teaching of those subjects.
That's crazy, because while some of us may be computer whizzes who can really figure out how software works just by using it most of us don't, and that's the problem. No one taught you how to use a computer, and depending on when you were born your initial introduction to computers may not have come until your teens or older.
That doesn't mean you can't learn it. Suffice it to say if you see my picture in any of the materials or somewhere you'll say I don't look that old, and that's because I'm fortunate to have genes that allow me to age well. But I graduated law school in 1984. The first PCs weren't available till 1986. I was using electric typewriters, in particular the IBM Selectric, back then, carbon paper, carbon sets, onionskin, fax machines went whish, whish, whish, whish, whish around as they spun. That's what I was brought into law with.
We didn't use Shepard's online, which everyone does now with a click of the mouse. No, we had to look at the Shepard's book, and then the pocket part, and then the supplement, and then the supplement pocket part, and if by the time you got through all of that you found what you needed great.
How many times when you did all of that did you think you got everything? Probably not often, because it led to more questions than answers. Computers make that much easier, but you don't learn computers on your own, and you didn't design your computer. Who did? Some nerd who may have worked for Microsoft or Dell or some other company, and they're the ones who sort of decided where stuff is on your computer or how it works. Some of it may make a lot of sense to you or me. A lot of it doesn't make any sense to you or me because those people did it one way, but most of us don't do it that way.
And I'll ask you this, because you think about it. The first time you install or open Microsoft Word on a computer the default paragraph line settings isn't single spaced or double spaced or one and a half lines. It's 1.08 lines with eight points of type in between paragraphs, which is bizarre. I can tell you that I get lots of things from lots of different people where they've never changed that setting and it looks terrible, but you can change that. Just because some nerd who works for Microsoft decided that that should be the default doesn't mean you have to leave it there forever.
And yes, computers for some can feel overwhelming, but so can piles of paper. Paper is clutter. It is very hard to find things amidst piles of paper. When I was young and we didn't have computers I was known for having all of my piles. I don't have piles anymore. I have this little pile of paper on my desk of things that are to the large extent just duplicates or things I'm working on freshly, because even though I have what we call a paperless office I still use some paper.
This is a good time, as we move into it, to talk about what is this paperless office concept that sort of is embodied in using technology. A paperless office doesn't mean that there is no paper. It doesn't mean that you don't ever use paper. I print out documents, I print out things that are important, but most of it I can see on my 27 or 32 inch computer screen.
A paperless office simply means one where all of your files and records are digitized. They're scanned and saved electronically and stored in backup. That is at this point in a world where tomorrow you might hear again that you can't go to your office or something, that is the minimum level of competence in standards needed for any lawyer, because during the pandemic if you couldn't access your office's files remotely and you couldn't get into your office, which many of us could not, you couldn't perform your work.
I did hear many lawyers lament that, "Oh, my God, I can't get anything done because I can't access my files." In our office we were ready and when they said, "Okay, you got to go home and work," we looked at each other and went, "Okay. We'll talk to you later," and we went home and we all were able to access our files and all the information remotely. That's what paperless is. It doesn't mean you don't have paper.
But it also means that as part of implementing your office and being efficient that you adopt best practices in terms of your computer. Now this is an area that for most of us you sure weren't taught this in law school. You probably never had a course in how to use this stuff, but yet here's Dan talking to you about this type of thing.
What I'm going to do now is talk about some of the very basic ways that you can save time simply by changing or becoming more efficient with the technology you already own. Why is this important? If one of the techniques that I show you saves you 10 seconds and it saves you 10 seconds six times a day that means that in a week you've saved five minutes just whatever that shortcut is, and we'll talk about them, and in a year you've saved over four hours of time just with one little shortcut or technique.
Now extrapolate that to lots of others and you start to realize that wow, that is why Dan was so efficient all those years when he was a pure solo, because he knew how to do those things and he used his computer more efficiently. We're talking about using the common products in our office, particularly the Microsoft Office 365 suite of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, as well Adobe Acrobat and a couple of other products that are commonly used in most law offices and most businesses. That's what we're talking about here, and what are the ways to do that?
The first is, as I said before, you need to digitize. Everything in your office needs to be electronic, and generally speaking that means scanned and saved in a PDF format. PDF is simply a format created by the Adobe Corporation that is a portable document file where any file is supposed to open and appear the same on any computer or any phone, any operating system, regardless of the size, et cetera, and PDF is that standard.
So you want to scan things. Where possible you want to email documents and communications because it is more efficient. That said, there are still times when it is best to mail certain communications, whether it's to clients, to opposing counsel, et cetera, but for most things email is sufficient.
If you're going to fax use an electronic fax, which means that when you transmit you're simply attaching a file to an email, not using your fax machine, and when you receive a fax it comes as an email attachment. That way you're not getting up to go to the fax machine. How long is that going to take? It's going to take a few minutes till you go, come back, put in the phone number, check... We all stand there and watch it because for some reason we all want to see the fax go through.
Send things electronically. Don't print emails. Save them electronically. Of course when you're doing all of this you back up everything. Then, whether it's at the end of your case or after you scan, and that's a personal decision, you can shred any paper you have, knowing that the entire file has been digitized.
It's also important to have a file naming protocol, which is a protocol or a document that lists how you're going to name all of your different documents, because if you just call them Smith one, two, three, four, five, they really aren't helpful in terms of how you're going to know what's in those files, so we have a very specific naming protocol. We also, as I mentioned, use case or matter management software and we use large monitors.
So what do you do now that I've talked about all of this, and I keep talking about technology? Well, the first thing you want to do is to be able to customize your computer, and that starts with the desktop. And when I mean the desktop I mean the basic background item on your computer. It is important that that be customized.
You can do this in a couple of different ways. What I do is if it is a program or it is a file or something that I use a lot I want it on the desktop. So if it's a folder where I store documents I want that on the desktop. There are typically a few different ways to put items on your desktop.
One of them is to simply find the icon for the file or the item and right click on it and you will see that when you do you will have an option to send to desktop. You can do that. It also will typically let you put it on the start menu possibly and also on your taskbar. That way when I want to go to the folder that we call law office docs, where I store a variety of information, it's already on my desktop.
You can also right click on the desktop and say new and you can either create a folder or have it point to a folder, because right clicking almost anywhere is your best friend.
Also when you open up now it seems like just about every software program, but certainly all of the Microsoft Office programs, the WordPerfect type programs, they all allow you to pin documents to your start menu. What that means is if there's a file you use regularly you can pin it by finding the pin command and it will always be there at the top of your list when you're trying to open files so that you don't have to keep scrolling or navigating.
One of the things that I have found to be extraordinarily convenient yet always gets me pushback until people start using it and getting used to it is where do I put a taskbar? For most of us the taskbar is that little black strip across the bottom of your computer screen that is just filled to the gills with all kinds of stuff and you can't really tell what it is.
Well, that's there because some geek who works for Microsoft decided that the taskbar belonged on the bottom. It is really hard and you really got to squint a lot to try to figure out what belongs on the taskbar and what doesn't. There's an easier way.
If you go to the taskbar and right click on it you will see a command that says taskbar settings. That's just right click, and taskbar settings. This window or dialog that opens up will vary, depending on the version of Windows you are using, but it's there and it's been there for probably a decade or more.
The options include locking the taskbar. You don't want to do that, because if you lock it it is always visible and much of the time we're working we don't need to see it.
Another option is to automatically hide the taskbar in desktop mode, which means when you're not working on it it disappears, but when you need to find it by moving your mouse and hovering it is there. That's great. I always use that.
I like small taskbar buttons because they're big enough for me to see. Some people like larger ones. That's a personal choice. The key commands, though, are where is the taskbar location on the screen? By default it's on the bottom. The bottom is annoying, because if you have a bunch of different things open, programs, it is almost impossible to tell what they are.
I strongly suggest, and I've had lots of converts... This is one of these moments where people get sort of the religion of computers, and I put my taskbar on the left. So I have it on the left and it's auto hidden, so I only see it when I need to see it when I move my mouse to the left.
But then I change the setting for combined taskbar buttons to never so that they're always available and I can see what every program is and what every file is that's open. Right now if you were to look at my taskbar you would be able to see... And since you can modify the width of the taskbar, you can make it as thick or narrow as you want, that I have Outlook open, that I have Microsoft Edge Browser open, that I have two different folder windows open, that I have my time billing program open, that my office's Chat is open, QuickBooks is open, two different programs from PowerPoint are open, a program called NoteMap is open, my voice recorder and my settings are all open.
I can see not only that they are open, but what they open to. So for the PowerPoints I see the programs that are open. I see all of this information right there on the left. I don't have to squint. I don't have to do a thing. That's the whole idea, and if you make those changes on your taskbar you're going to discover that they are really helpful.
Next thing you want to do is to open up a folder which is called Windows Explorer to see the files in that folder. By not default, but it is common for people to use the list setting, where when you open a folder you see everything on the view as... And I may not list details, excuse me, and you see the name of the folder or the file. You also see date modified, file type, size, et cetera.
That takes up a lot of visual real estate. When you go to the view tab for a particular folder you have different options and as your mouse hovers over the different options you can see exactly what they look like if you were to select them.
I strongly suggest you select list. Why? Because when you're doing details, just the way my folder is set up right now I can see roughly 20 different folders. When I go to list I can see 80. That's less scrolling. Less scrolling is less time spent. Less time spent adds up to days, weeks, months, et cetera, so you want those folders to be set up for list.
Another thing that is often mislooked... Not mislooked, it's looked over or overlooked, is when we send an attachment by email. If you're sending documents please remember to be careful not to send privileged or confidential information whenever possible, but if you're going to attach something to an email, a file, typically speaking if you go to the file menu in almost any program... So here I just clicked on PowerPoint. One of the file items is share, and when I click share it gives me the option of sharing or emailing the document.
Word does that. Most programs have that send command somewhere in there, and when you select that it will open up a window and attach whatever the document is, or file really, it doesn't have to be a document, and it will attach it to an email which is your default email program. In most offices that's Outlook, so that instead of having to create the file, then save the file, close the file, go to Outlook file new email, et cetera, and then attach, all you have to do is the file and either share or send to or send as an attachment. Those are the variations on those commands, and they're ready to go in your email. The subject is typically the name of the file. You may want to change that, but it is much more efficient than any other way.
I mentioned earlier your desktop. One of the things you want to do is clean it up, because you don't want to have a lot of files and programs that you don't need. Our general rule is that for our computers if there's a file that we need it's going to be stored in the documents folder and then in a sub-folder. Why? Because if I put it in documents it is very easy to locate everything, and if I have to do backups I'm not searching all over my computer for all different files. They're all in documents, so you want to do that.
We also in ever computer I have, in every computer we ever set up, we create a folder in the C drive that is called temp, T-E-M-P. Why? That's where I might store an attachment from an email or something else like that, or documents I'm just working on temporarily. It's my computer junk drawer, but it's where I also can go if I have for some reason have to save a file before sending it. That's where I'm going to store it.
But I also know that anything in the temp folder is in theory trash, so I can delete it. If I'm on a long, boring phone call I'll go and I'll clean out the temp folder. But it really does save you time.
Another thing to understand while you're learning how to make your computer more effective is to look at all of the different keyboard shortcuts. When you look at your keyboard you see that there are lots of different commands, and then Microsoft also has a resource of all the different computer keyboard shortcuts that are out there.
All you have to do is go in and search your browser for Microsoft Keyboard Shortcuts and you're going to find a lot of them. You're going to learn that control X is cut, control V is paste. But if you're working in a document and you've copied things from other files or the internet or Lexus or Westlaw you might see hyperlinks that you don't want.
How do you get rid of them? Yes, you can right click on each hyperlink, but if you've got 10 in your file that's going to be a bunch of tedious work. On the other hand, if you select all and use the keyboard command control, shift and F9 all together, control, shift, F9, everything that is highlighted, all of the hyperlinks, are removed.
Another shortcut is that when you ask most people when they have to open up the taskbar or the task manager because something has frozen what do they do? Control, alt, delete and then open task manager. No reason to do that. All you have to do is type in the keyboard combination control, shift and escape; control, shift and escape. That brings you to your task manager.
When you're looking for shortcuts and you don't know what they are just right click on the icon or the file or whatever it is you're looking at. You will be amazed at how many options are available by right clicking, and because the right click is what we call a context menu, its contents vary depending on what you click on, the information or the shortcut that you find is going to be different at each time.
So now let's talk about some common features and settings that really save time in all of the Microsoft Office programs. The first one is we have the ribbon. Whether you like the ribbon or not, it's here to stay, but there one absolute unquestionable truth about the ribbon. Whatever command you are looking for, it won't be on that tab of the ribbon that is displaying when you need it, even though it's supposed to be there.
So how do you get the commands that you really care about so you can use them? That's actually very easy. There is a feature called the quick access toolbar, and it either appears above or directly below the ribbon. If you look at the very top of your computer, the little bar that has the name of the file and some other stuff, it may be empty or it may just have one or two items on there, but there's usually a dropdown arrow on the upper left area, and when you do you'll see it says customize quick access toolbar.
It will show you about ten different commands that you can put on there simply by checking them, and once you do it could be new, automatically saved, spelling... Those items, they appear.
You also can right click on any command in the ribbon and you will see it allows you to add it to the quick access toolbar. But the quick access toolbar can hold lots of other commands. When you right click on the toolbar and you can then customize quick access toolbar or the dropdown allows you to do it, when you go in it's going to show you, and this is in Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, all of the Microsoft Office 365 products, you will see that what it does is it says customize the quick access toolbar.
Below that it will tell you you can choose from popular commands and then you have options of every possible tab in that product to find options for, or you can just say all commands. You can then highlight the toolbar you want, or the command. In the middle it says add, and when you click on add it will add that command to the right column, which is called customized quick access toolbar, and you can put in the items that you need and that you use.
So when I need to put in a symbol such as the section or paragraph symbol wherever I am it's not going to be where I want it to be on the toolbar, so all I have to do is go to popular commands insert, scroll down till I find the symbol, S-Y-M-B-O-L, command, and I can just add it in. Then when I need to find a symbol I can just use that as a dropdown, plus when you do that, the symbol command, and when you add it in and use it as a dropdown, you will discover that it gives you the options of showing symbols and other text items, but also shows your most recently used symbols, et cetera, so if you use the section symbol or the paragraph symbol it's going to appear.
The other nice part is that the people who designed your software, Microsoft, when you go into more commands and you look in the toolbar list the second item listed under popular commands is commands not in the ribbon. These are commands that have been in the program, whatever program you're using, for many years, but for whatever reason the designers decided it didn't need to be in the ribbon anymore, and you still might want to use it so it is there. That's all by customizing the quick access toolbar.
When I'm in Microsoft Word, for example, my quick access toolbar has a variety of different items in it, including everything from copy, paste, cut, redo, undo, new blank document, open, quick print, page layout, spell check, paragraph layout. You name it, it is there. Insert section and paragraph breaks, print on an envelope. I mentioned symbols before.
I even have the command up there for insert a footnote, because when I'm writing a brief and I need to have a footnote that's where I go. I have for insert the date and time as well. Why? I use these commands. It may only save you a couple of seconds of typing, but if you add up those couples of seconds suddenly you're talking minutes, days, weeks, hours, et cetera. You want to do that by customizing all of those toolbars.
Another area where I invariably find that the users can improve their efficiency is opening up in Microsoft Outlook. One of the first things that is really helpful in doing that is that you are able to see email right from the start. What I mean by that is when you go into view you have an option about halfway across for the reading pane, and by default the reading pane is typically off, and that means you only see each email in a small line.
If you have it set to right you get the most sort of visible geography and can see email and attachments and content without having to click open, click close every email. That by itself is an enormous time saver, so you want to make sure that the reading pane is on.
You also want to go into the file and options in Outlook and then go to mail, because under compose messages one of the important items to check off which is not checked by default in Outlook is always check spelling before sending. It is frustrating for me, and perhaps for all of you, to receive email that clearly has not been spell checked. It is more professional, it is businesslike to make certain that you limit or eliminate all of the typos.
To do that you would check off always check spelling before sending. Once you do that Microsoft Outlook will check your spelling before you do anything else.
Another area that people talk about and use a lot is your searching the web. We all do it, but yet we don't do it as efficiently as we would like, and that's a problem. The commands and things I'm going to show you now really don't change, regardless of which browser you use. Most of them are the same or very similar.
Every browser has in some location a favorites toolbar. If you were to look at my browser, and currently my default browser is Microsoft Edge, you would see that I have folders that include everything from PA in Philadelphia, which deals with any kind of legal matter or links in Philadelphia or PA, because I'm a Pennsylvania attorney.
I have other links on here such as websites that I go to all the time. If you want to add a website to the toolbar, when you go to that website all you have to do is take the icon from the website on the very left of the address bar and drag it wherever you want to put it in your toolbar and then you will have that item there, so there's always a link to my case management software because I dragged it there.
You can also drag it within folders, so I have a folder, the PA in Philly, and there is a link to bar associations, and you can drop it in there if you need to find the Pennsylvania Bar Association or the Philadelphia Bar Association, because you shouldn't have to type or find those locations more than once.
The other command that is universally useful and is a time saver and requires less typing is if you enter the name of a website into a browser, and I don't mean www.amazon.com, I mean if you just type the word Amazon in there and then hit the control and enter keys what happens? Your browser instantly fills in the www. and the .com after Amazon and takes you to that site.
So just by typing in CNN for example and control, enter you will go to CNN's website. Think about that. You've eliminated typing eight different characters, and if you eliminate that X number of times a day, times the number, times a week, suddenly you're talking about a lot of time saved, and that's the point, that you want to be able to save that time by not having to type the names again.
Any website that I go to more than once or twice I save somewhere on that toolbar. So if you were to look at my toolbar, on the main part of the toolbar, and with a 32 inch screen I see a lot of different links. I have a page where I can go instantly to see the new cases decisions released by the Pennsylvania Appellate Courts.
I have one that allows me to go directly to the e-filing website for the Philadelphia Courts, because I can tell you there is no way in the world that I am going to remember a login page that is fjdefile.phila.gov. I'm just not going to do that, plus it's faster to just click the link.
I do that for my phone administration. If you have a VOIP system you can put that link on there. There's all kinds of other links as well, including one to legal research, et cetera, et cetera, the whole idea being I want those items quick and accessible to me.
Other things to use or to be aware of is most law firms use Adobe Acrobat, for example. But when you open a file in Acrobat one of the key things is... Especially if you're using DC as the setting, do you want the documents to open in tabs or as separate files? That is done through the edit and preferences menu. But the edit and preferences menu in Adobe Acrobat is far more than just the setting for that item, which is actually in the general settings under open documents as new tabs in the same window. That's where you change and customize how the software looks, how it opens, whose name is on it when it makes comments, how and when it checks spelling, what it says when it's doing forms and a whole slew of other information.
I could spend half an hour just teaching you how to customize Acrobat, but the idea isn't to customize Acrobat; it's to customize all of the different programs that you use. In that regard, one of the most important things you can do and to learn from this program is you need to play with your computer and your software.
I say that, and every time I'm in a crowd where I can really see your face I know that you are looking at me like play with my computer? Yes. You're not going to break it. It is not a plastic toy that when you spin the arm around three times it falls off. It is in fact a computer and it is designed to be customized and looked at.
How do you do that? By taking some of the limited numbers of examples I've been able to give you in an hour. Another way is to look at every one of the dropdown menus in every program, and you will be amazed if you just look at the file and the home and the insert in Word to realize just how many different features there are and how many different things those features can do for you, which is the entire goal, the whole point of this program.
You want to be able to use your computer to be efficient just as you want to use the techniques that I've talked about to help improve your efficiency, your effectiveness, your leadership with your staff, and to be a better lawyer.
We are just out of time at this point. This program has been called Doing More in Less Time for Lawyers. I'm Dan Siegel. I'm an attorney from suburban Philadelphia and a workflow consultant. I hope you have enjoyed this program. If you have comments or questions you can feel free to contact me. My email is dan@daniel, D-A-N-I-E-L, jsiegel, S-I-E-G-E-L.com. My phone number is 610-446-3457.
Again, thank you for attending this program. I hope you've learned a lot and realize that just by cutting down some keystrokes and making some changes to your computer you will be able to save a lot of time and be able to do more in less time as a lawyer while getting better results for you and your clients. Thank you.