Monday Practice Tip- Cleanliness is Godliness

Hope you all had a great weekend!  There is 38 minutes left in Monday here on the east coast, so still time to provide a practice tip for young attorneys.

The folks I have worked with over the years will shake their heads at this one, because I was notoriously messy for the first several years of my career.  But my tip today, indeed, is to maintain a clean workspace.  Sorry to be a hypocrite, but please, learn from my mistakes!

This may seem obvious to some or overrated to others, but let me give you several reasons why this is a key practice tip:

1) A clean workspace is the cousin to “dressing for success.”  That is, we are in a society where observers form impressions of us instantaneously, and often haven’t the time or the interest and looking beyond those first impressions.  The attorney behind that filthy desk is simply someone we do not trust to be on top of things, whether it is a client who hopes you are taking good care of his company’s confidential documents or a partner who hopes you are on top of the 5 projects he or she has recently given you.  If we can barely see you beyond that mess, we do not trust you.

2) On the flip side, the shiny unencumbered desk is such a comforting, professional, confidence-building appearance to your office guests.  When your office is immaculate, your visitors see you as someone who is on top of your work, does not let matters linger and is more than ready to solve your problem.

3) A slovenly work space is a huge stress builder.  In fact, I have had times in years past when I literally felt that the stacks of documents and folders on my desk sent me shrinking in my chair like major walls caving in around me and about to swallow me whole.  Conversely, a wave of peace and confidence hits me when I have a clean space.

If you are one of those young attorneys with stacks of papers forming all over your desk, my advice to you is to first promise yourself that every item you handle from that point on will go back in its place immediately after you are through with it, whether it be to put it in your outbox or bring it back to the file room.  Next, each day, promise yourself that you will remove one pile of debris from your office.  Literally start at the top of the stack, go document by document, and put it where it needs to go.  75% of the time it will need to go in the trash!  Other times you will need a post-it with some instructions for your assistant.  The universal truth is that it does not belong on your desk!!!

Sorry to keep it so simple this week, but you will thank me later!

Explore posts in the same categories: Practice Tips for Young Attorneys

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