Productivity has been the bane of my existence. For starters, my new role has a ton of moving parts (surprise: Google is demanding). Additionally, WFH severely undermines my ability to concentrate. A colleague recently noticed my silent cries for help and shared his Google Sheet with me for tracking and prioritizing projects/tasks. Let me tell you, it has been life changing.
With classes starting remotely on Monday, I decided to convert that sheet for law school related tasks and projects and share it here for anyone else that might benefit from it. (this is just an example template, feel free to make a copy). This might be especially useful if you’re an incoming 1L that’s already feeling bogged down by assigned readings and opportunities from various law school organizations. I’m not a professional at all when it comes to organization, but I have tried almost everything and found this strategy to be quite useful for the immense amount of backlog I deal with daily at work.
How the Sheet Works
Prioritization is super important as it’s easy to get overwhelmed by a million different tasks throughout the day – especially if you seem to have an ever-growing backlog. With that, the ability to prioritize is a key skill for being a successful lawyer and professional later in your career. The sheet uses a P0-P4 prioritization scale. P0-P1 tasks are the most pressing and must be completed ASAP (usually same day). P2-P3 are important tasks but can be done later (usually within the same week). P4 tasks can be done any time at your leisure.
I also find it important to estimate how much time each task will take ahead of time. This helps me put a number to my bandwidth so I’m less likely to say yes to everything all the time. Including the time it took to complete each project is also important as it might factor into your time calculus for the next task on your list.
Additionally, I broke the sheet up into tabs for one off tasks and long term projects. At first I just had one sheet for everything. This made it feel as though I wasn’t getting anything done for projects like “complete law review article.” By breaking larger projects up in the long term projects tab, I’m able to visualize the progress I’m actually making towards completing what felt like a monstrous project to begin with. There’s a lot of science around the dopamine response associated with checking off tasks on your to-do list. Create little wins to keep yourself motivated.
Lastly, I included an archived task list. For each completed task, I move the entire row from the long term or short term sheets to the archived sheet. This is just to help me track what I’ve completed throughout the month (or semester). It serves as a fantastic record of completed work and also helps prove to myself that I really am making progress, even when it feels like I’m not.
Anyway, I hope this helps someone out there that’s just as overwhelmed and neurotic as I am every day. Good luck with classes!
And to the incoming 1Ls: don’t sweat it. You’ll be great.