The best things in life are free. But then there’s a whole ton of stuff you gotta pay for.
And when it comes to milking every last ounce of productivity out of your day, you don’t need to shell out for fancy executive coaches, sophisticated day planners, and related tools. In fact, below’s a list of great purchases that can get you organized, make you more relaxed, and focus your brainwaves on providing the best service to your clients.
1) Behance Action Method Notebook @$15.00
I’ll admit: fifteen bucks is a bit much for a notebook. But you only have to buy one Action Method Notebook once, then any spiral bound dime store notebook can be converted into a killer system.
The Action Method divides the page up into logical sections: each day you write a new to-do list on the right-hand column, and your notes go on the left. Get an idea for a future task or project? Those go in the same place each day – the backburner section.
Productivity-wise, this was the finest fifteen bucks I ever spent. And get the orange notebook – it’s a lot more fun than the grey one.
2) Wind-Up Kitchen Timer @ $10.00
Readers of Legal Productivity know we’re big fans of The Pomodoro Technique, which requires a kitchen timer and the will to work on one task without interruption for 25 minutes. For those of us who suffer from a constant state of distraction and fall prey to checking tweets, emails, and status updates incessantly, working in uninterrupted 25 minute chunks will change your life.
This wind up timer by Amco has an elegant, rugged, retro feel, which should tick loud enough to keep your interruptors out of the office.
3) Colored Pencils @ $8.00
Don’t laugh, and please suspend judgement for a second while I describe why a lawyer should grab a pack of Crayolas. I know: the recommended age on colored pencils is 3-8 years. But I first got the idea of using colored pencils by a med student, who would use them to highlight her voluminous study materials with different colors. Since then, I’ve used them every day of my work life to underline and highlight my notes and circle text in books.
Usually I pick out a different color each day and use it in conjunction with my Action Method notebook. Now that I no longer need the manufactured Action Method notebook, I use colored pencils to divide up the pages of my plain ‘ol generic notebook into Action sections, as well as seperate my to-do items from my meeting-generated chicken scratch.
But don’t, under any circumstance, doodle any flowers or tiny little houses in the margins of your legal pad. It doesn’t show well in front of clients or judges.
4) Knock-off Earbuds @ $5.95
You know what’s great about headphones? They tell people “don’t interrupt me,” which saves a lot of time and eliminates catching up on work on the weekends. Listening to music while you work also helps focus your mind. And earbuds with microphones also keep cell phone radiation away from your head, which is a disconcertingly disputed topic (witness the book Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry HasDone to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family).
The other great thing about earbuds is how cheap they are. You don’t have to go to the Apple store to pick up a pair for thirty bucks. Ebay and Amazon are loaded with imitation earbuds (and iPhone chargers for that matter) which work pretty well. I bought a bunch of them, and threw one in my office, one in my briefcase, and one in my gym bag.
5) A Yoga Class @ $15.00
Yoga relieves stress as well as assists with core stretches and strengthening which help with chair-based knowledge work. For desk-bound, stressed out lawyers, I highly recommend trying out a Yoga class, which is usually priced around $15 for a single session. Bulk sessions usually bring the price down to $12.
No time for a class? Don’t have the fifteen bucks? Follow along with our video, 7 Yoga Poses To Enhance Productivity For Busy Legal Professionals.
6) Brian Eno’s Music for Airports @ $6.99
Brian Eno’s weird little album from 1978 focuses your brainwaves and puts you at ease, allowing you to reduce stress, eliminate distractions, and concentrate. Believe it or not, Music For Airports launched a genre of “ambient sound” and was designed for Laguardia Airport to put travelers at ease and reduce stress.
I listened to this Eno album and others quite a bit when I coded the first version of our legal cloud software Rocket Matter – it helped me block out the world, get into a deep state of focus, and knock the programming out quickly.
For the computer enthusiasts out there, a tidbit from history: Eno composed the startup chime for Windows 95. Apparently, Microsoft needed all the stress reduction possible after a blue screen of death reboot.
7) D’Autrefois Pinot Noir @ 10.99
I’m not advocating you consume an entire bottle of wine at one sitting. But I’m a big fan of melting the day away after work (especially after a grueling session with colored pencils). For me, wine is a big ingredient in work life balance, and is one of my favorite ways of demarcating that barrier and starting the reboot for the following day.
Somehow we ended up picking up a bottle of D’Autrefois Pinot Noir, which has quickly become one of our faves and is our standard bottle. I should point out, I always like hearing feedback but this wine category is where I’m most interested in what you have to say. So if you have any good wines, let me know!