US bar offers a lawyer's perspective on working from home efficiently

American Bar Association explains why it’s important to set a daily routine

US bar offers a lawyer's perspective on working from home efficiently

With COVID-19 forcing workers of various professions into remote work set-ups, the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal devoted the latest episode of its Asked and Answered podcast to providing advice on how lawyers can work from home efficiently.

The ABA Journal spoke to Kaleo Legal partner Shauna Barnes, who works in a Virginia-based business law firm that is accustomed to working remotely. She believes that developing a schedule for the day is the main step that lawyers need to take in order to function efficiently.

“Do everything you can to set a routine; otherwise, it is too easy for you to get distracted by things around you at home, and you find yourself doing your laundry instead of drafting a contract or returning a phone call,” said Barnes.

Barnes portions her workday into blocks so that she can work on specific tasks at each point in the day, such as going through her emails and taking calls.

To limit the need for making hard copies, Barnes hooks up a second monitor to her computer to widen her screen, which also keeps her from having to switch constantly between documents. For those working with laptops, she advocates the use of a mouse rather than a touchpad.

Barnes and her colleagues also endeavour to stay in constant communication via messaging apps like Whatsapp. For instance, if she or a co-worker senses that there’s confusion in an email communication, they discuss the situation via phone for clarity.

However, they don’t just talk about work – they allow themselves a bit of entertainment too.

“It’s a way to communicate with people about all sorts of things all day – we send memes and GIFs back and forth, which is really fun!”

Finally, Barnes emphasises the importance of having an end-of-day routine in particular to avoid the problem of getting too obsessed with work.

“I think having that separation between your work and personal is crucial; otherwise, you’ll never turn it off!”

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