Five Ways to Improve Your Focus

improve-focusDo you struggle with focus at work (or, hey, at home)? What tips and tricks have you found to improve your focus?  I am always looking for the best ways to improve my focus, but keep coming back to a few ideas…

  1. Eat that frog. I have yet to read the book of the same name by Brian Tracy, but I really like the idea: whatever you’re procrastinating on most — your “frog” — get it done first thing in the morning.  As in: eat the frog. (Half of the trick here is knowing what your frog is!)  Once the frog is out of the way, I find that my mental focus is a lot better — or, at least, I’m free to procrastinate on other things. [Read more…]

Apps for Working Women: What Are Your Favorites?

apps-for-professional-womenLadies, what are your favorite apps for working women?  I rounded up some of my favorite Android apps  a few years ago, but now that I’ve switched over to iPhone (in December 2014), I’ve been collecting an ever growing list…

  • Pocket.  After our post on information overload, I did such a good job of getting my Pocket cleaned up, primarily thanks to dumping stuff that was “for later” in Evernote.  (At one point I went from something like 1250 articles to read later, down to 200 articles.) Then I got pregnant and had another baby, and it’s out of control again. The app has stopped counting, though, so I’m not sure how bad it is — I just opened the app on my phone and it said it was downloading a 158 new ones.  Sigh.  At least I’m never short on reading materials…
  • CalenMob.  I love my Google Calendars, and have several — a personal one, one to schedule Corporette stuff, one for my sons’ stuff, etc. — and it never seemed like iPhone’s native calendar did a good job of syncing them.  CalenMob bridges the gap for me. There is a free version and a “pro” version for $6.99 — I just bought the pro version.
  • Sheets. Excel seems to be my default program of choice these days, so I like being able to edit everything in Sheets.
  • If This Then That.  I’m still playing around with this one, but Lifehacker is perpetually in love with it.  What recipes are you guys using?
  • Key Ring.  Handy for when you have a bunch of store cards/loyalty cards and don’t want to carry them all with you, so you can scan the bar codes and so forth into the app.
  • Pinterest.  I love this for collecting visual ideas — decor things I want to try, outfits I like, etc.  You can follow us at http://pinterest.com/corporette.
  • Evernote.  I use this like Pinterest, but for articles.  I’m still figuring out how to make the most of it, to be honest, but it was a great way to unload my Pocket reading list when I first started.
  • Dropbox. As I mentioned at CorporetteMoms in our post on organizing family photos, I love Dropbox — we first started using it back when I was on Android and my husband was on iPhone (and I’m also just generally suspicious of Apple’s iCloud stuff), and the love continues.
  • Sleep Cycle.  I’m still searching for the best “hack your sleep” app; at the moment I like Sleep Cycle.
  • Seven.  This app is great if you want a really focused workout — it’s a seven minute HIIT workout, inspired by a NYT article.  Do multiple cycles to get the most effect, of course, but even one cycle can help.  I also just downloaded the app Seconds to try to find a way to put HIIT intervals on top of music (but haven’t had a chance to try it out yet).
  • DarkSky.  Wondering what the weather will be like in the next HOUR? Dark Sky is great for that — it was designed by two people who were driving cross country, and happened to get stuck inside the rest stop without umbrellas when one of those out-of-nowhere storms hit.  Would it last ten minutes or an hour?  They didn’t know, so they created an app for it.
  • Other basic must-haves: Seamless. Fresh Direct. Open Table. Shazam.  I don’t read a ton on Kindle (see my out-of-control Pocket list, ha) but I have that on there too.

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How to Be Productive When You Work in an Open Office

open-office-adjustmentReaders, do you have any tips for how to work productively in an open office? What advice do you have for someone struggling to adjust to one? Reader K wonders…

I’d love to hear your and readers thoughts about open office plans in the legal environment, such as in the recent article Google Got It Wrong: The Open Office Trend is Destroying Workplaces. In my job at a large non-profit that also has a legal help line, the lawyers, except for legal director, are in cubicles. 2 lawyers spend 1/2 their time doing phone intake. The rest do typical legal research and writing. I have asked about ways of reducing noise/less open space, but am told to just deal with it. My question is whether in the legal industry in general there is an expectation that lawyers should be able to have quiet spaces to work. Looking back on K-12, college, and law school, I always found quiet places to work, and was efficient. My teachers noticed that I was a great writer and really distractable, so they made sure I had a quiet place to work. Now, as a lawyer, I wish there was a quiet space I could escape to do my best work, like I did for 19 years of school. I’d take a pay cut!

Interesting question, reader K. I’ve worked in cubicles (back in my magazine days), a closed-door office environment (back in my BigLaw days), and an open-door office environment (back in my nonprofit days)… so I’ve never worked in a truly open office. While I’m really curious to hear what the readers say, I have a few ideas that may be of help:

[Read more…]

How to Organize Your Office

How to Organize Your Office | CorporetteLet’s talk about a subject near and dear to our hearts, ladies: how do you organize your office and your work (or otherwise get things done)? We’ve talked about cute office supplies, the best notebooks, planners, and office padfolios — as well as how to keep notes to CYA — but we haven’t talked about this directly.  Reader A wonders:

I would love to see more articles on the best ways to organize your work in the office, i.e., a folder with separate notes for each project or client v. one notebook for all meetings/projects, how to organize your day or to-do list, how to turn meeting notes into a to-do list, etc. I’d also love some suggestions on day planners, notebooks, and other office supplies.

Fun topic!  Personally, when I was a lawyer, I played around with having a single notebook per case, as well as having one notebook or notepad that I grabbed whenever I was heading out to take notes.  If memory serves I finally settled on a folder system — I would keep one “general” folder with all of my initial notes from prior pleadings and general strategy notes, and then I’d start a new folder for each major assignment I was tasked with (memo, research, portion of a brief, whatever).  I would keep the recent and active folders near my desk in a folder tower (where each case had its own little slot — something similar to what I had is pictured above), and then move them to a filing drawer or redweld once the case was Really Truly Over, or once the assignment got stale enough and I needed more room closest to my desk. (Oh, and I love my label maker.) [Read more…]

How to Manage Your Time

How To Manage Your Time | CorporetteHow do you manage your time, either to meet billable minimums, stay motivated and productive, or to fit everything into your life? February is time management month — and we haven’t talked about how best to manage your time in a while. Here’s Reader T’s question:

Would you consider doing a post on billable hours – specifically, what people’s minimum requirements are, and how they go about meeting and/or exceeding those minimums? My firm requires 2000 hours and I had a horrible time last year just making the minimum. I swore this year would be different, but it seems I am back to my old ways. What do people do to stay continuously motivated and productive?

I recognize that this question is geared toward the lawyers who read your site, but maybe others have similar goals/requirements that they have to satisfy?

Great question!  I haven’t been in a billables environment for a while (and even then, my firm had no required minimum), but time management is something I still struggle with daily, so I’m curious to hear what readers say. My top tips are: [Read more…]

Open Thread: The Best Apps for Helping with Information Overload

How to Deal with Information Overload | Corporette (my brain feels like this desk!)I’m curious, ladies — am I the only one who is crushed by the overwhelming amount of information hurtling my way on a daily basis?  I get about 600 emails daily.  Every time I log on to Facebook or Twitter I end up throwing at least 5 new articles onto my “read it later” list via Pocket (which now has something like 1150 unread articles).  Pinterest seems like a bottomless pit of recipes and DIY projects that I know I’ll never try but decide to Pin anyway.  Not to mention the numerous magazines I get monthly, and the 1000s of RSS feeds in my Netvibes reader. (In fact, when I first started this blog I swore I would never do more than a few posts a day because I had stopped reading other blogs like Jezebel and Gawker, overwhelmed by the sheer number of posts every day.)  So… how do you deal with information overload?  I have a few suggestions, but I’m really curious what you guys do — do you rely on certain apps?  Do you have methods (like maintaining inbox zero, or declaring email bankruptcy on a regular basis)? What helps?

For my $.02: [Read more…]