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In her Motion to Organize weekly column, lawyer Jennifer Gumbel talks organization, productivity, and more.

I am a big fan of checklists. I have one for every type of law I handle. And I find them incredibly useful for any matter involving the court or some looming deadline, like a real estate closing. I set up checklists as word documents. They can be fairly short, or as long as a legal-size document, depending on complexity and the format allows for a box to check and room for notes.

Checklists are indispensable to know what needs be completed. They keep files on track. They avoid missing deadlines and show the status at a glance. They are also incredibly helpful when you have staff. Checklists can be a method of communication between people who are working on the same file. Left multiple messages for a witness? You can note it on the checklist. Filed the originals with the court? Note it on the checklist.

They also show the next step up. That allows you to pick up the file and work ahead, with less time acclimating yourself its status. That also lets staff work on keeping the file moving, even on those days they can’t corner you to get up to speed.

Try using a checklist on your next file. One sheet could help your productivity.

Jennifer Gumbel

Jennifer Gumbel is an estate planning and probate lawyer in Austin, Minnesota. She takes her morbid nerd-dom to another level by talking about how to organize your after life, with the website An Organized (after)Life and the podcast, An Organized (after)Life, which you can find on the website, Spreaker and ITunes. You can also find her on Instagram with pics on death organizing and small town Minnesota life at the handle @jengumbel.

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