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Piles and piles of files

filesLike most people, I wish I was more organized. Wishing doesn’t make it so and it’s something that I’m regularly working on. Right now, I’m interviewing apps to keep my daily To Do’s straightened out.

One area that I’ve not figured out a solution for is hard files. I have a “paperless office,” meaning that every piece of paper that is generated or received gets scanned in and is accessible on the computer. I put copies of everything in the hard files so that I have a backup but also because sometimes it is (I feel bad saying this) easier to work from a hard file.

Putting together a 10-104 for a district court auto accident case? It’s easier to put the paper medical records in order than it is to organize dozens of pages on the computer (at least until I get the three-monitor system down — sorry, Adobe Pro!). Drafting a demand? Sometimes it’s nice to have the records in front of you because it can be quicker to find things based on physical location compared to electronic location.

To stay current on my cases, I try to do something in each case at least once every two weeks. This requires that I pull out a chunk of files and go through what needs to be done. In most cases I can do a few quick projects, write down some assignments for my paralegal and put the files back in the cabinet or on my paralegal’s desk.

The more complicated the assignment, however, the more likely that the file will get put on a chair, a table, a desk or the floor next to me, where it will morph into a multi-file, unorganized To Do pile. Eventually, these piles start breeding and I end up with three or four spread out across my office, originally with some distinction between them but later with no discernible taxonomy.

I feel bad for my paralegal, who has to navigate these piles looking for the one file she needs. By this point, it’s so embarrassing that I refile everything in the cabinets, and start over.  Day 1 is perfectly organized. Day 6 the madness is starting and Day 12 is the height of my filing insanity.

I suspect the best way out of this is to to rely more on the electronic file, but I’m always worried that without the file in front of me as a reminder, I’m going to miss something. That’s why I’m still working on finding a fantastic To Do system.