3 Tips For Using A Journal In Your Solo Practice

By Joleena Louis - September 30, 2015
3 Tips For Using A Journal In Your Solo Practice

In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, Joleena Louis gives us 3 great tips for successfully using a journal in your solo practice.

One of the best tools I’ve found for my practice is a simple spiral notebook. Some call theirs a diary, I call mine a journal.  

A journal helps me to achieve four major things:

  1. Better organization,
  2. Timeliness with billing,
  3. Tracking of my goals, and
  4. Better lawyering and business management.

All of this is accomplished by keeping a daily work log, which I lovingly call “The Book.” I had the idea for The Book very early in my practice and I recommend it to everyone — even non-lawyers.

Here are  a few tips on how to better manage your practice with the use of a journal.

1.  Find the writing tool that works best for you.

I’m a technology junkie, so initially I tried to keep the journal in digital format on Evernote.

The problem for me was if I wanted to jot down notes while on the phone or a had a quick idea to write, logging into the app was too much of a hassle.

Next, I tried a small palm sized journal that I could easily carry in my purse or pocket, but my illegible handwriting on small, unlined pages was not working so I had to adjust.  

Finally, I settled on a basic spiral notebook that was easy to carry but easier on my eyes. It also satisfied my need to write things down.

A journal helps @JoleenaLouisLaw better manage her firm Click To Tweet

2.  Create a system for yourself to follow.

To succeed with anything, it has to become a natural part of your daily routine.

I start each day on a blank page by writing my 1-3-5 to-do list.

I keep my to-do list in my practice management software. However, reviewing and handwriting it down again each morning shifts my mind into work mode.

Throughout the day I’ll jot down time I spend on tasks, notes from phone calls, and random thoughts and ideas. I used to write these things on Post-Its but I would usually end up losing  them most of the time.

Not only is doing it this way inefficient, but every minute wasted adds up to potentially billable time.

By keeping these things in my notebook I can accurately keep track of my billing and keep detailed notes on my phone calls. Having good notes allows me to more easily transfer information to my case management software at the end of the day.

Doing it this way also helps me focus because I can quickly jot down a random thought and then get back to the task at hand.

To succeed with anything, it has to become a natural part of your daily routine Click To Tweet

3.  Use your journal to log what you feel is most important.

People use journals for various reasons, but it is crucial to use it to log what is most important to you. Otherwise, implementing a system will not work.

I find that my journal is best used for goals and reflecting.

At the end of the day I spend 10 minutes reflecting on my day. I ask myself what I accomplished that day, what lessons I learned that day, and what I would to do make tomorrow better.

This exercise keeps me reflecting on my goals daily and has me constantly thinking of ways to be better.

Keeping a journal is such a simple process that provides so many benefits that could be useful to any solo.

While keeping myself more organized, I also keep myself accountable.

Do you use a journal in your solo practice? Something else? Comment below and tell us your thoughts!

About Joleena Louis

Joleena Louis is a matrimonial and family law attorney at Joleena Louis Law, a firm she founded after leaving a boutique matrimonial firm in Brooklyn. Joleena is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Financial District location. Her weekly blog series Things I Wish I Knew... explores her thought process and experiences in her transition from small law firm employee to successful solo practice entrepreneur. Follow Joleena on Twitter.

2 thoughts on “3 Tips For Using A Journal In Your Solo Practice

  1. I use a journal of sorts. I do a few things with it every day:

    1. Gratefulness – I write down one thing I’m grateful for for my kids and my wife.

    2. My successful day is… three words that describe what makes my day good.

    3. The three things I must do to reach my goals are: answer this query.

    4. Reflect on my day yesterday.

    I think everyone should do something like this. It helps to nail down the things that are important to you for the day and remind yourself why you are going to go to work and bust your butt.


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