Never Miss Another Deadline

Practice Management

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I love this time of year because my new calendar arrives and I get to start filling its clean pages up with appointments and activities for the next year.

I use both Outlook and Google Calendar, respectively, to keep my work and home lives on track, and I feed both into the calendar of my iPad to make sure my home and work worlds don’t collide, but I still prefer to reach for my paper calendar when it’s time to schedule an event or plan a trip.

For the digital generation, this probably doesn’t make much sense. After all, I have to spend time keeping the paper and digital calendars synced but, for those of us who came of age using paper and books, there is just something about flipping those pages that gives me a better sense of the spacing of events and how soon or distant something that I’m trying to schedule really is. And since I’ve been using the same Week-At-A-Glance calendar for 30 years, they are like a series of diaries that help me to remember people and events in the way that bits and bytes just don’t.

Regardless of the type of calendar you prefer, here are some tips to improve your calendaring processes:

  • In addition to calendaring important events such as hearings, filing deadlines and statutes of limitation, always set up “appointments” with the file to perform the work necessary to meet these deadlines.
  • Remember to calendar not just what you are supposed to do, but what others are supposed to do. If you request something, always note the due date for the response. In addition, always incorporate a deadline into any request you make.
  • If you still use a paper calendar, don’t calendar in pencil. But if you feel that you must, cross out necessary changes rather than erase them. If appointments or other items on your digital calendar must be changed, amend the original entry to note the change and then create a new entry to reflect the new circumstances.
  • Create a process for calendaring. If correspondence or an event triggers the need to put something on the calendar, always follow the same series of steps in creating the entry. For example, make the entry, schedule the time to do the work, and set up two separate reminders. The calendaring task is not complete until all of the steps are done. Create a checklist and follow it, if necessary.
  • Never allow a paper file to go back into the filing system without a calendar entry for the next time it is to be pulled. Never perform work on a digital file without setting up a tickler for the next date on which you should review that matter – regardless of how many other ticklers you think may be outstanding for the matter. When every file always has a “next action date” assigned before it is refilled, you eliminate the need to periodically review all files.

Careful attention to your calendaring process can help you keep a lid on chaos and stress, and never miss an important date or deadline again.