How to Index Your Paralegal’s Journal / How I Work!

I am going through some book reviews on Amazon for the Paralegal’s Journal and thought a blog post was in order to address the indexing system and show some photos of how I use the Paralegal’s Journal and how my work tends to flow daily from my Top 3 Work Tasks. Also, I have made digital download versions available on the site for those of you who wish to print the content and assemble your own spiral-bound books.  

What are the blank lines in the front of the Paralegal’s Journal?

The blank lines that begin with “13” within the Paralegal’s Journal represent an indexing system that will aid you in reflection and planning throughout the year, and keep you organized if you have to find something important later. The reason the lines begin with “13” and not “1” is because the Paralegal’s Journal is designed as a book journal, and like a traditional book, the contents do not begin on Page 1!

Pages 181 – 200 of the Paralegal’s Journal have already been pre-indexed for you with topics of: Major Projects – Goals Achieved (January – December); Continuing Education; Networking / Associations; Vendors; and Contacts. Quite frankly, utilizing these topics is what really makes this journal so much more than just a to-do list! This is a book of your life. You probably spend more hours at work than you do on anything else besides sleeping/grooming/eating/driving. Write it down and make it memorable. Make it count!

Here is a picture of the first content page, which you will see begins on Page 13.

My Top 3 Work Tasks were set as a discovery call; updating a medical chronology; and drafting a deposition summary of a client. From those tasks, you can see how my work flowed down to other tasks that generated from the first source project. For the discovery call, I had a new “Documents to Obtain” task: get the client’s surgery photos and the Verification to serve with the Interrogatory responses. From the medical chronology update, I found out from reading a visit note to the Orthopedist that the client had an MRI that she didn’t tell us about, so I made an entry about obtaining these new records and bills. I also made a note about asking our records clerk to request these new records and bills. Since the work day left me with open items, I used a “To Do” post-it tab to alert me of open items that I would need to go back to. 

I would then index this entry only with the date because there is nothing majorly important about this “typical” work day that I feel I need to remember later. For days where I have done something out of the ordinary, or helped someone in some way other than just ghosting their demand letter or drafting discovery, I would index that particular event. If there was a deposition, or a hearing I attended, I would index that. So I think of indexing in a manner of noting events or memorable wins. Otherwise, I just use the date for the index entry. 

Why Are You Even Keeping a Work Journal? Isn’t it a Waste of Time to Use This in Addition to My Firm’s Software? 

Keeping a work journal is not for everyone. I know the idea will likely overwhelm many. Some do not see the point since they manage tasks electronically with their firm’s software, and may see this as overkill or a waste of their time (luckily, none of my reviewers have said that – so thank you!). Like any journaling, a big reason that I do it is because it makes me happy to have records that prove I didn’t waste my work day. Also, I am very, very serious about my work, and I am very, very serious about tracking my achievements and documenting my wins. I would never use another person’s software to document my life. What happens if you leave the firm? Are they going to let you retroactively assemble your life? No, of course not. 

Not just that though. This is your life. Your achievements are yours to prove. If you don’t keep track of them in real-time, they are likely going to be lost to you. For those of you working in law firms who either have to go through the annual review process, or want to insert yourself in a review process to ask for a raise, don’t you think your boss is going to be more likely to approve your request when you slap this book down and say: “Look what I’ve done for you this year. Let’s look at January. Oh, yes, I can see that I authored ten policy limits demands for you and eight out of ten times limits were turned over. I believe that meant you only had to spend about 30 minutes reviewing my draft demands, but they were otherwise just as though you had written them yourself? Does that sound right to you? Excellent. Let’s turn to February. It says here that I subpoenaed and then reviewed the prior driver’s files of Harden for the Jackson trucking case and then extracted the hot docs that proved the trucker lied on his current job’s application and that the company we sued failed to conduct pre-employment background checks for the negligent trucker. All you had to do was show up an hour early before the deposition and go through these hot docs? Do you remember that? I know, that was a good case, right?! Okay, March. Oh, you’ve heard enough now? You want to just approve my raise? That’s great. I’ve got stuff I’ve got to get back to too now. Catch you on the flip! And you know I’ll call the accountant directly if that raise doesn’t show up on my next direct deposit, so you better go on and get on the horn.” 

Besides collecting evidence of your super paralegal powers, I would suggest using the journal to keep yourself positive. The legal field is a tough business. If I am having a tough time at work, I will try to be aware of noting positive things so I don’t get to that point of wanting to throw my hands up and walk away. Did I help someone today? How? What was the point of my entire day? Let’s face it, being a paralegal is often a thankless job. To be successful and happy, you will often have to motivate yourself. I’ve found that journaling keeps me positive and focused. It allows me to have a record that I did not waste today. My objective today was not “survive this day.” My objectives were accomplished. Today, I had a purpose. Did you?     

Do the work. Document the work. Be happier. Make a lot more money. It worked for me.

How to Tell if the Paralegal’s Journal is Not For You

Keeping a work journal is not for everyone. It requires you to be accountable and plan. If you meet any of the following characteristics, let’s face it. You and the Paralegal’s Journal may just not be a fit:

  • ˜      You are complacent in your job and only care about doing enough to not get fired.
  • ˜      You don’t have five minutes in the morning to plan (yet somehow you manage to lose an hour or more everyday between social media; taking breaks; making and receiving personal phone calls; and going to lunch).
  • ˜      You don’t like keeping records of your achievements and goals. Or maybe you don’t have any to track.  
  • ˜      You don’t think the journal will help serve as irrefutable evidence of why you are asking for a raise.
  • ˜      You think the Paralegal’s Journal is designed to be a replacement for your firm’s case management/calendaring software.
  • ˜      You like starting your morning in chaos – without a clear list of priority items to achieve that day. 

However, if you meet any of these characteristics, maybe the Paralegal’s Journal is designed exactly for you:

  • ˜      You understand the productivity principle of achieving the three most important tasks first thing each day.
  • ˜      You take pride in your personal achievements and love to set goals.
  • ˜      You want to keep a hard copy personal record of your achievements so they do not become lost in a third-party’s software or otherwise electronically compromised.
  • ˜      You believe in the importance and power of presenting specific tangible proof when asking for a raise.
  • ˜      You hate wasting time, and understand that you are not helping serve clients if you waste firm time.
  • ˜      You get a sense of purpose and happiness from recording your achievements each day, and it helps you stay positive in the law office.

A Look Inside the Personal Injury Journal

The indexed Personal Injury Pain Journal is now available in a larger size.

Originally created for personal injury law firm clients, this indexed journal was designed by Jamie Whitmer as a tool to potentially increase the value of Plaintiffs’ pain and suffering damages by logging and utilizing the power of specifics to help better portray the injured client as an individual instead of another set of medical records to feed into Colossus.

The injured person should mark their pain on the pain diagrams on the left side of the book and then complete the prompts on the right side of the page that include the following topics: Doctor/Facility visited today; Treatments given / tests or future treatments ordered; How are you feeling today? How did your injuries affect your job today? Did your injuries affect your household duties or family life today? Did you miss any events/social activities today because of your injuries? Did you incur any costs today that were accident related? Other notes/things to do related to the accident.

Besides the pain and suffering aspect, the indexed journals also give the injured person a tool to keep track of all their doctors and note when they finish treatment. Get your copy today!

Paralegal Life: A Look Inside the Paralegal’s Journal

Just sharing a look inside the life of a Paralegal so far on a Monday morning.

The Paralegal’s Journal is designed with prompts that are broken out into three primary topic sections of a paralegal’s work life that include: tasks; information/people to contact; and documents to obtain. Jamie Whitmer, a virtual paralegal and creator of this journal, has found that she is most effective at work if she applies a basic productivity principle of focusing first thing on three medium-to-large sized work projects per day, and thought that you might be the same! Your priority items for tomorrow are best determined at the end of your current working day. To the high achievers of the world, Jamie says: “Don’t worry!” There is plenty of room left in the notes section if you have extra time to log more projects after you have completed your top three tasks.

What does your task list look like?

An efficiency tip from a paralegal:  “Pick your top three tasks and get them done first!”  

Prioritizing your day will save you time and energy, and can also help keep you motivated and focused throughout your work day. The indexing system inside the Paralegal’s Journal also aids in reflection and planning throughout the year. The last few pages of the Paralegal’s Journal come with marked pages that have been indexed for you. Topics include: Major Projects – Goals Achieved; Continuing Education; Networking / Associations; Vendors; and Contacts. 

Jamie has often thought to herself: “I document, therefore I am.” It is her hope that this Paralegal’s Journal not only makes you feel better about your progress at work, but that it will also serve as a useful tool for you for performance evaluations. The software you use at work to manage tasks and deadlines cannot be relied upon to measure your contributions or value. What of your individual accomplishments? If you do not personally note them, it is the same as though they never existed. We must make records. We must prove what we have done, and what we can do.

Each indexed Paralegal’s Journal features 200 ruled pages that are numbered for your ease of use. The numbered pages with an index will help keep you organized and make it easy to find your important entries. To really make your brain sing, we recommend that you use tabs and update your journal’s index as necessary immediately after you have completed your morning journaling.