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We're finishing up our week of 'decluttering our office + mind' by dealing with digital data backup.

"You'll be sorry you didn't!" - Mom

Last month my basement flooded and the water destroyed everything in its path.

I had meant to check on the sump pump earlier in the day. But the phone rang, laundry needed to be done...life happened. What would've taken me all of 60 seconds to check on ended up costing me a back-breaking 3 days of work ripping out (heavy wet) carpet and dealing with the messy, stinky aftermath of a flooded basement.

Which brings me to backing up computer data.

Back up your data. We all know we should do it. It doesn't take much in the way of time or resources. So why do so many of us drag our feet getting it done - when the consequences for not doing so are disastrous?

No more. Today, we're going to take a look at a few simple solutions for backing up our electronic data, and pledge to 'Get-R-Done.' That way, we don't have to spend any unnecessary time or energy worrying about losing those files, pictures, and contacts we just can't do without.

The power of three. Backing up can be as simple as copying a file from one spot to another (e.g., from your desktop to a removable USB drive). It can also include uploading your files to the cloud, or installing a file-synchronization service.


We've dealt with decluttering our desks (Monday) and our minds (Tuesday and Wednesday). Today we're turning our attention to downsizing digital clutter, starting with the inbox.

Achieving Inbox Zero (or Close to It)

Go take a look at the number of emails currently in your inbox. (We'll wait.) Is it zero? If so, congrats, you've already reached the mythical Inbox Zero. Go celebrate. For the rest of us (festivus!), is it 50? 500? 5,000? Does your number stress you out? What would be your ideal number?

Knowing your comfort level will help you manage your inbox. For many of us, Inbox Zero is not realistic, but Inbox 100 just might be. Here's how we can get there...

Delete, Repeat. This one is simple, and you're probably already doing it to some degree. But if your inbox number is upwards of 3 figures, you're a prime candidate for a batch delete. To batch delete, sort your inbox by sender. Twenty emails sitting around from J.Crew? Delete them as a batch by clicking on the sender then delete. Repeat for all unwanted emails/senders.

Another helpful tip is to sort your inbox by subject. If you've got a long thread of emails using the same subject line, and the last one contains all of the earlier replies, consider just holding on to that last one and getting rid of the rest. (Tip courtesy of our Membership Coordinator Ann Boucher!)


Your challenge for today is to dim the lights in your office, sit (in lotus position) on your newly decluttered desk, close your eyes, and hum for the next 30 minutes.


Just kidding! Sort of anyway.

Today we're learning how to incorporate a few minutes of mindfulness into our professional lives to help us cope with work-related stress and push the reset button on our mind.

What is mindfulness? While it sounds new-agey, mindfulness has been practiced by people for thousands of years. At its core, it is being in a state of awareness.

Why is it so popular? Most of us are flying on autopilot throughout the day. Our frantic lives leave us on edge, stressed, and wondering where the day went. Mindfulness is a way to counteract those tendencies by connecting with what's going on around us and within us. Short of going on a tech-detox or taking a mental health day, it's one one of the best - and easiest - things you can do for yourself to improve your day.

Like monotasking, mindfulness also improves productivity, which helps explain why the practice of mindfulness has made its way into the corporate culture at numerous companies, like Google, Target and General Mills.


What is monotasking? Simply put, it's the art of carrying out one task at a time.

Why everyone should be doing it... The antithesis of multitasking, monotasking helps improve your memory, cut down on errors, and increase your productivity. And if that isn't enough to convince you, monotasking can also make your work feel more enjoyable.  

...Except for these people. Like Mensa, only 2% of the population are true multitaskers, or 'supertaskers.' For these lucky few, their performance doesn't suffer when they do different things simultaneously - it sometimes gets better. For most of us though, our brain can't handle the overload. Take the test to find out where you stand.

5 Steps to Monotasking


This week we're tackling the clutter — physical, electronic and mental — that weighs us down at work. So without further ado, let the desk transformation begin...

Purge with a purpose. When deciding what to get rid of, Japanese cleaning guru Marie Kondo recommends asking yourself...'Does this spark joy?' If the answer is no, get rid of it. Tell it 'thanks' on the way out. #goodkarma

But be smart about it. Work-related items require more consideration. So before you pitch that client file that doesn't make you happy, also ask...'Is this something I need for work?' If no, say 'thanks' and send it on its way. If yes...

Go green if you can. Scan it, e-file it, back it up electronically. Need more guidance on client file (and information) retention requirements? Refer to ISBA Professional Conduct Advisory Opinion No.17-02.

Repeat for every item on your desk. If you've got time, also go through your desk drawers and shelves until only the items that spark joy or are required for work remain.


22 Days to a Decluttered Office + Mind and a Polished Professional Presence.

Ready to have some fun, do a little spring cleaning, and find your office 'A' game?

Sign up to take the Desk4Success Challenge and enter the Grand Prize drawing.

You'll receive a daily challenge in your Inbox from May 1-31 (normally delivered @6AM weekdays, excluding Memorial Day). Challenges cover decluttering your office and mind, polishing your professional presence, timesaving tech tips, and office wellness.

Participate in our social challenges for a chance to win additional prizes. Follow us on Instagram (@isbalawyers) to play.


Sign up for the Desk4Success Challenge and enter our grand prize drawing for 2 tickets to 'Hamilton: An American Musical' in Chicago or a $500 Visa Gift Card.

Only 1 entry per member will be accepted.