As a full-time reporter and firm owner, the Christmas break holds a truly special place in my heart. Yeah, there’s the Christmas celebration itself — family, food, drinks, and gifts. But it’s more than that. It’s a magical time where the Courthouse is closed, lawyers aren’t calling, and witnesses are away. Ahhh, how lovely.
Amidst the busy social calendar, I always have grandiose plans to do the mundane things I’ve put off all year when I’m so short on time: cleaning my desk, reorganizing my office, hanging those pictures on the wall right above where they’ve been leaning, updating include files and layouts. And every year, without fail, I get absolutely none of those things done, even with all that extra time.
Now, through no choice of our own, many of us have had quite a bit of free time during the first month of the COVID-19 pandemic house arrest. What a fine opportunity to cross some of those things off my to-do list!
But a few days slipped by and then a few weeks. It’s all a bit of a blur, to be honest. And now, thankfully, counsel have started to realize that proceeding remotely is a viable means to keep their files progressing. Suddenly time is again of the essence — and my to-do list still looms.
I’m guessing we all have one of these to-do lists, things we’d get done if only we could “find the time” – perhaps practicing for a future round of NCRA certification, cleaning up our dictionaries and working towards the NCRA Realtime Contest, or reading those JCR articles we’ve set aside for future study. The fact of the matter is we do have enough time; we just don’t prioritize those tasks over others.
So I challenge you to decide what matters most to you, move it to the top of your list, and give it a deadline. With a date in your calendar, suddenly you will have a new sense of purpose and urgency for your effort. Would I be able to get myself to speed build just for the fun of it? Nope. But when there’s a Speed Contest on the horizon, it’s on. Would I have spent so much time sorting out the intricacies of remote court reporting just because? Some day, maybe. Well, “some day” arrived a month ago.
I encourage all reporters to strive to be better tomorrow than today, better next month than last, adapting to this new world we find ourselves in. Deadlines will keep you moving forward and help you accomplish the things you haven’t quite gotten around to yet.
But in times like these, maybe the most important to-do list is different — a focus on family, health, happiness, and the communities we live in. Besides, that other to-do list will still be there next Christmas anyway.
–J. Weigl, CSR(A), RMR, CRR, CRC, Three-Time NCRA Speed Contest Champion