Colorado Supreme Court

Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel

Promoting Professionalism. Protecting the Public.

Working While Overwhelmed: Organizational and Time Management Tips

By Carrie Bowers, Program Coordinator, Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program


The practice of law requires close attention to detail, focus and concentration on a wide range of tasks and people, time management, deadlines, task follow-through, and basic organizational management. Over the course of the pandemic, many legal professionals have experienced heightened levels of stress that have negatively impacted memory, attention span, and time management. When we are overwhelmed by competing priorities, executive dysfunction can occur in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain such as difficulty within auditory processing, sustained focus, short-term memory formation, time awareness, uneven productivity, and impulsivity. Heightened levels of stress can also exacerbate several behavioral health issues, including neurodiverse issues, cognitive impairment, anxiety, depression, substance use, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)1. Whether we have a diagnosis or are experiencing symptomology of a behavioral health issue because we are overwhelmed, during times of stress we might have difficulty concentrating and distractibility that makes it hard to manage details, juggle schedules, pre-plan for projects or events, and can pose a challenge while interacting with others, socially and professionally.

There are strategies that may be helpful to someone who is feeling overwhelmed or having a hard time managing the stress of daily life when it may be difficult to "think your way out" of the brain fog. Below are free and simple tips:

These are some small adjustments you can make to help yourself meet your goals. Not all techniques are helpful for everyone. Finding what works for you may involve a process of wins and losses, or trial-and-error, but patience is sometimes hard to practice when we feel anxious and overwhelmed. Try not to get discouraged if something you try doesn't lead to the outcome you wanted. The practice of law can bring out the competitive and perfectionistic sides to our personality. This can lead us to believe that if a certain "hack" works for someone else that it should work for us as well. But we are all different, and knowing the time management or organizational techniques that don't work for us is valuable in discovering what does work. If you could use some support determining what could help you reduce stress and overwhelm, or other confidential and free support, consider reaching out to COLAP for a wellbeing consultation and/or tailored referrals.

Carrie Bowers is the Program Coordinator for the Colorado Lawyer Assistance Program and is a Certified Addiction Specialist (CAS). She received her B.A. from the University of Colorado Denver, where she is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Counseling for Clinical Mental Health. Ms. Bowers has 10 years' experience as a paralegal and legal office administrator in boutique firms specializing in criminal defense, civil rights matters, and consumer bankruptcy.