Conquering Boredom As A Document Reviewer

Conquering Boredom As A Document Reviewer

I may be a contract attorney, but the currency of my trade is boredom. I specialize in the very mundane tasks that newbie attorneys hope to one day outgrow. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t actually get better. Looking through the minutiae of corporate records can make the prospect of watching grass grow appealing — at least then you wouldn’t be risking carpal tunnel syndrome. For my own sanity, I’ve had to devise a pantheon of distraction techniques.

Add to that the temporary nature of contract work — I constantly move around changing jobs and employers… each of which have their own, unique security/privacy set-ups and websites. What may be easy to access on one project can be verboten on the next, so you have to have options.

Which brings us to the eternal question: what do you do to get through the day?

No. The answer I am looking for is not “have a flask at your desk.” Though throughout my tenure in the world of document review I have seen people loaded at work, and no matter how subtle they think they’re being somehow they wind up quickly cut from the project.

I’m talking about entertainment, what are the distractions you use to occupy part of your brain while still clicking through 100 doc/hour?


My go to distraction is a podcast. Podcasts keep my mind occupied while my eyes are free to scan documents looking for that single word that makes a document responsive. Everyone is obsessed with Serial right now. For the uninitiated, Serial is a season long investigation of a single story, and for this, its inaugural season it explores a 1999 Baltimore murder. It’s engrossing with a little bit of a cool cache — and when is the last time a podcast had that?

For those looking for lighter fare, I’d recommend The Solid Verbal, it’s a college football show that broadcasts twice weekly during the season. With the NCAA adopting the playoff format for the first time this year and the cannibalistic SEC West wreaking havoc on itself there’s no shortage of stuff to talk about. The hosts are fun and casual and make ample use of a soundboard to accent the chatter.

If you need something even lighter there are a ton of comedy podcasts out there, but the quality, well, they can be hit or miss. So instead of investing the time and bandwidth to download something that may be distinctly unfunny I check out Today’s Comedy on Pandora. It’s broken down into individual bits, so if something’s a little dodgy it’s easy to give it a thumbs down. Low risk, high reward. Just be careful not to bust out laughing at an inappropriate time.


This one is a little trickier since it can be a challenge to argue that you really were doing your job if you get caught streaming videos. The good news is that your streaming options are more prolific than ever, every network and cable company has the service available, not to mention the bounties that await you on Netflix and Hulu. And if you have an HBO Go password by all means catch up on Girls if that’s your thing. However, I’m hesitant to use services I need to log into while I’m at work, but my paranoia about getting caught is mostly irrational.

The upside is seasons 1-4 of High Maintenance is available online without any log on required (though the new season is premium $$$ content on Vimeo). This web series is an arthouse worthy exploration of a weed delivery guy and his clients. Though “The Guy” is only a minor character in each episode, he and his job, provide the narrative thread binding it all together.

For absolute childish ridiculousness I like watching Video Game High School. It images a world where you actually go to school to major in playing video games. Sure, maybe this one is total wish fulfillment escapism, but I enjoy imaging a world where I don’t waste my life.

Then there’s My Gimpy Life, a funny and unflinching look at a wheelchair bound actress attempting to make it in Hollywood. And once you’ve seen star Teal Sherer deal with the hilarious indignity of auditioning in an alley because the audition space isn’t accessible, you have to laugh at your own crummy job.

Low Tech

Sometimes the law firm/vendor/client you’re working for actually knows its stuff, going out of its way to eliminate all distractions and create lean, mean coding machines. All non-relevant websites are blocked on your review computer and there isn’t a loophole to be found. Phones and other personal devices are stored in labeled drawers and not to be used in the review space. Minesweeper has even been deleted off the Clinton administration computer you’re using. So now what?

Now’s the time to get creative. And I don’t mean creative like making something, though I’ve certainly seen my fair share of wanna-be-something-other-than-a-lawyers armed with a legal pad and a pen furiously scribbling away. But rather I mean it’s time to think outside the box. Like a page ripped from a sudoku book, hidden behind the top sheet of a legal pad. Or dig up an old school iPod. One of those ancient white bricks, an subscription, and A Song of Ice and Fire got me through three months of a loan file review.

So fellow bored document reviewers, what’s your favorite workplace distraction?
Source: Above The Law

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