Work in the legal sector demands long hours and unrelenting client requests. Your firm has to meet each and every deadline, quickly and efficiently. Your attention to detail is unswervingly meticulous. Have you considered giving the same amount of consideration to your time and how it is used? The 2016 Legal Trends Report investigated the work habits of more than 40,000 lawyers, and guess how much of an average day was spent on actual billable work? Just 2.2! That’s poor performance for an average 8-hour day, so imagine what this looks like as a percentage of yours.
Does it appear as though other firms seem to get so much more accomplished more quickly than yours? Have you wondered why your office struggles with deadlines even in the midst of a flurry of activity and stress that seem never ending?
Good time management is the answer, and there are strategies that allow you to work smarter, not harder. Your time is your most valuable commodity, particularly in this business, where long hours are conventional and expected. If you can organize and plan your time to make the best use of the hours in your day, your firm will begin to reach its goals effortlessly. Stop taking excess work home with you due to inefficient productivity. Introduce small steps today to increase your output and improve career satisfaction.
You don’t want to miss deadlines or use your time ineffectively, so check out our top tips for time management in your law firm.
Make a list. Get into the habit of creating an itemized list at the end of each working day, outlining what needs to be done for the next day, and in which order. This is important to do at the end of the previous day; you will be able to better prioritize when the list is less pressing. Write down what needs to be done, list the tasks in order of importance, and worry about it the next morning. When you come into the office the next day, you will be armed with the information to make your work more efficient and timely.
Complete the most pressing or difficult tasks first. Start early and complete your more unpleasant tasks before you get started on anything new. Don’t procrastinate; if you complete your list in order of importance, the most unpleasant or difficult tasks won’t weigh on your mind all day as you avoid them. If you start with the more arduous duties when you first arrive in the office, you will also have more patience and calm to deal with them with the attention they require.
Avoid distraction. Divert your calls, and keep that mobile phone silenced. Focus all of your attention on your task, and you’ll find with practice that it is easier to concentrate and that with more focused attention, your tasks will get done sooner and with more accuracy. Give yourself blocks of uninterrupted time which are pre-scheduled for different tasks. Work on a particularly sticky case in the morning, and then move to a second block of time for returning client calls.
Repeat the formula. If you diarize your schedule and repeated activities each day, and complete the tasks in order, you’ll be prepared to tackle your tasks efficiently and in a timely fashion. This time management strategy will become natural the more you use it, so that before you know it, you’ll find a greater balance between life and work, allowing for some much-needed free time!
Use a timer. Tracking your work is an excellent resource for getting tasks done more efficiently. The tried and tested Pomodoro technique is an excellent start to help you to focus for a specific amount of time in between allotted break times, and is a great resource for output and time management. A wonderful complement to this kind of method is the use of a web app, which times your work and that of your employees to ensure you’re making the most of your work day. Recent research has revealed that using a timer to track time can improve your billable hours by up to 20%. There are many apps out there to choose from but consider eBillity’s Time Tracker, which includes a legal version of the app with a whole feature set specifically designed for law firms. Time Tracker integrates with Clio Practise Management for your business needs.
Remember: being busy does not equal productiveness.
The same amount of time in a day is available to everyone, and if you use yours wisely, you’ll be running a firm that easily reaches its goals on time, every time. High achievers are excellent at managing their time, as well as the hours allocated to their business day. If you work smart by implementing the above tips, you will have the flexibility to get your tasks done in a timely fashion, and give yourself the room to balance that with tasks you enjoy. Enjoy less stress, utilize realistic goal-setting and greater productivity with smart time management.