An ordinary working day of a Lawyer would usually mean working 12 hours a day. The constant demands for assistance from clients at times would mean working 24 hours. Hard work is considered as a medal of honor in one's career as a lawyer; working smart is essential to make the Lawyer more productive and efficient.
For Lawyers, losing even a second of their time can mean a death sentence. Time management allows them to make the most of their precious hours and maximizing each working day.
If you intend to join the legal profession, you need to work on managing your time well, to avoid being continuously stressed. Come to think of it; you have been practicing proper time management during your law studies.
Time management is the development of means and using tools that can increase the productivity and efficiency of an individual. It is one of the best practices in business because it has been known to increase the bottom line.
Time management today has evolved to include embracing working as well as personal lives. It plays a significant role in the work-life balance of everyone, thus ensuring general fulfillment and management.
The theory of work-life balance is not widely accepted, as many people believe that such an approach can never exist. They think that if there is life and there is Work, there is no balance. Following this trend of thought, applying proper time management gives value to one's personal life.
Some typical Lawyers would have a work email address. They would also usually have a separate phone number for office, home, and mobile phone. With the increasing popularity of social media, a Law Firm would also have a LinkedIn and Facebook, etc., accounts.
These all mean that when clients, the law firm, and its staff, need to immediately get in touch with a lawyer, aside from being called on the phone, they can be texted, emailed, tweeted, and faxed. Under these working conditions, it is not surprising for lawyers to think that they are pooled in almost all directions and get used to at least multi-tasking. The art of time management, therefore, allows you to reduce stress while improving productivity in your law practice. Enhancing your management skills is a continuous process because you will have to weed out any of the bad habits you may have had for many years.
Time is the most precious element you have at work. The time and effort you invested to complete your Law Degrees is no mean feat. To put all that hard work into good use, it is only proper that you invest some time in enhancing your time management skills and techniques and effectively apply to do more work at the least time possible.
There are programs available for lawyers to address their unique time and organizational challenges. These programs aim to provide practical techniques for managing paperwork, client interactions, court appearances, and also themselves.
There are no Pro-forma rules on how to approach productivity because of the varying personalities, environments, preferences, and habits. The secret lies in finding the right techniques, strategies, and tools that fit your approach and style.
Here are the steps you need to take in preparation for coming up with your time management techniques:
Make a list of everything you do on a regular workday for at least a week. Take note of any patterns you may have and where you spend most of your time. Use this as a basis on where you can improve.
Make a to-do list and prepare your calendar. Are you more productive during the day or at night? Schedule, most of your workload on the time of day where you are the most productive and have the most energy. Take note of any possible interruptions.
Learn how to reject tasks that will not help achieve your goals or the goals of your firm. If you have procrastination issues, deal with it head-on by identifying reasons why you procrastinate and break down big tasks into manageable ones.
• Save Time by Using a Timers
Timers can help you save time on things you need to do that are non-billable. Focus on one task for a particular time and take frequent breaks, so you do not get over fatigued. Here is what you can do:
• Pick a particular task
• Set the timer at 30 minutes
• Focus only on your chosen task for the next 30 minutes
• When the timer rings, take a five-minute break
Do this task repeatedly. You can take longer breaks if you need to do multiple cycles one after the other.
• Minimize Switching Tasks
Many say that multitasking can be dangerous. For busy lawyers, though, it can be necessary because of their humongous work. You can avoid the dangers of multitasking by focusing on doing one thing at a time and minimize switching tasks.
When you leave a certain task un-finished to switch to another task, it can take a couple of minutes to re-establish your focus when you get back on your unfinished job. If you often turn assignments, re-establishing focus can take up to 30% of your productivity.
To avoid switching tasks, set a schedule for the regular things you need to do: returning calls of clients, checking emails, and checking invoices. Avoid going back and forth between these tasks.
Another thing you can do is similar group tasks like, for example, checking emails and electronic invoices but avoid inter-mixing your phone tasks with computer tasks. Also, you can divide your workday into billable and non-billable tasks.
The time management concept states that 20% of your time creates 80% value. In your law practice, focus more on billable Work. Always do billable Work first. When possible, delegate administrative and non-billable tasks to your staff. If you work solo, make use of Technology to lessen administrative Work.
• Make Use of Apps
Some apps can help you in time management and improve your law practice. You can use a to-do-list app instead of the out-dated pen-and-paper or a Word document.
You certainly want to give the best to your clients so you can be a great lawyer. There are certain pitfalls in time management that you need to avoid:
• Taking on too much Work
It is easier to take on more than what you can handle, but this is when you will start having trouble with time management. It is universal nature to say that you can add in a few more hours at Work to complete all your tasks. But then again, you are not machines. You will get tired at some points, and it can affect your productivity. Great lawyers know when you say no.
• Allowing too many Interruptions
Block off a particular time of your workday where you will have no visitors or phone calls. Make sure to be strict on this rule.
• Doing Everything Yourself
Learn to delegate at every opportunity. Some lawyers, especially the new ones, more often do not like to delegate or do not know the right way to do it.
To maximize your time, as much as possible, do not put Work off. Stick to your schedule. Procrastination often results from not knowing what to do next.
• Not taking advantage of Technology
Technology can save you many hours every day and will benefit your law practice. Technology also allows you to be more effective and productive by simplifying time management by automating billing and calendaring, among many things.
Time management is an essential practice to ensure a successful law practice. It will ensure that you give your clients and other tasks the right amount of time and focus they need. Effective time management can give you extra hours to ensure success in your personal and professional life, and will positively affect your finances, too.