Lawyers are required to spend long hours in their office, dealing with different cases and clients or doing the paper job.
However, it’s always when they enjoy doing the job. They struggle with burnout and stress.
So how much time should you spend? How you can get more work done without investing too much time?
Well, to understand what can increase productivity and if you are feeling frustrated and overwhelmed, the solution here is for you to learn time management skills.
And for that, here are some of the tips that can help.
- Lawyer Time Management Issues
- Tips For Lawyers And Why They Need Time Management Skills?
- Use The Apps
- Minimize The Cost Of Switching Between Tasks
- Consider Using A Time Saver
- Respect The Rule Of 80/20
- Use The Calendars And To-Do List
- Set The Deadlines
- Stop Doing The Multitasking
- Don’t Do Over Commitment And Ask for Help
- Take The Best Advantage Of Technology
- Organize Where You Work
- Use The Electronic Calder And Desk Diary
- File The Incoming Paper
- Use Trash Cans
- Minimize The Interruptions
- Create Shortcuts
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Lawyer Time Management Issues
Time management is no doubt helpful for lawyers who tend to waste more than needed time.
But it’s also important that you are aware of some basic issues, and it includes :
Taking On Too Much Of Work
When you want to help, it’s actually very easy to say yes, and that is where most of your time management issues begin.
You might convince yourself that there is no issue with adding a few hours on top of what you are working on. But remember, you are not a machine, and at some point, the adrenaline will start to drop.
It leads your body and brain not to keep up with what you are doing. So more time you are investing in overwork, this will end up wasting energy and tiring yourself.
Allowing The Interruptions
Create the rule for yourself, it can be one to two hours, and set it on a daily basis. In these hours, you won’t let anyone disturb you, including yourself. So no matter if it’s a knock on the door or a call, stand with a firm no.
When you are allowing constant interruption, this divides your attention, and every time you try to get back your work, it takes a toll on your productivity and time management.
Inaccurately Estimation And Capturing Time
If you are constantly working until the wee hours to complete the projects and the last minute, you find yourself taking more house than you thought
This is a serious problem that you are estimating at the wrong hours. And end up adding hours which is less for the project.
So even though you are eager to present yourself as the best and impress, it’s best to believe when you promise, and for that, you need to estimate the right hours.
And in a profession where you charge per hour when you are writing off time, it makes you lose money too.
Getting Trapped To Procrastination
Optimizing time, especially when you are not putting work off. If you are procrastinating it’s time to give it a thought and find out why you are doing it.
Take some time and do research to find out the reasons and what triggers you.
Maybe it’s your client as they are difficult to work with or not paying enough. So to solve this, you need to be selective and change clients in order to avoid the slump.
Being The Perfect Lawyer
It’s important that you know that not every single thing around you requires 100% of your attention.
Learn what is needed to be perfect and what can be avoided. Do the evaluation of what is holding in the first rank on your priority list and change it if it’s needed.
Doing Everything On Yourself
Delegate when you get the chance since a lot of lawyers, especially new partners, hesitate to delegate or don’t do it well.
This ends up with investing everything in your time and energy. To find the right person with the right skill who can help you in doing work, but don’t abandon the tasks. Do oversee the work, so you have updates, but avoid micromanaging.
Tips For Lawyers And Why They Need Time Management Skills?
There is no doubt that being a lawyer means your job is going to be demanding.
Some so many lawyers spend around 12 hours a day, and it’s not even ordinary. Since they constantly have to focus on their partners and clients, even though you take the badge of honor in the legal profession, it’s more important to do smart work.
You can start by allocating your time better, according to an analysis report released from Legal Trends Report, conducting the survey and tracking the work habits of more than 40,000 lawyers. They found that they spend 2.2 hours on billable work, which is a paltry 28% of a modest eight hours of the overall workday.
In an industry where every second counts, losing the quietest of the billable time can be a huge loss.
To manage your time well and take control of your precious seconds, minutes, and hours, so you are getting most of the day, here are some of the tips that you should consider.
Use The Apps
There are more than 2 million apps that android and apple are offering at this moment.
Within that, you get hundreds of useful apps for managing time better and improving time management practices.
Some of the obvious options that you get include Trail Pad ( it’s for the paperless trials presentations ) and Fastcase ( ideal for the faster legal reserves).
But it’s better to choose the apps designed especially for your period.
For example, there are apps that can help as they are business card readers and make it easy as well as effortless to track the contracts. To-do list apps that help in upgrading you from a word document or pen and paper.
Minimize The Cost Of Switching Between Tasks
Well, multitasking is dangerous, but when you are a lawyer, there are a lot of things that you have on your plate, and even though it seems necessary, you better focus on one thing at a time.
This can help you in minimizing the cost of switching tasks.
When you switch between the tasks, it takes you several minutes to shift and reestablish the focus.
So when you do it more often, it can end up eating up around 40% of productivity.
To minimize the cost, you should start with :
- Focusing on tasks for an extended period of time.
- Switching rapidly back and forth will increase the cost even though it’s only two tasks.
- Set a block of time to check emails, return calls and check the invoices.
However, if you can’t focus on one thing, then find the tasks which share similarities and can be combined in similar groups. This will lower costs compared to two completely different tasks in nature.
For example, don’t put tasks related to computers with your phone.
Consider Using A Time Saver
Timers are not just good for tracking your billable hours, but they can help you in saving time on tasks that are non-billable.
Techniques like Pomodoro, invented in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, force you to focus on one single task and set the period. This helps in reducing the number of task switching while you take breaks frequently in order to avoid mental fatigue.
To make it work, you need to start with
- Picking a task, you need to do
- Put a timer and set it for 25 minutes.
- Focus on that single task and get it done within 25 minutes
- Now take the five minutes of a break when your timers go off.
- Repeat this Pomodoro as much as you need to get the work done
- The longer your Pomodoro, the time for a break will increase too
The main idea behind using the Pomodoro is to keep yourself focused. But also keep yourself mentally and physically fresh enough to keep the product increasing instead of declining.
Respect The Rule Of 80/20
You can use the rule of 80/20 in different aspects of your life. But when it comes to your work, it’s suggested that your 20% of actions should be responsible for 80% of the value you have created.
It does hold true meaning, especially in the legal profession. You can use it by giving more attention to the time you are spending doing the billable work.
When you prioritize the tasks, I make sure that you are doing the works which are actually billable and delegating the administration to staff.
However, if you are working solo, you can consider using the other option, which can help you in saving time.
Use The Calendars And To-Do List
It’s much simpler, and you aspire to manage time when you know all the tasks are laid out in front of you and the time it’s due.
So when you have the app or consider the old school system of using pen and paper, you can organize your task much more simpler.
Also, it gives you much more chances to create accountability for yourself and get your work done in a timely as well as effective manner.
Set The Deadlines
Legal practices come with an external deadline, but you also need to create one for yourself. It should apply to everything you are doing, including the tasks in routine and daily.
Determine the time for your tasks that should rationally drive and set the deadline within which you need to accomplish it.
Make sure you treat these like court deadlines and add them to the calendar or to-do list. You should also add the time frames in order to accomplish the tasks such as responding to emails and returning phone calls.
All of these small yet significant steps can help you reduce the temptation to procrastinate.
Stop Doing The Multitasking
For most lawyers, when it comes to multitasking, it comes like second nature.
Well, it might seem like it’s saving time, but it’s making you inefficient.
There are different studies that show that when you are juggling, multitasking can make you inefficient and less effective.
So while you do multiple tasking, you are not doing the work but creating issues for yourself.
Don’t Do Over Commitment And Ask for Help
Most lawyers find it difficult to say no to work. However, you might believe that you are not allowed to, but it’s actually not good for you.
When you end up taking too much work, it prevents you from doing much better work and matching the standard of what the client expects.
So when you know the capacity won’t allow you to get more work, it’s better to turn down the products. When you take too many tasks and don’t handle them well, it ruins your reputation and cardinality as a lawyer.
You can also ask for help from the additional staffing or delegate the tasks to your junior attorneys as well as support staff.
Take The Best Advantage Of Technology
Tech has been involved a lot, especially when it comes to the practice of law.
There are tons of software and apps which are designed to make your life as a lawyer much easier and more efficient.
So don’t be hesitant to take advantage of all those apps and advancements. Also, incorporate technology into your routine so it can eliminate the work and speed up the processes.
Organize Where You Work
A tidy office with a clutter-free desk can help you in saving time that you spend looking for things and documents.
Especially when you are a lawyer, and you have to deal with tons of papers, dates, and events regarding cases, clients, and court.
And you will be able to better focus on tasks that you have in hand; it helps you in not get distracted by magazines or miscellaneous letters lying around you.
Here are some of the points to make your office clean and easy to access.
Use The Electronic Calder And Desk Diary
Make sure your do or electronic calendar records both the appointments which are important in your business and personal life. So instead of managing two, you have one of the Organizer.
So it becomes easy to insert the dates of events, invitations, appointments, and reminders, then put them on paper.
You can devote the section of each day in your calendar and organizer to especially focus on making the daily to-do list.
File The Incoming Paper
Promptly file all of your documents and telephone slips in the inboxes. Find a chronological filing system that helps you in keeping a better track of your active projects.
For Example, if you have ten projects and ten files, number them from 1 to 10, and add project 1 with the subject. This helps you in finding the files much easier.
Use Trash Cans
When you are down with the materials, don’t hold them on those documents. However, check if there is any need in the future and if there is not, make sure you dump it in trash cans.
Also, have a separate place where you put the projects you are done with so you don’t mix them with your current ongoing ones.
Minimize The Interruptions
Interruptions are par for the course when it comes to lawyers; it’s the standard default mode. But you are required to choose a time period; it can be two hours, it can be the first thing in your morning where you don’t let anything interrupt you. Here you can get most of the important work done.
Close the door, keep the secretary informed and let the calls go to voice call. If it’s important then ask the assistant to call all the social clients that you might receive calls from.
Every day is going to bring something new and challenging, and there are some activities you are destined to do and repeat over a week or day.
So save your energy and time by creating shortcuts for the spreadsheet, web pages, etc. This can help you to visit easily without going through any trouble.
Use the checklist to add the tasks and gather information or documents that are relevant to the client’s cases.
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Carol T. Mahaffey is a certified American Author And a creator of Theleaderboy. Carol is a Self-Taught Marketer with 10+ Years of Experience. She brings her decade of experience to her current role, where she is dedicated to writing books, blogs, and articles, inspiring the world on how to become a better Leader.