Managing a solo law firm is easier said than done. Learn how to better organize your schedule and workspace, manage your time more efficiently and increase productivity.
Of all the challenges solo law firms face, perhaps time management is the hardest to handle. After all, solo lawyers run their own show, from the actual practice of law, to marketing and constantly answering the phone. Wearing so many hats requires finesse and organizational skills which may not come naturally.
What can you do? While volumes have been written about time management techniques, all time management strategies boil down to two essential components: controlling your mental workspace and controlling your physical workspace.
Controlling Your Mental Workspace
Controlling your mental workspace is the most challenging part of the time management equation. While modern technology does make it easier to handle some aspects of running a small law firm, it also adds considerable opportunities for distraction.
Technology is designed to help you work smarter, not harder. Yet, in many cases, lawyers find that the workday never ends. How can you control your mental space more effectively? Here are some tips to help:
- Break the habit of constantly checking your email. Schedule a certain amount of time every day to check your email. Avoid the temptation of checking it multiple times during the day. Each time you stop to check your email, you lose work momentum.
- Block off chunks of time for specific projects. During these deep work periods, focus solely on the task at hand for the allotted time. Don’t answer phones, texts, or emails in these periods. A focused effort is much more productive than so-called multitasking.
- Follow the six-minute rule. If a task will take longer than six minutes to complete, set it aside until you can schedule adequate time for it. By doing less time-intensive tasks the moment they come up, you avoid the dreaded pile of miscellaneous items that grows until it chokes out your productivity for hours at a time.
De-cluttering your mental space is a must if you want to stay focused, productive, and in charge of your time.
Controlling Your Physical Workspace
People are hardwired to pay attention to their environment. This may have helped our ancestors to avoid predators more effectively, but in the modern world, it can be a drain on productivity. The article “It’s Not About Time, It’s About Focus” gives this advice:
“Create a designated work space. Place only one task at a time in that space and work on it. This eliminates the effect of peripheral vision, which extends 120 degrees in all directions. Whether we realize it or not, we “see” everything stacked up around that work item. That causes mini-distractions that increase our stress and reduce our focus.”
This can be especially challenging for the solo law firm that operates from a home office. It is all too easy for your home environment to bleed into your office space. If you are finding it difficult to work solely from a home office, a shared office space may be the answer to your productivity issues.
Shared office space is an affordable option that provides additional amenities to help you focus on running your firm more effectively. Some of those amenities include professional reception services that keep you from the constant interruption of answering a phone, mail service, and high-speed internet to help you access the tools you need to grow your solo or small firm.
There are a variety of other tips and tricks that will help you manage your time more effectively and find success in your solo practice. But by having a strategy for keeping both your mental and physical workspace organized, you will be more productive and better serve your clients.