Proper time management is a skill that every lawyer must learn if they hope to be successful. This article will help you get started!
Time is the most valuable resource that lawyers possess. Therefore, how you manage it is crucial to the success of your practice. Starting a law firm certainly requires a great deal of time, but what’s more important is how you spend that time.
For example, one dangerous thought that crosses many lawyer’s minds is that because they are their own bosses and do not have a set schedule, they believe it’s normal to work an excessive number of hours. However, this can ultimately create a drop in productivity and an increased risk of burnout.
Solo lawyers have a greater responsibility because they are accountable for all areas of the business, which means establishing effective methods to manage their time carries an incredible amount of importance.
So if you’re a lawyer, solo or not, these tips will help you manage your time in the right way and achieve greater productivity within your practice.
Make a To-do List
Whether daily or weekly, preparing a to-do list will help you identify all the tasks you need to resolve. Every morning before you start the day, go through your list and try to account for the amount of time you’ll need to complete each item. Making this list will make it easier for you to outline the tasks assigned for the day and plan to get them done.
Once you create your to-do list, make note of the tasks that are essential and need to be taken care of first. Try to identify which ones will bring you closer to your goal and help you advance your venture. Prioritizing, in addition to managing your time properly, will help avoid procrastination and distractions that would otherwise throw you off.
Set a Schedule
One of the best things you can do to ensure you get the most done, without costing you every waking hour of every day is to set a schedule, share it, and stick to it. Let people know when you’ll be working. Describe how you work best: Whether that’s “You’re free to check in with me from time to time” (probably not) or “Only bother me unless someone is hurt or the house is on fire” (more likely).
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. Here are some tips to better control your mental workspace: Block out time to check emails, block out specific chunks of time for specific projects, and follow the 10-minute productivity rule.
Set Time Aside for Yourself
Within the whole process of time management, finding space for rest, distraction, and relaxation is essential. Lawyers are already very prone to burnout even when you take time management out of the equation! Every day, for at least a couple of hours, dedicate yourself to resting, relaxing, taking a break from work, spending time with your family, or getting some exercise to help reset your mind as well as your body. Your work and productivity will be appreciated as you will be prepared and more focused once you start working again.
Delegate Where Possible
Unfortunately, you can’t do it all and in order to grow my practice (and save your sanity), you have to delegate some tasks. There just isn’t enough time in the day to do it all (much to your dismay I’m sure!). Create a solid and reliable team, and delegate the tasks you think they can handle. Many lawyers have found success with virtual assistants and/or virtual paralegals. This will not only free you up considerably but also allow you to carry out a greater number of activities during the day, allowing you to focus on the big picture items like growing your practice.