Working productively is a challenge for attorneys. The unpredictability of their schedules and the highly focused nature of their work normally translates to long hours and difficulty managing one’s time. Mitigating interruptions, delegating work, and prioritizing tasks are important time management tools for lawyers.
Work Habits of Productive Lawyers
Although a lawyer’s workload will likely be excessive on a routine basis, there are ways to maximize productivity, stay on task, and reduce stress. Productive lawyers are masters at controlling their time and prioritizing their work. They also skillfully delegate tasks to coworkers and subordinates whose skill sets and experience help streamline workflow.
The following work habits of productive lawyers are easier to incorporate into your work regimen than you might think.
Review and Update To-Do Lists Daily
A lawyer’s schedule is subject to unexpected changes. As cases develop, the plan of action you envisioned can evolve. Updating your daily to-do list is a must for anticipating these changes to your schedule and staying on track. Start each morning reviewing and updating your day’s tasks to accommodate new and unexpected developments.
Work on Completing Three Important Tasks Each Day
Even though it might be hard to complete every task on your to-do list, you can probably complete three high-priority tasks each day. After you’ve updated your daily to-do list, identify three important tasks that you can and should complete. Prioritizing your workload will help you maintain a sense of accomplishment and keep your clients and superiors happy.
Track Your Time
Good lawyers track billable hours. Great lawyers track all of their time. Tracking and itemizing the time spent on all your work tasks will help you identify areas where you can improve productivity and eliminate efforts that are a waste of your time.
Dedicate an Hour or Two Each Day to Uninterrupted Work
Interruptions will make a dent in anyone’s productivity. Controlling interruptions is possible by dedicating an hour or two each day to uninterrupted work. This means silencing your mobile devices and saving unread emails for later. Let your coworkers and assistants know when you need uninterrupted work time so you can power through important tasks.
Create Time Blocks for Returning Clients’ Calls
Your clients’ calls are important and they should be returned. That being said, fielding calls throughout the day can negatively affect the flow of your work. Interruptions break our concentration and they eat away at precious time. Instead of taking calls throughout the day, dedicate two blocks of time for returning calls each day. Not only can this reduce your interruptions, placing these time blocks at times of the day when you need a break from more demanding work is helpful for improving your stamina and refreshing your mind.
Provide Subordinates with Training to Take on More Complex Work
Taking on too many tasks that could be delegated is a recipe for increased stress and longer hours. Beyond delegating tasks to your subordinates, invest in their training so that they can take on more complex work. Any time that can be delegated means that you can focus on the tasks that absolutely need your experience, skills, and attention.
Let Go of Clients You Don’t Enjoy Working With
If you find yourself overextended by clients who are difficult to work with, consider letting them go. Firing clients or referring their cases can significantly increase productivity, reduce your stress, and open up time for other clients’ needs.
Managing your time is possible. It requires organization and effort. Small steps in the right direction can make a big impact later, too. Improving your productivity with time management strategies takes time so don’t get discouraged. Bear in mind that it takes a few weeks to see the results of your time management efforts.
! guide attorneys on best time management practices along with providing insight on improving work life balance and managing stress. Check out my website at www.mindoverlaw.com to learn more about how we can help you thrive in life and your law practice.