Most of us, including busy lawyers, often feel like there are not enough hours in a work day to get all tasks done. To be sure, time management is a difficult task to master by all. When it comes to the legal profession, attorneys and staff alike are juggling multiple critical tasks at one time. As a result, efficiency is essential to not just getting the legal work done, but also keeping clients happy. If you are unable to manage your time, then it is nearly impossible to be efficient. Below are some tried and true time management tips for lawyers that will hopefully help you properly prioritize your to-do list and better manage your day-to-day work.
●Use a Calendar and To-Do List: Managing your time is much easier when you can easily see the tasks you have to perform laid out in front of you. More importantly, it is best to see due dates well ahead of time — something a calendar and to-do list system can provide. Whether you prefer pen-and-paper or a specific app, organizing tasks and deadlines will help you be efficient, timely, and accountable. This can also allow you to schedule personal events as family is also important.
●Set Deadlines: It is no secret that the practice of law is full of externally-imposed deadlines. It is also important, however, to set your internal deadlines for everything that needs to be done, including daily, routine tasks. These internal deadlines should be respected just like court deadlines. Setting time frames to return calls, answer emails, and send out correspondences will help you avoid the temptation to procrastinate.
●Do Not Multitask: While doing many things at once is often second nature for most attorneys, however, studies show performing numerous tasks at once makes you less efficient on each individual task. So, while psychologically you think you are getting more done, you are not.
●Stop Over-Committing and Ask for Help: Most lawyers have trouble saying no to work. Many attorneys feel that they cannot or are not allowed to refuse. When you are handling too many tasks, you cannot perform those tasks well or up to the standards expected by you and your clients. If you are at capacity, turn down additional projects, so you may focus your full effort on your current clients and activities. Alternatively, you can delegate those tasks to others. While you may be able to do it better, that does not mean you can do it all yourself.
The above tips should be able to help attorneys at any stage of their career not only produce better work and have happier clients but experience a healthier work-life balance.