5 Time Management Best Practices You Can Put Into Action at Your Law Firm
Lawyers have demanding jobs and it is not entirely uncommon for lawyers to clock 12 hour days. The demands from clients and partners are constant, which means that lawyers are often required to work around the clock. As such, because of the demand for their time and expertise, lawyers must develop and practice good time management skills that allow them to be more productive as well as reduce the stress levels that come with the job. If you cannot find the time, you must make time to survive in the legal profession.
Enhanced time management skills result in an improved bottom line, whereby lawyers are able to bill more hours. Despite the clear advantage of proper time management skills, many lawyers are often hesitant and reluctant to consider developing a time management plan; however, in order to achieve a balanced work/life balance, appropriate steps must be taken. In a profession where every second is money, a loss of three-quarters of a law firm’s billable hours can be a death sentence for a modern law firm.
To help out, here are 5 time management best practices that you can put into action at your law firm:
Know how to practice the basics of time management
Because different lawyers have different approaches to productivity, different personalities, varying work habits and preferences, a one size fits all time management approach does not work for all lawyers. Ultimately, it all boils down to finding the right techniques and tools that can complement each lawyer’s approach to work. The first step involves understanding the basics of time management, which starts by taking stock of how the day is spent.
Once a lawyer is able to spot the patterns in their daily workday, then they can use it as a benchmark to make improvements and get organized. If procrastination is an issue, it can be dealt with head on by identifying the challenges that lead to procrastinating. Large tasks can be broken into manageable chunks. It might also help to consider one’s personality that is if you are a night owl or a morning person. This allows one to schedule their busiest periods when they have more energy. During such busy periods, one should take steps to block out any interruptions or distractions to maximize the time.
There is a huge selection of apps created and designed to allow lawyers to manage their time better. In the legal profession, a lot of time is spent creating documents and because the process requires strategic legal work such as proofreading and checking errors, it can be all consuming. A simple activity such as this one can be handled easily with apps that allow for document automation such as Total Practice.
Managing a full inbox can take up a good portion of the day, leaving little time to be productive and proactive while at work. Juggling excessive emails during the day can dramatically affect how a lawyer manages time and the quality of work that is completed across the board. Apps such as Total Practice can help to reduce the time spent sorting through scores of emails by allowing one to work on those that take priority.
It is also important for law firms to find a balance between their response time for client emails, which are important for the success of any firm, and the time spent managing other priorities. Rather than sort through client emails manually, lawyers can take advantage of email management systems like Total Practice to ensure that your clients receive their correspondence automatically. This is also a well-organized system as it can file away any emails for record keeping purposes and for future reference.
Reduce the cost of switching tasks constantly
Busy lawyers often have to multitask to handle their daily workload. Every time a lawyer switches tasks, it takes a couple of minutes before one can shift and re-establish their focus. If task switching occurs too often, it can eat up as much as 40% of a lawyer’s billable hours, which can hinder their productivity. To prevent this from happening, lawyers should try their best to concentrate on one task at a time, instead of wasting time going back and forth between each task. If it is entirely impossible to focus on one job at a time, similar tasks can be categorized and grouped together, which reduces the cost of switching between each task.
For lawyers, and many other professions these days, time is a valuable commodity that cannot be wasted. Once it is wasted, it cannot be replaced, which is why it is important for lawyers to continuously improve and work on their time management skills. In this regard, more attention should be given to billable work because it is often a priority in many law firms. Simple tasks such as those of the administrative variety should be delegated to staff as much as possible.
Do you want even more tips on time management best practices for law firms? Get in touch with a Total Practice representative today.