The “Time” element means a lot to professionals, especially lawyers who manage innumerable clients, hearings, and in between fulfill the needs of their family and friends. Add the socializing component and you will know how difficult it must be to manage all the chores. In such a scenario where time means money it would be foolhardy to spend even a minute on unproductive tasks.
Here are the tips for a lawyer to improve productivity through time management.
– Begin the Day Early
You won’t believe the number of unproductive tasks you can accomplish in the morning hours without hurting your crucial ‘Billing” time. Workout, chat with family, update yourself on latest news or maybe a case, call up friends, brush up skills and seek new avenues to improve your earnings. You can get rid of all the inconsequential chores in the morning provided you begin your day early.
– Phone-The Innocent Devil
Many people, including lawyers are not aware of how much time is wasted on unwanted phone calls. A minute or two saved on each call translates into hours and man days over a long period. These extra days are like bonus which can be put to more productive tasks. Keep your talk to the point, and keep it short. If you are busy with a client or in the court, ignore this devil which will simply distract you and affect your performance. And performance is the key to a successful career.
– Email Management
There is no point checking mails every few minutes. Consolidate all your electronic correspondence, and initiate action twice or thrice in a day. Use mail client instead of logging into your web based account. It will save precious minutes. Secondly, mails can be composed, queued, and sent quickly via mail software.
Today, multitasking is essential to squeeze out more out of the allocated productive hours. Use coffee time to update clients, lunch hour can be utilized for case study and finally travel time need not be wasted looking out of the window of the car. Return important phone calls. Although multitasking does squeeze out energy, it is just a matter of time before you get used to it.
– Limit Time Spent on Social Media
It is easy for anyone, especially lawyers to get distracted. Their work demands focus, silence and motivation. All this means a peaceful ambiance. Stay off social media sites, blogs, and also keep a leash on your hobbies such as watching a football or a baseball match during productive hours. These are adrenaline sports which kill concentration.
– Personal Information Manager
Application such as Microsoft Outlook can help sync several chores. Although it is mainly used as an email application, it can also be exploited as a desktop calendar, task manager, contact manager, note taking and also for web browsing. Lawyers also need to configure their cell phone portable PIM or personal information manager. Maintaining a dairy will be an added advantage.
– Use Productivity Tools
Use internet frequently for research material; as an alternative to books. Download templates for letters, presentations and case study papers, and fine-tune them to your requirement instead of creating it from the scratch.
– Set Up Goals
Create a timeline of goals in terms of billing hours or whatever makes your practice efficient. Review these targets. This could be weekly, monthly or quarterly. By analyzing your goals you can plan for the next set of goals (billable and non-billable), enhancing your productivity.
– Set Up Client Limit
Lawyers should record or docket the number of clients or cases he/she addresses at any given point of time. Create a case file; segregate those who are already using your services. Mark others in bold. However, a lawyer should limit himself/herself to the number of clients he accepts.
– Delegate Work
You as a lawyer need to appoint junior staff, typically specialists. This is a great way to improve productivity and increase billings. Agreed, some of it will be shared but nonetheless it will increase the bottom-line of your balance sheet. A point to note here; hiring junior staff and delegating tasks is an art. Lawyers should employ a mix lot of experienced and inexperienced people. You don’t want to allocate a trivial chore to a highly experienced junior lawyer who would take away all your profits.
– Hire Secretaries
Trivial paperwork needn’t be handled by junior lawyers or you for that matter. Secretaries are cheap. They are efficient in handling such tasks. Hire a couple of them depending on your business volume and see the difference it makes to your business’s overall efficiency.
– Procrastination-Your No.1 Enemy
Dillydallying chores, tasks or assignments, keeping phone calls on hold for unusually long time or simply postponing to imbibe certain rules and efficient mechanism will spell doom. Delaying for whatever reason will cost you more than you bargained for in the long run. In short, take a quick decision but a wise one.
– Exploit Technology
Don’t resist new technologies. They are meant to turn individuals and businesses efficient, productive and creative. Exploit it to the hilt and see the difference. Use cloud computing, get networked, connect with clients and staff through messaging apps etc.
– Prioritize Tasks
Prioritize your tasks. Segregate them according to their importance in terms of billing or based on client quality. Give a gentle push and dump clients who take up more time than he/she is billed for which typically means loss. Choose quality over quantity and build goodwill which will automatically make your business go viral through word of mouth publicity.
– Simplify Your Operations
Last but not the least, simply and organize everything. The flow of paperwork and decision making needs to be transparent and efficient. In such a scenario any lapse or failure can easily be detected and the person responsible quickly narrowed down. All this translates into a robust business module that offers world class service, which incidentally in this case is a lawyer.
Frank Speller is a blogger for CarsonCity-Drug-Attorney.com. He is interested in writing about various legal issues related to crime and also about online strategies which can help a Law Firm.