09 Sep Time Management Tips for Lawyers
Time means helping clients and earning money, and it’s something you can’t buy. So, mastering legal time management is a vital skill for lawyers of all disciplines. Knowing how and when to budget and use your time is the difference between success and failure. We’re here to help you learn valuable time management for attorneys.
Learn to Say No: Don’t Overcommit
Every lawyer is guilty of this at one point or another. It’s easy to say yes to an extra project or another client when you’re already working overtime. However, you aren’t a machine. Taking on too much at once will lead to burnout or, worse, lost cases.
You should be realistic about what you can do. Learning how to say no to clients and partners who want to dump even more projects on your full plate is an essential part of legal time management.
Time Studies and Time Blocking
Effective time management for lawyers is about learning better ways to schedule your day and sticking to it. See how many hours it takes to accomplish your everyday tasks and projects. Once you understand how long they take, you can block off portions of your day for specific tasks, like setting aside an hour or two each morning to answer emails or phone calls.
This part of mastering time management for attorneys also helps with scheduling projects. You can determine precisely how long you need to work on a project each day to finish it by the deadline. Use previous projects to judge how many hours you’ll need to complete future ones, which helps keep you from overscheduling and over-committing.
One of the most challenging things to do is delegate, but learning to trust your team with tasks is key to law firm time management. Delegating a task can save you and the person you trust time, as they may be better at specific skills than you. Mastering this skill is key to effective legal time management.
For example, you may ask someone at the office skilled in sifting through content briefs for specific data points to handle that task and assign medical record retrieval to another team member. This is an effective law firm time management strategy that benefits everybody. However, ensure you aren’t piling more on them than they can handle, and help them with tasks you’re better at in the future.
Get Organized: Calendars and Lists
It’s not easy being organized, but it is a critical component in time management for lawyers. When everything is in its place, you won’t have to struggle to find documents anymore, which will save you significant time from looking for them.
You shouldn’t just manage your workspace. Keep an up-to-date calendar ready, so you always know what’s on your schedule. To-do lists are legal time management must-haves, as they save you the trouble of remembering everything you need to accomplish. Plus, the satisfaction of crossing each item off your list is a powerful motivator to get your work done.
Distractions and Time Vampires: Setting Boundaries
Time vampires and other distractions can derail your productivity in no time. Part of time management for attorneys involves managing your interpersonal relationships and setting boundaries with people who tear you away from your schedule.
While you can’t eliminate distractions entirely, it might be best to block off some time each day, two or three hours, dedicated to working. No phone calls, no visits, no meetings. Just you and paperwork that needs doing.
Another good tactic is to set some boundaries and time management rules for your law firm. Limit the questions people can ask, limit the people who can visit your office, and limit the time they can take from you. Save the personal questions for break time!
Loose Scheduling and Showing Up Early
Another rule of time management for lawyers is to avoid booking back-to-back meetings. Tight scheduling invites disaster. Always schedule a few minutes between appointments so you can refocus.
What you should try to do is show up early to meetings. Being a few minutes early allows you to go over the content of the meeting, so you’re more prepared, and gives you some breathing room if disaster does strike.
Internal and External Deadlines
I’m sure there are tons of external deadlines set by your practice — and you should always strive to meet them. However, best practices for law firm time management suggest you shouldn’t operate solely on external deadlines. After all, you have piles of work to get done, and you can’t just do it the night before it’s due.
These are deadlines and goals set by you to keep up your work. Plan to have something done before the external deadline, so you’re free to work on another project. Both kinds of deadlines are essential components of time management for attorneys.
No Multitasking, Focus
Does multitasking come naturally to you? Can you field phone calls while doing paperwork? Well, stop. Science shows this isn’t an excellent way to work, and what you’re doing is dividing your attention and effort, so both tasks are poorly done. It can take more time to do two jobs together than to do them separately, which translates to poor time management for lawyers who often do complex tasks.
Taking Advantage of Technology
Technology has completely changed the litigation game, saving lawyers time and money on tasks they would have to complete themselves. Utilizing our medical record retrieval software saves lawyer firms loads of time.
Technology is now an essential part of legal practices and a key tool for law firm time management. Most states even have laws stating that lawyers must be competent in technology to run their practices legally and with good reason.
Time Management: A Skill You Learn Over Time
Getting started is the hardest part, as you may feel you’re not managing time well or that time management is a waste of time. Time management for attorneys isn’t something you’re perfect at right away. It takes time to master those skills.
But stick with it, and soon you’ll wonder how you ever lived before embracing effective time management for lawyers.
Making Time For Yourself: The Importance of Self-Care
When it comes to time management for lawyers, taking the time to decompress is vital. Have coffee with friends, watch your favorite show, and spend time with your kids. Come back to work. Taking care of yourself is necessary to continue functioning. Get back to 100 percent, then get back to work. Contact us today and let us help you reclaim your schedule and master time management for attorneys.