We’re time poor. We’re stressed.
We’re slamming down a coffee on the way to court, whilst checking our phone messages, texting our assistant at the office, reviewing our daily diary and thinking about how many units we’ll need to tap into our timesheet later on. We’re so flat out putting out the fires, it’s no wonder we reach 3:00pm and our to-do list is still a mile long. Where did the day go?
Lawyers, life many busy professionals, have their productivity thwarted on a daily basis. Sitting down to write a lengthy submission or advice is suddenly interrupted by the need to attend Court for an injunction or rush to an urgent meeting, or responding to a call from the nearest Police station to rescue a desperate client from the prospect of spending the night in the cells. So how can lawyers save time and power boost productivity amidst the chaos?
If the files are piling up in your bedroom faster and more frequently than Lindsay Lohan’s trips to rehab, it’s time to act. How much time have you wasted finding and resetting passwords, scouring your office for a missing file, or trying to find the location of a document on your laptop? You need to know where everything is and to be able to access documents and emails easily. And don’t confuse “neat” with “organised” – plenty of tidy workspaces are not organised to help with workflow and productivity. Use tech tools like Roboform to save passwords and Evernote to store and share files, organise notes, lists and images and record your day so that you remember important conversations and meetings.
2. Batch It
In February 2013, Forbes Magazine reported that one of the biggest “time-sucks known to modern man” is checking and responding to email, citing McKinsey research that suggests email takes up to 28% of the average worker’s day – that is, the second-most time-consuming activity we take part in each day. Checking your Inbox every time you see an email drift in is reactive, time consuming, inefficient and as frustrating as a scene out of Waiting for Godot.
Rather than deal with emails sporadically throughout your day in a reactionary state, set aside time to check and respond to emails and return phone calls. Become an email ninja like Tim Ferriss and batch emails twice a day or choose a schedule that suits your calendar and commitments so that you can train clients and colleagues to communicate with you on your terms.
3. Eat The Frog
We have all fallen prey to procrastination. We put the really bad stuff way down the bottom of our list and hope that it is miraculously ticked off by the end of the day. Unless you can delegate that icky job you’ve been sitting on for a week, the only way to get on top of it, according to Lifehack, is to ‘eat the frog’, that is, do the most unpleasant task first. Call the car repairs guy or the bank, chase up your visa application, ring your mother-in-law, work on your least favourite case, call that difficult client. By getting those tasks out of the way, you’ll clear your mind and be ready to get onto the important stuff that adds to your bottom line.
4. Tech It Up
Make software tools and tech solutions work for you so you’ve got more time to read that brief, mull over that scintillating Supreme Court case, or catch up on networking and business development. Use cloud-based practice management systems to record time, manage documents, and attend to billing. Work on documents collaboratively and remotely with DropBox, Google Docs and Slack so that you remain connected and work on the go. If you’re advising overseas clients and need to operate in different time zones, you can even schedule emails to be sent at a later time (while you sleep!), with products such as Boomerang for Gmail, allowing you to keep reasonable hours in a busy global setting.
With just a few small adjustments to your systems and processes, you’ll be back in Energizer bunny mode, feeling the flow, spending most of your time on the tasks that really count and hacking away at the time wasters.