6 Steps to Better Time Management

7/27/2017

That happy balance between maximizing billable hours and enjoying a personal life can be elusive for attorneys. The trick is to make each moment of the workday count.

This starts with protecting yourself from the time-robbers that lurk outside your door. Here are six tried-and-true time management tactics to put into practice:

  1. Use a gatekeeper. This sounds simple, but too many attorneys fail to do it. Train your assistant to protect you from unwanted interruptions.

  2. Manage phone time. Again, training is key. Educate clients about the best time to reach you during the day, and establish with your gatekeeper a daily schedule for when you will accept and return phone calls.

  3. Prune your e-mail. Have someone screen and prioritize your e-mail each day, getting rid of the junk and replying to routine correspondence for you. Use folders to organize your e-mail, and turn off instant notifications so your computer doesn’t ding every time you receive a new message. It’s just too tempting to stop what you’re doing and read every e-mail when it comes in.

  4. Practice a closed-door policy. A closed door is the ultimate killer of unnecessary conversations. Partners and staff shouldn’t be offended once they understand your work preferences. 

  5. Give yourself some sacred time. Set aside time — say, 20 to 30 minutes — every day when you’ll have no interruptions. Use this time to review your progress, prioritize your tasks and set your schedule.

  6. Under-promise and over deliver. You’ll exceed expectations (and delight clients) when the contract you promised for end-of-day Thursday actually arrives at noon on Wednesday. The key is to be realistic about what you can accomplish and then build in some cushion so you can over deliver. 

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