Your day-to-day is involved, to say the least. But, there are ways to make it more manageable. By getting a bit more organized, and giving yourself a leg up in terms of efficiency, you can transform an otherwise complex routine into a streamlined methodology – and here are 5 of the best ways to make it all happen.
1. Make a List, Then Prioritize
When you’re jumping from one task to the next, it’s difficult to get a clear picture of what’s really important and what can be set aside for the moment. At times, these tasks even conflict with one another, making the ability to discern what you should be focused on even more problematical.
The first step to tackling this issue is by making a to-do list. Whether it happens at the end of the day or first thing in the morning, writing down what’s on your plate over the next 24 hours allows you to create an action plan on your most productive tasks, and enables you to outsource or reschedule those which are less important.
2. Take Control of Your Time
Even with a daily to-do list, there are always going to be clients who call or visit with an issue that needs immediate attention. This is especially true for senior clients, as they typically require the highest consideration from you and the firm in terms of making their affairs a top concern.
To stay ahead of this issue, it’s vital to set expectations with your clients from the beginning, then revisit them frequently to ensure you’re living up to these expectations. Questions to ask your clients are:
- What are your priorities?
- How can I support you in these areas?
- What service level is expected on low-priority issues?
- What sort of turnaround time is anticipated on high- and low-priority requests?
Ultimately, the goal is to make certain you’re taking care of your clients’ needs, while primarily focusing on the areas posing the greatest risk.
3. Do Your Best to Avoid Interruptions
If you’re busy working on a case and a job-related call comes in, it can be tempting to drop what you’re doing to take care of another client matter. This can result in having to reread materials or reestablish your train of thought afterward.
While it’s virtually impossible to avoid every call or office interruption, scheduling a block of time each day that is specifically set aside for taking or returning calls from clients and other law professionals will undoubtedly make things easier to manage. If you have an assistant, let them take a message for you. Otherwise, put your consulting hours on your business card or let clients know ahead of time. They will certainly appreciate how much value you give your workload.
4. Handle Technology Efficiently
Lawyers are not immune to the distractions of today’s technology. Whether it’s your cellphone, email, or another type of device, save yourself time and headaches by turning notifications off during certain portions of the workday. It does take discipline, but many times you’ll find yourself with an extra hour in the day by not picking up your phone every time it sends you a notification.
Another option, particularly for email, is having your secretary go through it once or twice a day to eliminate junk email and reply to routine correspondence. Additionally, your secretary can set up folders to organize incoming messages into a well-defined set of priorities. With a legal practice management system, you can use intelligent email tools to help you stay on top of what’s most important.
5. Enjoy Being a Lawyer
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. Like anyone, you want to evolve as a professional and also enjoy what you’re doing in the meantime, so here are two things to remember:
- Under-promise and over-deliver: If you can get a client task done by Tuesday afternoon, tell them you’ll have it ready by Wednesday, then when you deliver it early you’ll make the client very happy.
- Don’t over-commit: You’re a lawyer, not a superhero, so it’s really okay to say “No.” once in a while. Doing so will give you a greater sense of focus and ownership over your workload, which ultimately makes you a better lawyer and helps you enjoy your job that much more.