One common thing that is sure to affect just about every lawyer throughout the course of their career is the consistent time constraint they face in carrying out their duties to clients. It is no news that an average lawyer has a huge pile of work to get through on a daily basis, with most of them having to work deep into the night. Many lawyers find it impossible to maintain a work-life balance, due to the demanding nature of their day jobs. Unsurprisingly, many capable and intelligent individuals eventually leave the profession to venture into other endeavors that consume less of their time.
While time management is necessary for everyone in every profession, lawyers barely have the luxury of taking considerable time off work to attend to personal matters, without lagging in satisfying their clients' needs. This article points out a few tips that can help lawyers in managing their time properly, thereby making their day as productive as possible.
Proper Delegation of Responsibilities
One situation that most lawyers find themselves falling into is taking more work than they can handle. It is tedious enough that one person has to complete an almost impossible load of tasks, and even more tedious that these tasks have impossible deadlines attached to them. This is precisely why teamwork and delegation will always be relevant. As long as your duties are being delegated to the right persons, you have no reason to take on loads of legal tasks. Most times, it ends up being overwhelming and counterproductive, affecting the quality of your output negatively. Apparently, delegating responsibilities will be impossible if you do not have subordinates to delegate to. For junior lawyers who cannot delegate duties, collaborating with colleagues and working in a team will save considerable time, completing tasks faster, and more efficiently.
Using time Management Software
Ironically, technology and modern devices have been one of the most potent distractions to lawyers, militating against proper time management. On the flip side, however, technology has proven to be one of the most effective means of proper planning and time management. Many applications and platforms have been developed to enable professionals to properly plan their time and outline their daily and weekly activities in order to guide their activities throughout the specified periods. Applications like Trello, Quire, and TimeTree are some of the common applications used by many professionals in scheduling their activities. While these applications were not primarily developed as legal software for law firms, they will no doubt serve as effective time management tools for lawyers.
Focusing on Priorities
While you delegate responsibilities and utilize time management software, your time management will remain inefficient if you do not set priorities in performing tasks. The way this works is pretty simple: ensure the most important tasks are completed before performing the less important ones. So when you delegate responsibilities, see to it that they are performed in their order of importance, and when planning your daily schedule, ensure to place the important and urgent tasks at the top of the list. Once the urgent and important tasks are out of the way, the pressure on you to complete other tasks reduces considerably and reduces your stress levels as your day progresses. Without properly setting priorities, your entire day - or week - is likely to be as disorganized as possible, as many unexpected complications will continue to interrupt your workflow. Always remember that urgency is different from importance, and be sure to plan every workday accordingly.
Setting Time Limits
For many lawyers, once a certain task is in motion, they prefer to remain on the task until it is completed. While this attitude usually ensures that tasks are not left uncompleted, it may also prevent other important tasks from being completed in time. Therefore, completing numerous tasks in a day will require conscious and careful planning, in order to prevent one task from affecting the other - which has been known to happen to lawyers a lot. One sure way to prevent this from occurring is to set time limits for each task. After outlining the tasks to be completed within a period of time, assigning specific hours to each task mentally prepares you to work at a reasonable pace, in order to complete one task in time and have just enough time to work on the next.
Taking Break between Tasks
The human mind can get overwhelmed when put to work over an extended period. For some reason, lawyers always seem to be unaware of this fact, and spend many hours at a stretch, working on task after task in an attempt to complete as many tasks as possible (a way of "managing time" properly). What many lawyers should keep in mind is that a refreshed mind is a much more productive mind, and an overworked, tired mind is more likely to make mistakes. Taking multiple breaks between tasks gives you the time to refresh your mind and maintain your focus for a longer period as your day progresses. Reminders can also be set on mobile and computer devices, in order not to get carried away and forget to take breaks - a common occurrence for lawyers. Marinara, Timer and other time management software (a list of which can be found on Loio) adequately help with this function.