Center For Practice Management, Email Management, Productivity, Wellness

Seven Time Management Tips to Start Doing Today

Welcome to 2021! Many people start out the year with a list of resolutions which often include getting on top of deadlines, improving work/life balance, and working out more often. This list of time management tips can help with the first two and the extra time can be devoted to adding exercise back into your regimen!

  1. Eat a frog for breakfast. The etymology of the phrase “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day” is disputed, but the meaning is clear: if you tackle the most challenging task in your day first then nothing for the rest of the day will be as bad. As a technique to deal with procrastination it is very straight forward and remarkably easy to implement. Most lawyers know which “to do” is the one that has been circling the list. Tackle it first each day and soon you will find that the habit has reduced stress and helped you conquer some of your procrastination demons!
  2. Respond to the question asked. How many times have you had to engage in a multi-email conversation because the response to your initial missive failed to answer your question directly? While you cannot alter the behavior of others, you can make sure to reduce this time waster in two ways. One, keep your emails short and to the point and use formatting such as bullets or numbers to highlight questions or information you need from the recipient. Two, when responding to an email make sure to read it thoroughly and respond directly to any questions
  3. Keep your work area clean. This may seem easy enough, but for some this is a major undertaking. A messy desk/credenza distracts you from the task at hand, and you will waste time looking for an essential item in a stack of papers. Before you stop work for the day take a few minutes to file papers, throw away candy wrappers, clean your coffee cup and swipe your phone/keyboard/mouse with a sanitizing wipe. In the morning your clean, organized workspace will await, and you will feel ready to get to
  4. Make time for social media. Many attorneys are using social media to engage with clients and potential clients. More use the platforms for communication and networking. And most are using a personal account to keep up with friends and family. Whatever your reason for using social media you should schedule time to check updates, post your status, or upload photos – and then close the network! Keeping one eye on Twitter or Facebook adds a constant distraction to your day and studies have shown we are not actually effective a multi-tasking. However, if you are using social media as a business tool, then plan to check it at least three times during the workday to make sure you are able to be responsive to any direct messages or Better yet, assign someone on your team to check the business accounts – delegate!
  5. Use checklists. There are many tasks to be done in a law practice. Many are done repeatedly. Take some time to create checklists for frequent Although you may think you can remember everything you need to do for any given task having a checklist guarantees no activity is forgotten. Also, you can see where in the checklist certain items may be delegated, but with a way to ensure that you know that they have been done.
  6. Consider the phone. In some cases email may not be the best method to deliver information. If there are multiple topics that need to be discussed, if there is a need to convey unpleasant and difficult news, or if you need to gauge the reaction of the other parties then send an email to set up a time to discuss the matter via phone, web conference, or other synchronous means of communication.
  7. Control Meetings. Meetings can be productive, or they can contribute little to forward progress. From the start, simply arranging a meeting can become time intensive, with multiple messages dispatched to establish a time to meet. If the attendees are all using Microsoft Outlook at the same firm, then use the appointment request and scheduling assistant in the calendar to establish availability and request attendance. To schedule a meeting with multiple outside parties, consider free online tools like FindTme to poll attendees about their availability. These tools allow the organizer to suggest several dates and times to her e-mail invitees, who respond by clicking on the dates/times they are free. Send a confirmation with all the information necessary to participate (location, date, time, dial-in, etc.). Send an agenda in advance (if there is no agenda why are you meeting?) and provide assignments with deadlines to attendees before leaving. For internal meetings consider a standing meeting, which will help ensures the meeting is quick!

There are many time management tools and methodologies to help you get on top of your tasks and deadlines. Popular ones include the Pomodoro technique and David Allen’s Get Things Done. Reduce distractions whenever possible, take some time to prepare and breathe, and give yourself a break. If you are feeling stressed and anxious take advantage of BarCARES. You’ve got this!