November 18, 2015
We all know how to save some time, and we're sure you've implemented some of time-saving techniques recently, probably even today! But, the million dollar question is: are you really optimizing your time? You see, there is a distinct difference between the two and it's incredibly important for those in the legal profession, who need to bill those hours they work for clients, productivity is key.
Saving time can be associated with running to make the early train this morning, but optimizing your time was reading through your inbox during the train ride and leaving you with one less menial task to get through when you got into the office.
So, have you been optimizing your time? Let's find out...
Take five minutes at the beginning of the day to take a look at what you have to do, then schedule and prioritize what your day is going to look like. If you find yourself discovering you had an urgent task to get done by the end of the day, then it may be time for you to try out prioritizing and mapping your day.
Tackle that hardest task first thing in the morning when you're still fresh and haven't gotten bogged down or caught up in the distractions of the day. Psychology studies have shown that the absolute best thing you can do as soon as you get to your desk in the morning is to create a brief planning session for your day. The worst thing you could probably do? Check your emails. By checking and responding to emails or listening to your voicemails, you place yourself in reactive mode which may leave you less focused on the tasks at hand.
How often have you suffered or made a mistake because of a simple miscommunication via email or a quick text? All that time you spent going back, fixing the issue or further communicating with a client or co-worker could've been skipped completely had you spoken over the phone or set a meeting to chat in person and cleared up any issues then. While this may seem counter-intuitive and perhaps even a less productive use of your time, it may save you from a big miscommunication blunder down the road. Plus, having a meeting set with a clear start and end time means you can better stick to your plan for the day.
82% of business leaders said, when surveyed, that they felt they were better understood by their peers when they spoke in-person. Email chains and text messages while convenient, can be meandering and time consuming as you continue to check back on your email and quite possibly get just a little bit distracted. Your in-person time puts your undivided attention on your client and allows you to not only stay on the top of their mind, but it keeps them on the top of your mind.
This is key when it comes to communicating with them later, as well as remembering those important details about their case. When you're seeing your clients in person in a dedicated meeting just for them; you have a much better chance of understanding what they need from you, remembering it as you move forward, and creating a longer and stronger relationship with them that can later lead to more business, or even more client referrals.
Clear desk, clear mind, right?! We say that staying organized applies to both your day and your physical space. Haven't you ever spent an afternoon procrastinating by going through that pile of paperwork that was slowly growing and taking over your desk when you could've been doing your work? We fully support keeping your work area neat and clean, but do so consistently so you're not left scrambling to do it all in one day. Build that time right into your daily routine and use it as a chance to give your brain a break.
It's proven that your brain needs the breaks throughout the day in order to stay fully focused on the task at hand, so why not use a quick couple breaks throughout the day to neaten your surroundings? If you're finding yourself distracted while you type up notes because your desk drawer is overflowing with...junk, then you're not fully optimizing your time here! Build those few minutes a day into your daily schedule and your chances of mid-day cleaning distraction will significantly decrease.
Yeah we said it...one matter at a time! Only about 2% of the world's population can actually successfully multitask, the rest of us are made all the less productive by trying to conquer several different tasks at once. The reason we recommend that you ought to schedule out your time through the day, is so you don't end up multitasking. Nothing productive ever comes out of multitasking, if anything it makes the tasks at hand even harder by splitting your brain's resources up, task by task.
If you're looking to optimize your time throughout the day, then we say that you should leave time for each task individually. Prioritize what's most important and if it comes down to it, understand what you'll need to push to the next day. You can't successfully prep for a case and meet with a client at the same time, correct? Then why would you go on and try to multitask with your other tasks?
Are they any tasks that you do day-in and day-out that can be automated? Try working a program or software into your routine that may help you get some of those basic tasks done for you, leaving you with a little extra time to focus on some of the bigger picture items on your agenda. Find a tool that can help you with these everyday tasks. And yes, in this age of technology there's a tool or software out there to help you with just about anything. Utilize a tool to set reminders to send follow-up emails to clients or to schedule out some posts to your social media profiles. Once you find the right tools for you, you'll spend more time on the important stuff and less time worrying about what tasks you need to get done.
Your desk is cleared off, your day is planned out and full of productive meetings (and plenty of brain breaks too,) now it's time to start optimizing your time! Implementing these four easy tricks are not only a great way to optimize your time for productivity, but also one of the best ways to get an overview of your billable hours for the day. Once you've got a better grasp on your overall schedule, you can build in more billable time for specific clients and focus more on the important matters at hand.