Time is the enemy of any law firm, especially when more than one attorney works there. The more you have to manage, the less likely it is that everything gets done efficiently and effectively. However, by making just a couple of small adjustments to your working habits and setting up some time-management tools, you can transform your law practice from one that constantly lags behind its colleagues into one that accelerates instead.
Make sure you have clear expectations
Your time is your most precious asset. So it’s imperative that you get clear on just how much time you actually have available to work on your cases. Don’t assume you have the same amount of time every day or every week. And don’t assume that you have exactly twenty-four hours available each day.
In fact, unless you have a very specific reason, most law offices don’t have a set amount of time dedicated exclusively to their practice. Most law offices are expected to work around the clock. But during what time periods? You’ll be amazed at how much sense everything will start making when you keep track of your schedule.
Establish a routine for working
As attorneys, we must learn how to best operate within our individual practice areas. Select one area of your practice and build your routine around that. For example, if you work with clients, build your routine around meeting with them each week. That way, you’re focusing on one thing each day rather than being spread too thin.
Limit email and conference calls to work time only
Email can be a useful communication tool. But it’s also notorious for being extremely time-consuming. As with conferences, most attorneys don’t limit their conference calls to “work time only.” Likewise, you might want to consider setting up a daily email routine. What do you put in your email box that you don’t want to take out of there? Your email should be used for legal matters only.
You don’t want to be sending emails about personal issues, client complaints, or work-related issues. If you do, you’re going to have a hard time keeping your email from becoming an all-consuming time waster. And as with conferences and billable hours, you should keep track of your email usage and set strict limits for yourself.
Use technology to boost productivity and efficiency
Law offices are quickly becoming a thing of the past thanks to the growing availability of technology. Have a quick search online, and you’ll find that there are plenty of resources to boost productivity with law practice management software.
You may want to install an all-in-one document manager. These programs allow you to organize your information by topic, so you don’t have to waste time flipping back and forth between multiple documents or spreadsheets to find the information you need.
Equally, you may want to set up a project management tool. You can use these tools to organize your different projects and tasks, allowing you to easily see where you’re at and when you need to get moving on something else.