For many lawyers, the 9-5 work life is not nearly as common as a 12-hour day. With the constant pressure to meet client demands and working with partners, working around the clock happens more often than not. However, it is important to work smarter in addition to working harder. Many lawyers lose about three-quarters of their billable hours every day, spending only a little more than 2 hours per day on billable work. Ensure you are getting the most use of your time by practicing some of these time-management tips.
Implement the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule is also called the Pareto Principle, and applies to nearly all industries and is especially helpful for new lawyers to understand. This rule essentially suggests that about 20 percent of your actions are responsible for about 80 percent of your results. As mentioned earlier, most lawyers only spend about 28 percent of their workday on billable projects and tasks. To help with time management, it’s important that more attention is spent on billable work. Making sure that stays a priority and letting anything else fall to the wayside will allow you to easily keep track of how your time is adding up.
Nothing breaks your focus more than repeatedly breaking away from one case to discuss another. It’s important to schedule uninterrupted time throughout the day to properly focus on a task. Additionally, schedule a certain time for appointments and to return phone calls. While there are some calls that must be taken as they come, many of them can easily be handled by a secretary or scheduled during one of your allotted call times.
Time Your Tasks
Using the Pomodoro method, time your tasks and breaks with the assistance of a kitchen timer. The ideology behind this method is to effectively manage your entire day. You start by picking a task, set the timer for 25 minutes and focus only on that task for the duration of that time. When the timer goes off, you can take a 3-5 minute break. Once you repeat this cycle three or four times, allow yourself to take a longer, 30-minute break. Ultimately, you should see an increase in your focus and productivity, without becoming drained from working long hours.
Create a Prioritized To-Do List
At the end of the day, take some time to make a list in the order it needs to be completed for the next day. While it may seem silly to spend 15 minutes creating a prioritized list, it can be a huge time saver and you can “eat the frog” and get those more difficult tasks completed at the beginning of your day.