Part 2: Efficiency and Time Management
Does your calendar manage you? Do you structure your day around the next deadline? Take control of your calendar by managing your daily activities in such a way that you schedule a time slot to work on client files, a time to review emails and phone messages, and time slots for consulting with new clients.
Don’t let email control your day. I recommend reviewing email and phone messages in the morning then shutting off email while you work on client files. Review email again just before and after lunch, then shut it off again until a half hour before you leave for the day. Also, don’t forget about the simple telephone. If you can call someone back, just do it. So much time is wasted sending emails back and forth when a quick phone call would suffice.
Each day review what you must do and dedicate time to each item. Sometimes, in order to stay focused, what you shouldn’t do is just as important as what you should do. When I’m working on a project, I close all email tabs. If I keep email open, I get distracted by pops-up on the bottom of the screen. An hour later, I still haven’t finished the project. Not only is that inefficient, it is stress inducing. Multitasking and the stress that comes with it changes where and how your brain stores new information. Trying to do too many things at once can negatively affect your short-term memory. Research has shown that trying to focus on more than one thing causes a 40% drop in productivity, and lowers your IQ by 10 points.
A number of studies have been done recently on the effects and startling inefficiency of multitasking. I have highlighted some of them here, and I encourage you to continue researching this subject. It seems like you need to multitask in order to get everything done, but multitasking is an illusion. As legendary basketball coach John Wooden said, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
Lastly, I encourage all business people to adopt the standard law office practice of the tickler system. I have been teaching this system for 20 years and it works. A tickler system keeps you organized and pro-active. Don’t wait until the opposing party calls or you notice the next client meeting on the calendar – tickle your clients to keep your business foremost in their minds and anticipate their needs. Find the task management software that works best for your business, or download a free trial of ClientTickler. Clients will appreciate your proactive approach. Don’t underestimate the power of client satisfaction and word of mouth. Your clients are your walking billboard.
1. Each day review what you must do and dedicate time to each item.
2. Manage your calendar to give yourself dedicated time slots for daily activities.
3. Don’t let emails control your day.
4. Develop an effective task management approach to anticipate clients’ needs.
We all feel overwhelmed at times. Follow these four guidelines and your work day will become efficient and effective.
For more strategies on focused practice management, starting with effective guidelines to building client relationships, see Donna Gary’s series Raising the Bar for the Next Generation Law Practice. And, coming soon, Part 3: Marketing and Social Media. Subscribe to the ClientTickler blog today!