How to implement effective time management for solicitors

28 Apr 2016
time management

The legal profession is a busy business; you will face demands and challenges in your working life that will require you to manage many different tasks at the same time. That’s why it’s important to follow certain practices to tackle your daily responsibilities and manage your time effectively. Every successful solicitor develops their own techniques to manage their workload, and here are few suggestions to get you started.

Make a list

This is one of the most crucial elements you can implement in order to organise your thoughts. It’s likely you’ll have a million and one realisations and considerations about various cases on any given day, but if you get those thoughts onto paper they will soon seem much less daunting. At the end of each day, take 10 minutes to prioritise your duties and write them down. Get the task you consider to be the most challenging out of the way first, and your day ahead will be significantly more productive and enjoyable. There are now lots of apps out there to help you make and stick to lists.

Avoid distractions  

There will always be distractions to make you lose your train of thought and stop you from focussing on the job at hand. What’s vital is being able to schedule those miscellaneous activities. Phone calls and emails can wait for 15 minutes of scheduled time at specific points throughout your day. You will inevitably receive phone calls of absolute urgency, but the less urgent calls can be left to the secretary until a more appropriate time. If you’re finding it difficult to get quality desk time you may prefer to block out sections in your diary when colleagues cannot book you up for meetings, labelling them as ‘client meetings’ if you can! Remember that as a lawyer you will be asked to record every six minutes of your time so you will need to keep an accurate account of your time for this purpose.

Organise your files

If you work in an office with no clear filing system or your desk is awash with clutter, it will be significantly harder for you to find the case information you’re looking for, and in turn you’ll spend less time working on the things that matter. Implementing a simple system to organise your paperwork will allow you to focus on crossing off your to do list, instead of stressing about the trivial. You may want to move to a cloud based management system so you can work more flexibly rather than always at your desk.

Learn to say no

You will always have a number of tasks demanding your attention, and you will have to categorise the important from the not important. If you’re already snowed under with more pressing challenges, the art of learning to say no will become instrumental to your success. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed and stressed by the sheer volume of work, delegate the less important work to others within your organisation. A law firm partner would always prefer you to be honest and turn down a piece of work rather than take on more than you can manage and fail to deliver.

Overcome procrastination

Procrastination is a universal problem. If there’s something we’d rather not do, we’ll put it off until we absolutely have to. The problem with this is you’ll always feel a dreaded black cloud looming over your head until the job is done. You’ll find you lead a much happier and productive professional lifestyle when you remove these heavy burdens earlier on. So always make these tasks the very first thing on your to do list, it will remove the stress from your life, and you and your clients will reap the rewards. Some people adopt a ‘deal or dump’ attitude; when an email comes in they either deal with it then or regard it as non-important and delete.