Managing Time & Completing Daily Tasks
The importance of how attorneys manage their time is often overlooked. Some attorneys think this is an unnecessary task that they can easily manage “on-the-fly.” However, wise attorneys formulate and implement a time management system that prioritizes the completion of tasks into their law practices. This allows them to perform their job more efficiently so they may not only maximize their income but also have more time for other, i.e., leisure, activities.
Many attorneys perform services pursuant to a retainer agreement where they bill hourly for their work. Poor time management will result in fewer hours expended performing services, which means less income realized over the attorney’s regular billing period. If an attorney receives $250 per hour for services, but only bills 50 hours over a two-week period when the attorney could bill 75 hours, time management must be at the root of the problem. Fewer hours worked and billed means fewer tasks completed, which means less income. It’s just grade-school math.
*Concentrate on one task at a time
Multitasking is an apparent human ability to perform more than one task, or activity, at the same time. An example of multitasking is talking on the phone while driving an automobile. Multitasking may be considered only an “apparent” human ability since it may result in squandered time because of human context switching. Doing more than one task at a time may cause the failure to pay sufficient attention to both tasks and result in mistakes.
Instead of looking at multitasking as performing two or more tasks simultaneously, some view it in a negative light as a two-stage process of repeatedly switching between different tasks. First, actors change their goals by deciding to shift focus to a different task rather than the current task on which work is being performed.
Second, actors then must perform some mental recalibration to “activate” the rules of the second task. It’s believed that this adjustment can waste almost half as much of a worker’s productive time, which is profoundly inefficient. Making a conscious effort to work on only one task at a time may yield more results, i.e., more billable time. Make sure there are minimal interruptions during the time that is designated for “uni-tasking time” and follow it religiously. While it may be possible to become proficient at performing more than one task at a time, it often delivers mediocre results.
*Spend five minutes clearing (cleaning?) off your desk each day
Keeping an organized, orderly, and tidy desk is simple if a lawyer does this from day one of the job. It should then require no more than five minutes each workday. Doing just a little bit on a regular basis should be enough to maintain order of what is a vital workspace. Lawyers can also apply the “touch it once” principle. For each item, ask whether there is enough time in the immediate moment to touch this item just once? This means that after reviewing its contents, it can be addressed, resolved immediately, and removed from the desk. Decide whether it requires a response or needs to be filed. If not, determine whether it can be delegated. Then, take action immediately. If there is not enough time currently to “touch it once” and dispense with it, then it must be left for future completion.
Attorneys who have an orderly workspace and regularly prioritize tasks may expect to perform more work than their counterparts who do not. The completion of tasks requires an ability to immediately focus on the task and what it requires. Confusion related to simply figuring out what work to do next in a chaotic environment is rarely conducive to high productivity.
The California Desert Trial Academy (CDTA) has served the residents of the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley for nine years. It won’t be long before we joyously and proudly celebrate our tenth anniversary! At CDTA, The California Desert Trial Academy is a 21st Century law school tailored to meet the needs of working people. Any lawyer must study and know the law. We believe that practical experience in tandem with legal knowledge is the best road to a successful, rewarding, and prosperous legal career. At CDTA, we train, educate, and develop students to be exceptional attorneys and trial advocates. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.