The following is a guest blog post by Ritu Goswamy, Esq. Ritu is a lawyer, author, and legal productivity consultant. Her New Billable Hour™ system allows lawyers to expand their time by billing themselves first. Ritu’s first book, The New Billable Hour: Bill More Hours, Be More Productive, and Still Have Work-Life Balance, is available for free by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As lawyers, we may think that there’s not enough time to get everything done. When we feel like we’re “spinning out,” learning the latest time management hack just adds to our stress. We can’t create more hours in the day, but can maximize the hours we have. Consider these five methods to maximize the hours in a day as ways to become more aware and in control of your time. When we are in control, the “spinning out” lessens and our focus deepens.
- Monotask. Multitasking has been around for a long time, but recent research has shown that trying to do more than one task at a time actually hinders productivity. An article from Time goes so far as to say that multitasking is bad for us, because we’re wired to be monotaskers. We need to learn to tackle one task at a time.
- Take breaks. You’ve heard it before, but really, take more breaks! It’s best to proactively take breaks instead of unconsciously falling into energy-draining, time-wasting activities. For an energizing break, you could breathe, take a walk, or hydrate.
- Slow down. When you’re rushing around and feeling stressed, time gets wasted because your brain isn’t functioning at its best. You end up attacking the project or task that screams the loudest to you. Hint: That project isn’t usually the most important and can wait. When you feel rushed, take a deep breath and regain your composure. Then you’ll be able to clearly see what really needs to be done next.
- Prioritize. Face it, you won’t get through your full to-do list today, tomorrow, or anytime soon. A list is important to track what must be done for your cases, business, and career, but most lists just drag us down. Lighten things up by putting deadlines in calendars, using case management systems to track cases, and setting aside time for big projects that never seem to get done. Each day choose one to three difficult tasks that must be done that day. By prioritizing those tasks, you’ll actually get them done, and will feel like you’re making progress on your list.
- Value your time. To maximize your time, you must value it. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, how do you want to spend them? When you have a certain amount of cash in your pocket, you consider the best way to spend it. Value your time the same way. As you make choices throughout your day, consider whether you’re spending your time in a way that aligns with your core values. For example, the core value of compassion for self and others could guide you in how you use your time.
By valuing our time and ourselves we can approach tackling our days from a centered place. When we then act from that place we can maximize our time and feel more in control of our lives and our law practice.
Feeling stressed in your law practice? Check out these CEB programs to help you balance your life: Avoiding and Addressing Attorney Burnout, Renewal Retreat 2017: Hit Refresh on Your Practice, and Mindful Law Practice.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- Stressed Out? Find Support in a Professional Group
- 8 Things Lawyers Can Do to Address Burn Out
- 6 Ways to Multitask More Effectively
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