Lawyers often find themselves so inundated with tasks that they question why they became a lawyer in the first place. The salary can be lucrative, but the work is hard. Many lawyers feel as though they’d benefit from an extra set of hands and an extra set of eyes just to get through the day to day. If you need some productivity help on your way to becoming the best lawyer you can be, you’re not alone. It doesn’t require a miracle – it’s just a little restructuring.
1. Treat Everything Like a Mandatory Appearance
You show up to meetings and in court exactly when you’re supposed to. You’re prepared, and you accomplish exactly what you set out to accomplish. Treat every single task you need to get done the same way. Sure, there’s no one to hold you accountable if you don’t respond to all your emails at the same time, but that doesn’t mean you should give yourself a free pass. Structure your time like everything you REALLY have to do is equally as important.
2. Make Use of Assistants and Coworkers
Paralegals, assistants, secretaries, and other members of your law firm are all working towards the same things. Know when to delegate tasks to them. Smaller things, particularly tasks that involve routine organization or sending canned responses to common inquiries, can be passed off to a task rabbit. If you don’t have a task rabbit, past them off to the person who has the least to do. Trade off menial duties if everyone feels equally overwhelmed – doing the routine stuff is a little boring, but it gives that person an easy day.
3. Use Productivity Tools
Productivity tools will allow you to prioritize and keep track of all the pokers you have in the fire. Tools like Nozbe are great for lawyers and other busy professionals that need to solve a lot of problems for a lot of people. With everything condensed into a single interface, you’re able to easily review all of your tasks without forgetting the peripheral things that are also necessary to your success. No need to worry about lost sticky notes or memos getting lost at the bottom of a drawer. Just plug information into your tool the moment you receive it.
4. Let Someone Else Proofread Your Writing
Lawyers write a lot, and their writing is important. This writing needs to be proofread and proofread again in order to assure it’s clear, concise, and accurate. There’s little room for ambiguity in legal writing. Letting someone else proofread it will save you time, and more importantly, improve the quality of your writing. Someone else is more likely to notice the things you forgot – if you didn’t know or remember something on your first draft, you’re likely to forget it again on your second draft.
5. Jumpstart Your Brain
It’s hard to jump into a movie about twenty minutes before the conclusion. You’re immersed in the thick of it, and you have no idea how you got there. Rather than diving right into the heart of a complicated matter, consider the smaller things first. Focus on facts you’re sure of and potential solutions you’ve already established. Your brain will start working while you’re focused on matters of secondary importance or things you already know. Once you’re sharpened and focused, proceeding to the difficult parts of a case or document will be much easier.
6. Keep a Running Count of Tasks
You might not finish your whole to-do list, and that’s okay. Keep your to-do list with the unfinished items and set up your to-do list for tomorrow. Start that list with the things you couldn’t get done today. By making them your first priority in the morning, you’re preventing procrastination and disallowing small things from slipping through the cracks.
7. Move Around More
Lawyers spend a lot of time sitting or standing in one place. When the body stagnates, so does the brain. Move around to get your blood flowing. Go for a brisk walk. Hop on the elliptical. Your body will flood with endorphins that boost your mood and melt away stress, giving you a clearer head and the ability to take on your next big task.
Productivity comes about in different ways for different people. If you feel as though you’ve tried everything and you still aren’t doing as much as you’d like, just ask other lawyers how they manage. You might get some advice you’d never considered.