3-minute read, 5-minute exercise and 20-minute homework
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In our last article, we discussed how you need to get comfortable with using automated documents in your practice. You probably had a lot of ideas about what you could do with automated documents and how good it would be to enjoy the benefits. But have you started to put your ideas into action? Or did you get too busy on that spinning wheel?
Busyness Is Not A Sign of Success
It’s a sign that you’re not working efficiently. That was great in the era of billable hours and when you could charge according to how long it took you to complete a task and clients never questioned a bill. But busyness doesn’t cut it in modern practice. When you step away from the billable hours model, you also need to step away from being busy.
Clients don’t care how many matters you’ve worked on today, how many phone calls you’ve taken or how many meetings you’ve attended. It’s not about you. They care whether you have done what you have said that you would do for their matter. Not whether you’ve put it on your endless, tangled, tragic excuse for a to-do list, but whether you’ve done the task.
Do you know which stage each matter is at (without taking two hours to check your files)? Do you know what you need to work on this afternoon (without taking 10 minutes to think about what needs to happen next)? Do you know when you’ll next work on a business development task (or is the first task to find time to work on business development)?
Set Aside Time to Become Less Busy
You need to work more to organise your day to day tasks so you can work as efficiently as possible. Until you have systems in place to efficiently schedule every new task that comes your way, you’ll need to schedule a regular time each day or few days to manually do it.
Look at all of the tasks you currently have. Have they all been scheduled to happen or are they floundering on your to-do list in the hope that when it becomes critically late, you’ll bump another task to finish it? If you don’t know when you’ll do something, when will it be done?
Schedule every one of your current tasks now. Make sure you schedule your tasks according to the way that you like to work. If you like to group like tasks together, do it that way. If you prefer to do all the tasks on one matter together, do it that way. Think about how to allocate your time efficiently. Do you need an hour for that meeting, or can it be done in 40 minutes?
Build in some buffer time and bad-day time for when things don’t go according to schedule. If you have a great day, enjoy that bonus time as extra time for business development or a well-deserved break.
Now, look at all the time you have in your schedule between the current tasks. It’s the 5-minutes here and 15-minutes there that add up over a whole day. What is the most efficient use of your time during those moments? Why don’t you have a list of smaller 5-minute tasks that you can jump to and complete in between your main tasks?
Now your week should be looking much better. You won’t have to waste time thinking about what needs to happen next or where the few minutes between tasks went. When it comes time to do a task, do it. You can trust that everything else will get done because you’ve scheduled those tasks too.
Set Aside Time to Become More Efficient
Now here is the key. Schedule a regular time to review your week and learn to become more efficient. Look at everything you had to do. What tasks did you repeat again and again? Do you need to be doing the same things again and again or can they be done more efficiently in a different way?
Critically analyse your process for doing things.
Talk to other legal professionals to see what they do to work more efficiently. Learn about different ways of doing things. Be open to new ideas.
Now try something new and find what works for you. It could be as simple as linking a scheduling app on your phone to your work calendar. Or preparing some client resources, so you don’t have to answer the same questions again and again for different clients. Do something new this week and discover your new efficiency.
Now repeat each week until you are happy that you’re working as efficiently as possible.
Exercise and Homework
This week’s exercise and homework is simple. In the next 5-minutes, schedule regular times each week for organising your tasks and schedule a regular 20-minutes to review your week and learn to become more efficient.
That’s it. Now when the time comes, do it.
You’ll become more efficient quickly by using our range of automated documents in your practice now. To access these documents and access a community group of innovative legal professionals, join our community.