In Part 1 in our series on time management, we covered some basic solutions. In Part 2, we addressed some email management techniques. Now, we’ll consider a variety of technology solutions that will answer for tracking your time, saving your time, and, ultimately, increasing your efficiency.
One of the simplest technology upgrades you can implement is to add a screen to your workstation, or to buy or use a large enough screen that you can split it, such that two windows appear. Studies have shown that this rig increase efficiency in a significant way. And, the reason is clear: the less often you close and open windows, the more time you have to do other things. It’s empirically proven: Every lawyer I’ve ever talked to who has switched to a dual monitor/second window approach will never go back to being single again. Of course, some may question where the point of diminishing returns lies.
Building final documents from templates is another time-saving methodology. In this way, you’re not forced to continually reinvent the wheel, from the drafting perspective. Software products can provide robust features, pull in contact information and offer clause management tools.
Moving to a paperless, or more paperless, office allows you to reduce clutter and search time — it’s far easier to run a global search on a database than it is to leaf through a redweld filled with paper files. If you want a kick-start for getting paperless in the New Year, Ernie the Attorney’s standing at your launching pad for our free January 8 Lunch Hour Legal Marketing webinar on the subject.
I’m an advocate of time tracking, even for flat fee practices. One of the reasons for that is because it’s easier to track the value of your work, if you know how much time it takes you to do it. It’s also important to track your time, and to review your logs, because there’s no better way to force yourself to stop wasting time, in certain quadrants, than by revealing to yourself just how much time you do waste. If you feel like you’re wasting your time, you’re probably wasting more of it than you think. Log it. Examine it. See where you’re wasting time, and curtail those time-wasting behaviors. There are trackers that will log your time automatically, in the backgrounds of your electronic devices, so that you don’t have to manually start and stop a timer.
Tracking Your Movements
The better you can manage your schedule, the less time you’ll spend wondering what you’re doing, and trying to deconstruct your day every morning. You should religiously utilize a single entry calendar (even if it syncs with other calendars) for tasks and appointments. You should create ticklers, or notifications (or series of them), for important, or long-standing, tasks and events. The reasons for creating ticklers are many in number; but, from an efficiency standpoint, the application of ticklers will make it more likely that you’re not caught unawares on due dates for big projects — as, another way that lawyers waste time is by scrambling to work on major projects when hard deadlines are nigh. (We’ll talk more about breaking down big projects, incidentally, at a later point in this series.) Even if you utilize a single-entry calendar, it makes sense that you have various secure access points to it (via your various devices) and that your calendar is synced with your email.
Some lawyers do, however, replace or supplement their calendars with task-based, ‘to-do list’ managers. It’s all personal preference, of course, acting as a window onto how you believe that you are best organized. Even as most task management tools can be synced with other time management and productivity programs, the advantage of these systems is that they are task-focused. Most attorneys view tasks (literally) as ancillary to their emails; but, that may not be the optimal arrangement for you. Popular services include Remember the Milk, Wunderlist and Todoist. LOMAP’s Heidi Alexander reviewed Wunderlist here.
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So, what’s stuck in my head this week?
CAKE has a very unique sound, that goes largely underappreciated by the modern general public. Even though most people know them from ‘The Distance’ (which is a dope song, I know), their entire corpus is strong — including, from time to time, the laying down of some genre-shifting remakes, like the above-linked Hank Williams cover, as well as their covers of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’, Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs‘ and Barry White’s ‘Never, Never Gonna Give You Up‘.