Manage your practice by managing your time
December marks a particularly stressful time of year. You may be
anxious to tackle your professional to-do list before making plans
with family, finishing up last-minute holiday shopping and ringing
in the New Year. In order to get everything accomplished this
month, you'll need to be effective in managing your time. Here are
six helpful time management tips:
1. Ascribe to a method of time management. Try out
proven methods and get insight from other attorneys. Then,
customize your own approach; there is no "one size fits all"
solution, but there are many effective techniques out there to
adopt. The following are popular time management methods for
- Pomodoro Technique: named after the "pomodoro"
("tomato" in Italian) kitchen timer, this technique breaks down
work into 25-minute time intervals.
- KanBan: a visual productivity system that
originates from Toyota's "just-in-time" production system. An app
called Trello can
be used to implement this system.
- Get Things
Done (GTD): a system of prioritization to organize tasks,
founded by management consultant David Allen.
- Total Workday Control: a system of productivity
using Microsoft Outlook.
- 18 Minutes: as a result of his Harvard Business Review article, columnist
Peter Bregman developed this process for prioritizing your day in
just 18 minutes.
2. Begin and end your day with a task list.
Rather than check e-mail as your first order of business, review
your task list and schedule. Determine which tasks you will
complete that day and when you will complete them. Next, prioritize
those tasks. Conclude your day by reviewing your task list,
crossing off those tasks that you completed and noting those tasks
that must be carried over to the next day. Bonus tip: Make sure
that your list includes tasks that can be accomplished in one day.
That way, even if you don't get to everything on your list, you
will feel some sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. This
will help keep you motivated.
3. Map out your time. Use your calendar not only
to schedule meetings and such, but also to block out time to
complete tasks. This visual exercise should help you maintain focus
and keep you on schedule.
4. Minimize distractions. While
technology has the potential to increase productivity, it can also
cause interruptions if not managed properly. Place your phone on
"do not disturb" or tell your assistant to hold all calls for a
certain period of time. Turn off e-mail and social media
notifications (and if you are truly an addict, there are tools
available to prevent you from visiting certain websites, like
Facebook, for a certain period of time). If you are a Mac user, you
can set your iPhone, iPad
and Mac (OS X 10.9 Mavericks) to "do not disturb"
mode to halt notifications during certain periods of the day. Once
you have minimized these distractions, then allocate specific time
for checking e-mails and social media, and taking and returning
5. Locate your power hour and maximize it. When
do you work best? Is it immediately upon arriving at work in the
morning? Or, is it later in the evening? Whenever it is, find it
and use it. Plan your schedule around your power hour. If it is
early in the morning, use that time for completing tasks that
require significant focus.
6. Give yourself a break. During the workday, get
out of your chair, stretch, take a walk outside, or chat with
colleagues. Studies demonstrate that even a 30-second microbreak
can boost productivity by 59 percent. Try doing something non-work
related on your commute to and from work. Enjoy that time to
Start by employing one or two of the aforementioned techniques
this month. You will be surprised by how one simple change can help
increase your productivity.
Tip courtesy of Heidi Alexander, Law Office Management Assistance
Published December 19, 2013
To learn more about the Law Practice Management
Section, which is complimentary for all MBA members,
contact LPM Section Chair Cynthia E.
MacCausland or Vice Chair Damian J.