Lawyers today practice in a reactive style, which is something that was taught in law school. The phone rings, they answer the phone and, if the matter is urgent, will put down what they were working on to complete the task pertaining to the phone call. The attorney then reads his or her e-mail, responds to a few of them, sees one that is important, and works on that matter. By the time that is done, they will check their mail, perhaps dictate on some of it, respond to others and, by the time that is done, the attorney will forget what they were originally working on, or just put it off for another time.
It’s time to start readjusting how you practice. Create a time map of your day, and stick to it. First, create a one-hour “power hour.” This is a block of time where you don’t take any phone calls or office interruptions. Everyone works better at night or over the weekend when they’re not interrupted, and you can easily do it during the day. Don’t forget to get your staff on board as well.
Consider using a block of time after your power hour to check your mail and return all of your phone calls. If you have a policy of returning all calls within 24 hours, using this template, you will never leave a call unreturned in those 24 hours. Also consider setting up time blocks for marketing two or three times per week, as well as a block of time for exercise, or even other time out of the office.
Set up a block of time to see your clients. However, stick to it! If your Power Hour is between 9 and 10 a.m., never schedule a client meeting during that time, as the proactive lawyer must stay disciplined!
The goal for mapping your day is to manage interruptions. Interruptions are the major factor that drives attorneys to work longer hours and bill (and collect) less time. Time maps lead to attorneys being more disciplined, more proactive in the approach to handling cases, and ultimately being more efficient and profitable.
For more helpful tips, join the MBA's Law Practice Management Section. Call MBA Member Services at (617) 338-0530 to join.