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Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009
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Law Practice Management Tip

Need more time?

Do you find yourself facing Monday morning with a huge to-do list and feeling like you have to get everything done at once? Are you overwhelmed by having to be the rainmaker, lawyer, administrator and chief cook and bottle washer at your small firm? Time-blocking may be what you need to get you back on track and keep you there. Barbara Nelson of Successfully Solo explains how time blocking works in this recent blog post of hers:

  1. You get more done in significantly less time by focusing. Multi-tasking is inefficient; it takes 50 percent more time to do something when you are multi-tasking;
  2. Grouping like tasks together saves time. Moving from one like task to another is more efficient than switching gears;
  3. You're more likely to do something if it's on your calendar. Schedule and protect time with yourself on your calendar for everything you want to be sure to do;
  4. Creating a schedule that is more or less consistent each week makes it easier for you and everyone else to know when you are available or not;
  5. If you're interrupted and your priorities are challenged, it's easier to recover and get back on track if you schedule your time and move things deliberately to account for the time you lost;
  6. "Power hours" reserved and fiercely protected for billable work will have a huge impact on your productivity and results.
  7. Include personal goals on your calendar: going to the gym, family time, etc.; and
  8. Match your most productive time with your tough tasks. Are you best in the morning? Need to be behind closed doors by 4 p.m.?

To execute, start by thinking through the different types of roles you play and things you do―then reserve blocks of time for them. The blocks remain consistent week to week; the tasks you do in the block will change. So, I might have a consistent block for marketing, but in that block I might be working on a brochure, creating a presentation, calling people to follow-up, etc., based on what my marketing plans are for the particular week. You might also have blocks that occur monthly, like a "review bills" block. Some suggested blocks, include:

  1. Power hour(s) - focused client work, usually billable;
  2. Phone/e-mail; and
  3. Social networking.

Click here to see a sample time-blocking calendar.

Barbara Nelson provides expert business coaching to a select group of solo and small-firm attorneys who are ready to take their practices to the next level. Barbara isn't a lawyer. She's a business advisor who believes that most people just don't have the time or focus to see the possibilities that are open to them right now.  Barbara's style is direct, to the point, and somewhat irreverent- a good match for her attorney clients. She can be found at: http://www.successfullysolo.com.

Published January 10, 2009

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