In the race to the top, sometimes the harried white rabbit from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland springs to mind, scampering around and franticly remarking “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” Sometimes, the faster we try to get things done, the more often we have to redo them, and sometimes important items slip through the cracks. Our goal this month is to offer some practice and tech tips to keep you ahead of the game.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo. The technique involves breaking tasks into work intervals of 25 minutes each with short (5–10 minute) breaks in between each interval. If you find your to-do list growing faster than your done list, we recommend giving this method a try.
During the 25-minute work interval, minimize you email client. We recommend disabling pop-up notifications as well to avoid distraction. Only open the applications needed for the task you intend to work on. Consider shutting the office door and instructing support staff to save nonemergency messages for the break periods when you reopen the office door. You may be surprised how much you can accomplish in each 25-minute period.
Moosti, Time Management in the Clouds
If you are a Pomodoro Technique follower and find yourself stranded somewhere without your timer, fear not. In a pinch, you can turn to Moosti, a Google Chrome application with a similar timer structure that allows you to set, 5-, 10- and 25- minute intervals from anywhere that you have Internet access. Just go to www.moosti.com to check it out. The application is freeware made available by software developer Erick Jung and can be installed on your desktop or laptop to provide desktop notifications when activated.
Spencer Consulting, TimeManagementForLawyers.com
Margaret Spencer Dixon, Founder and Principal of Spencer Consulting, focuses on time and practice management for lawyers. She offers public and in-house seminars and CLEs and provides a collection of articles and resources, including a word template for time tracking in six-minute increments. These resources are available at http://www.timemanagementforlawyers.com/articlesdownloads/.
Often, the first step to solving a problem is recognizing there is one. With RescueTime, you can monitor your web browser activity and get weekly reports indicating how your time is slipping away. RescueTime runs in the background on your computer and mobile devices and tracks the time you spend on websites or in applications, creating a digital picture of your day. If you ever wonder how much time you spend on email or lose in meetings, this application can give you the answer. If you are determined to improve your productivity, this application goes a long way to showing you how. RescueTime lite is available for free, and will allow users to track time in websites and applications, set personal goals (such as reducing time spent on email by 30 minutes per day), and receive weekly reports of your activity. The Lite version alone is enough to increase your monthly billable hours, but if you want a stricter regimen, upgrading to Premium ($9/month or $72/year) adds the following features:
- Track time away from the computer (meetings, phone calls, etc.)
- Receive alerts when you achieve your daily goals
- Block distracting websites to stay focused
- Keep a log of your daily accomplishments
- Obtain more detailed reports and filters
- Speed up data processing
There are a ton of helpful tools out there that we will continue to evaluate for your benefit. Too many time management tools can end up costing you time, but the right balance will make your practice take off. Try some of these ideas on for size and see what works best for you.