All of us want to get the most work done each day in the easiest and quickest way possible. As lawyers, we are pulled in so many different directions each day. That means an entire day can go by, and we can feel as though we did not get very much productive work done. This can be a very unsatisfying and frustrating situation that not only stresses us out but also decreases our income. Here are nine things I do that help me be maximally productive so I don’t have to work nights and weekends. The key is to leverage our time at work to the fullest extent so that we have more free time to enjoy. Whether you adopt some or all of the below productivity and time management suggestions, you will find that your productivity will increase considerably.
1. Not Taking Unscheduled Calls
This is a total and complete game changer. It’s hard and uncomfortable to do at first, but it is completely worth it. Your productivity will be instantly boosted. The key is to be disciplined and to stick with it. Always remember that the easier it is for people to get you on the phone, the less they will value your time. If you do implement this tip, your staff must know the reason behind it and must know that there are no exceptions, absent a serious emergency that requires your immediate attention.
2. Cutting Down Time in My Email Inbox by Half
Reading and replying to emails is busywork that sucks up your time. Only allow yourself to check your email twice per day, and give yourself a set amount of time to be in your inbox. This will add up to considerable time saved because email is truly a time vampire.
3. Cutting Down Meeting Times by Half
Too many meetings run far too long, which means time gets wasted. Start to run your meetings in half the time you used to, and you will find they will be just as productive, if not more productive, than before. Keep in mind Parkinson’s Law, which says that work expands to fill the time allotted.
4. Consistently Closing My Door to Focus Without Distraction and Not Feeling Bad about It
Sure, this can be hard, but how many times do team members come to you with, “Do you have two seconds?” Those seconds can easily add up to 20 or 30 minutes. Close your door and get to work, so you can focus without distraction.
5. Delegating a Lot
The more you delegate, the better. Your productivity ultimately comes down not to how much you can get done but how much you can delegate. Make sure you are doing things in your office that only you should be doing, and delegate all the rest. Attorney and author John Morgan once said, “delegate ruthlessly,” and I do so each and every day whenever I can.
6. Creating Good Systems for Repetitive Tasks
Many things we do each day are repetitive. Make sure you create good and lean systems for completing these tasks. Always be on the lookout for ways to streamline these tasks as much as possible, and, of course, delegate to others as many as possible of those tasks that you don’t need to do yourself.
7. Leveraging Automation as Much as Possible
Technology needs to be fully embraced and utilized because it will increase your personal productivity substantially. The better you use technology, the more productive you will become. If you want to save massive amounts of time, make sure you are fully utilizing ChatpGPT because it is a big blue ocean of possibilities.
8. Hiring Really Good People
The better the people you hire, the more you can delegate. Plus, you will know that the work will get done the right way without your needing to check it very much. This is so very important, and far too many lawyers hire anybody just because they get a little desperate and need help. Always, always, always hire slow, no matter how desperate you are to fill a position.
9. Embracing the Idea That Done Is Always Better Than Perfect
This is perhaps the most important tip of all. If you try to make everything perfect, you are going to waste considerable time. Nothing will ever be “just right,” so get whatever you are working on at any given time out the door and move on to the next thing. Perfect is never happening anyway.
Do you have other ideas that you use to maximize your personal productivity so that you work less? If so, I would love to hear from you, so please email me at [email protected].
Published in GPSolo eReport, Volume 12, Number 11, June 2023. © 2023 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association. The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the American Bar Association or the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division.