How do these sound?
Endless (unproductive) meetings;
Writing advertising copy that never sees the light of day;
Interruptions from colleagues;
Compliance with another SRA or Legal Ombudsman advice note;
Dealing with regulation that doesn’t apply to your practice area;
Phone calls that go nowhere;
Chewing the fat over poor pay and conditions;
Dealing with financial performance – the endless emails at the month end chasing for fees;
Dealing with WIP sheets where the time never seems to get written off;
Trying to sort out who does which type of work.
I think you get the picture.
Lawyers, by and large, are expected to be self-starters, and this means learning by your mistakes. No one is going to teach you, in a formal sense, a system that will increase your productivity. You are, unfortunately, supposed to work it out on your own, and will find that you spend us much time trying to come up with a system as you do implementing it! You quickly learn to work with your body rhythms and mental state to make sure that you do the really tough stuff when you are freshest; but that still doesn’t help when you are being bombarded with so much unplanned collateral.
If you want to make sense of what is urgent, non-urgent, important and non-urgent and find a proven system for making the most of your (limited) time, then I would recommend that you read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People written by Stephen R Covey. It is a masterful work but so few people, even once they have read it, implement Dr Covey’s sagely advice. In my view he is without peer in the area of time management (although that is only one aspect of the book).
One thing that is key to making the most of your opportunities is that you understand your Purpose: Why are you practising in this way in this area of law? In colloquial terms, what is it that “floats your boat”? It doesn’t do any harm to keep asking yourself the Why question to make sure that once you have stripped away or delegated some of the minor stuff, that what you are left with is the activity that matters to you and enables you to focus intensely on providing the very best service delivery, superpleasing the client and delivering added value.
Next time you are tempted to break away from doing the stuff that matters ask yourself the simple questions: Is what I am doing moving me in the direction of my career goal(s)? If not, don’t do it or certainly cut back on how much time you are devoting to the minor stuff.
For more on developing profitable business, innovating in professional practice and implementing social media, subscribe to the RSS Feed of my Blog. Follow me on Twitter at @0neLife, or @Ju_Summerhayes connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your practice, check out my coaching and consulting firm via LinkedIn, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 075888 15384. I offer a free consultation and will quickly help you indentify the top 3 things that can make the biggest impact to your practice.