If you’re a solo or small firm lawyer, you wear a lot of hats. Marketer, Chief Strategist, Phone Intake, Psychiatrist, Accountant, you-name-it. Work ethic will get you a long way, but to really scale your firm you need to embrace delegation and manage YOURSELF better. Time management is a vast science that can’t be fully explained in a short amount of space, but here are some tips to get you working smarter:
1. Say “No”
Every choice you make in life is saying “no” to something else. If you don’t have clear boundaries around what you are trying to accomplish in a given day, others will invade your calendar and set those priorities for you. If you don’t manage yourself in this way, the world will impose it upon you. You have to be OK with saying “no” to things that simply don’t matter to your bottom line.
2. Organize and Execute Around Priorities
This may sound simple, but it’s shocking how many attorneys waste their day on issues that don’t actually make them any money. If you’re not sure which priorities are the most important for you, ask yourself this: “What one thing could I do right now that would make everything else easier at my firm?” We often spend time on things that are urgent but not necessarily important. Plan around projects that will actually make a difference in your daily routines and your firm’s income.
3. Start Thinking in Week-long Blocks
Many people organize their lives day-by-day. It can feel chaotic and “ad hoc.” Instead, start organizing yourself by the week. There will still be plenty of curveballs, but it’s much less stressful to have blocks of time already set aside for the things you care about. Part of this is realizing that you have a limited amount of physical and emotional energy, and that’s OK. Choose what you are going to spend that energy on ahead of time, or you will continue to feel depleted at the end of every day.
This is just the beginning of your time management journey, but these are huge steps in the right direction. Take control of your firm and your life, because no one else is going to do it for you.