You get to the the law office on Monday morning and start right to work. Reviewing files, checking email, returning calls, talking to your legal assistant, being busy. But being busy doesn't always mean that you are being productive. Imagine how much more you could accomplish (and how much more money you could make) if your time and tasks were planned as efficiently as possible. You can make great strides in this department. All you have to do is call a law firm meeting-with-yourself.
Sure, you go to meetings all of the time: law firm meetings, Bar meetings, association meetings, Board of Directors meetings, law committee meetings, the last thing you need is another meeting, right? Wrong. A lot of meetings are not a good use of time, everybody knows that. But taking the time to have a meeting-with-yourself can pay tremendous dividends.
First of all, get over that it feels weird to be meeting with yourself. After all, you are you, right? Not exactly. The point is that via this meeting-with-yourself you, the manager, can direct you, the worker, and you, the worker, will get more accomplished as a result. Having the mindset of a formal meeting sets the stage for an orderly review of the matters to be considered and the schizophrenic manager/worker roles give you accountability to yourself. Weird but it works.
Here's how to do it:
1. Schedule your meetings-with-yourself at a regular date and time. Monday mornings, first thing, are great if they work with your practice. Schedule them as recurring appointments on your calendar so that you won't book over them.
2. Like any well organized meeting you need an agenda. There will be recurring items and current items. Recurring items could include:
- Reviewing progress toward your long term legal career goals. This is always a good idea. The more frequently you revisit what you want out of your legal career, the more likely you are to stay on track and accomplish your goals.
- Law practice & career general business. Have you paid your bar dues, how are you coming with your continuing legal education requirements, are you prepared to speak at the next law section meeting…?
- Administrative issues du jour: Employee issues, IT malfunctions, buying a new copier etc.
- Personal Stuff. Yes, personal stuff-its your meeting. This is a good time to think about your wife's birthday coming up, college plans for your son, that fishing vacation you need to take. What can you plan to get done?
3. The current items, things you will be focusing on this week, are the meat of the meeting. Here you will want to consider:
- What's on my calendar? Meaning what time is already booked and, therefore, what is the remaining time under my control.
- What do I need to accomplish this week? The old ABC method of grading tasks still works. There are some great task management systems available but, if you don't have one, at least identify what it is that is most important to do.
- Schedule time to work on those most important tasks. Estimate the time to complete and schedule an appointment-with-yourself on your calendar to get it done. Then it's off your mind. You just have to show up for the appointment and get to work.
- Set aside specific time periods to work on your B and C tasks. For example Tuesdays and Thursdays 3:00-5:00. Do as much as you can during the time period and leave the rest for the next one.
There's a lot more that can be said about time and task management. But if you will take this one step, a meeting-with-yourself, and follow through, you will achieve more in less time and with less stress. Try it.