It’s great to have systems that limit internet and email use by your staff. You want your staff to be focused on working on your cases, i.e., preparing discovery responses, taking new intake calls and scheduling depositions. But have you ever thought that just maybe you might be more productive if you impose the same rules upon yourself?
It’s so tempting to take a moment here or there to surf the web or check email. Once you set up a system to deny yourself from these time-wasting activities, you’re on the track to simplifying your day, focusing on your most productive work and getting your day back.
Simplify Your Workday
Find a handful of ways to deny yourself every day. Begin by implementing specific rules FOR DENYING YOURSELF the ultimate time-dump of web surfing, email and unscheduled phone calls. Your 3 rules for self-management will simplify your workday:
Rule #1: No web surfing (includes Facebook)
Rule #2: Review email on a schedule (i.e., noon and 4 p.m.)
Rule #3: No unscheduled phone calls
It’s so hard to deny yourself of these guilty pleasures and you’ll have times that you just can’t resist. But don’t give up—you must substitute good habits for the bad ones and once you’ve reinforced your new habits for 66 days, it will be hard to go back to your bad habits.
How Top Executives Track their Time
Peter Drucker, the management guru, has a practical tip for implementing these rules (check out his book, The Effective Executive). For just a day, track your time—that’s right, track every minute of your day. You’ll be disgusted how much time you spend that has no value to your clients.
“The ability to delay gratification, or to deny yourself, is an essential life skill. So develop the habit of denying yourself in small ways a dozen times a day.”
Perhaps you spend 5 minutes chatting with a college buddy or you check your fantasy football stats, but whatever it might be, the cumulative effect of the these useless activities sucks time out of your day. By tracking your time—at least for one day– you’ll have a better handle where you’re wasting time.
Focus on Your Highest Value Cases
Put a letter (“A, B, C or D”) next to every case where you spend time. Categorize your cases from “A” to “D” based upon the settlement values of your active cases. You should have settlement values based upon the realistic value that you recommend for settlement. The categories for your settlement values, by way of example, could be:
“A” cases: $1 million or higher
“B” cases: $500k to $1 million
“C” cases: $300k to $500k
“D” cases: Below $300k
The “A” cases are your top cases and these are the cases where you should be spending your time. 80% of your income will come from 20% of your cases, and you don’t want to waste your time on your lower value “C” and “D” cases.
“Few things will have more impact on your life than what you allow to occupy your mind.”
The highest and best use of your time will be working on your highest value “A” cases that will make the most money for your law firm. Once you’ve tracked your workday, you have to answer: How much time did you spend on your “A” cases? By keeping track of your time, you’ll know where you’re spending your time…and you might not like the answers.