Blog post • 27 Feb 2023

Ultimate Time Management Guide For Lawyers

Time management plays a very crucial role in our day-to-day work and the activities we carry out. Managing our time properly means getting the best of the hours available in a day. How we manage our time has a direct relation to how we manage our work.

What Is Time Management?

It is a process by which you plan your tasks and objectives within a specified timeframe and thus. It regulates your performance in a manner that fosters optimal use of available time resources.

Reasons Why Time Management Is Helpful

1. Enhances the quality of work

When you manage your time properly, you’ll be more able to produce quality work. Since you’ll be in a position to spot and avoid mistakes by paying attention even to the tiniest details.

2. Stronger sense of self-efficacy

By managing your time accordingly, you’ll never miss a deadline. You’ll be proud of accomplishing the tasks at hand before the deadline. This can boost your confidence.

3. Lowers stress

Stress can arise when you have several pieces of work to attend to and the deadline is near. But what if you are a proper planner who takes into account the importance of time management? Well, having adequate skills in time management can make your work-life better.

4. Higher productivity

Spending your time and concentrating on one task can make it stand out.

Understanding The Importance Of Time Management For Lawyers

When you handle the available time you have better and use it to the fullest, you can do so in a very creative manner. You can make both short and long-term plans and set attainable and realistic schedules. Also, you can take not only efficient but also timely breaks. This way, you can view the tasks at hand not as dreaded obligations but rather as opportunities.

Proper time management is needed across all career fields. But especially for lawyers, it can be a very helpful practice. As a lawyer, you have constant demands from partners and clients. This can keep you working around the clock to beat the deadline.

According to the Thomsom Reuters Institute and based on the logged data of 170 US-based law firms, the productivity of US lawyers dropped in 2022. Their research found that the average hours worked per lawyer dropped to 119 billable hours per month. For example, in 2017, when they started tracking data, lawyers logged 134 billable hours per month. Low utilization rates could be a sign that lawyers need more clients or they need to work on improving their efficiency (source). On average, a lawyer should be able to account for 80% of his or her time.

Here we’ll share some tips to become more productive and manage your time better.

1. Set Goals And Prioritize

Before you start setting goals, you need to know what’s important. Thus, it’s best to take a few steps back and analyze what the most important tasks or responsibilities are for that particular week or month. This will help you to stay focused on the right things.

When you know your most important tasks, you can start making your goals really specific and measurable. What sub-tasks need to be done, by whom, and when? Break them down into smaller tasks or steps and determine whether you need to do them today, this week, or this month. This planning is very helpful with larger tasks that have a specific deadline.

By breaking bigger tasks into smaller steps, you’ll be able to work your way back. Starting with the deadline and knowing exactly when you need to deliver on sub-tasks in the weeks previous to the deadline.

Also, make sure to determine how urgent a certain task is, and what kind of impact it will have. By understanding what you need to do, you’ll be able to distribute time more efficiently across all your activities.

2. Cut Distractions And Interruptions

When you want to become more productive, getting distracted is really not helpful. But in today’s life, there are so many distractions, it sometimes is hard to prevent interruptions.

One of the best tips to prevent interactions from throwing you off your focus is to create a distraction-free workspace. Whether you work from home or in the office, find a quiet place to work. If you’re easily distracted by noise, try using noise-canceling headphones or white noise to block background noise.

Multitasking is also a big no when you want to become more productive. Thus, try to focus on one thing at a time.

When you work in an office, turn off your e-mail notifications or phone when you need some deep work to be done. Also, let colleagues know you need some time to work without being interrupted.

3. Stay Focused And Avoid Procrastination

Staying focused and avoiding procrastination can be tough. But there are a few tips that can make it a little easier. Have a routine and stick to a schedule. This can help you stay focused and avoid procrastination. Try using a timer to work in focused intervals - like the Pomodoro method. Here you work for a set amount of time and then take a quick break.

5 Time Management Tips For Lawyers

1. Practice The Basics Of Time Management

Because of differences in preferences and work habits, there’s not a single approach to productivity. But rather, it comes down to using the right tools and techniques that complement your approach to work.

First, you need to understand the mentioned aspects of time management. Start by tracing and accounting for how you spend your hours or days. Check your time-tracking software to get a better understanding of how you spend your hours. And how much time specific tasks take.

Besides, you can guard yourself against activities that consume your time and are of less or no importance. Also, you can decide on the time of the day when you can use your energy to the fullest.

2. Cut The Cost Of Task Switching

Doing several tasks at a go can be dangerous, especially for lawyers. Yet, as a lawyer, it’s often necessary. Needless to say, switching tasks can make you lose focus. Because every moment you switch a task or client account, it takes several minutes before you settle and regain focus. But how exactly can you cut this cost?

Well, to begin with, you can try focusing on a single task or client for a certain period before switching. Also, set specific times each day for checking and responding to emails of that particular client. Especially if you have trouble focusing your energy on one task, you can decide to group similar tasks. This will help you cut the cost of switching tasks.

3. Use A Timer

Timers are not only meant for tracking billable and non-billable hours since they provide valuable insights into the time spent. But you can also use a timer for saving time. Have you heard of the Cirrilo method, also known as the Pomodoro technique? The basic idea is to break your workday into 25-minute intervals. During such a period, you focus on a specific task. Then you take a quick 5-minute break between each interval.

The reason this method is so great is that it helps you avoid distractions and stay focused. With the Pomodoro technique, you're more likely to get more done in that 25-minute interval. Because you're really focused.

Another reason this method is awesome is that taking those short breaks actually helps you avoid burnout. And by breaking your work into smaller, manageable intervals, you're less likely to put things off and procrastinate. You might feel more motivated to start a task if you know it's just for 25 minutes.

4. Embrace The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule means that about 20% of your actions will account for 80% of the value you create. Thus, as a lawyer, you should pay more attention to the activities that have a greater impact on the case of your client. Those tasks should come first.

5. Embrace The Use Of Apps

Nowadays, there are many helpful tools to help you manage your time better. Time-tracking software can be a game changer for law firms when it comes to keeping track of billable and non-billable hours.

Automated time-tracking solutions let you log the amount of time spent on a specific client or task. They help you fill in your timesheet, by capturing time spent on documents, emails, or meetings. Every time you open a document or start an e-mail, it will track your time. Other apps have built-in reminders to help you track time during the day.

Many apps also have built-in to-do lists, calendars, and even task prioritization features. And because everything is in one place, you don't have to worry about losing track of tasks or appointments.

In short, apps and time-tracking software can help you become more productive and more billable. They are tools to accurately bill your hours and even boost your productivity.

Related article: Uplift Your Law Firm’s Processes & Profitability

A New Way Of Tracking Time

TIQ Time helps lawyers build complete and consistent time entries with an add-on to your Practice Management System and Document Management System. To ensure that filling out a timesheet is as easy as possible for every fee-earner, TIQ Time automatically captures the time spent on activities such as drafting documents, emails, meetings, and other activities.

Would you like to create consistent, high-quality narratives for every time entry? Increase revenues and reduce leakage? And reduce time spent on filling out time?

Please request a demo, we are happy to help you set up the best time-tracking software for your firm