In the legal world, long hours are to be expected no matter your professional role. Lawyers and paralegals are particularly known for putting in overtime, with both often working 60+ hours per week. Lawyers, for example, may bill their clients 40-50 hours per week which requires another 40-50 hours of supplemental work, putting their workweek at a minimum of 80 hours.
Both of these professionals are human. They have lives, families, social obligations, and a myriad of other responsibilities to juggle just like everyone else. With so much to do and so little time, it can be difficult to get it all done.
To aide in assistance, here are three time management strategies for these individuals so they can get the most out of each day.
1) Use technology to keep your documents organized:
When lawyers and paralegals are working together, they must be on the same page. Literally. That’s why document management systems are crucial for making sure that they can find exactly what they need in as little time as possible. Fortunately, there are tons of legal document management software on the market. If time is really money, using these systems efficiently will lead to time saved and additional money in the bank.
2) Delegate, trust, and review:
One of the biggest mistakes anyone can make is taking on more than they can handle. It’s an easy thing to do, but it’s not an easy hole to climb out of.
Being able to place trust in others to get work done can help tremendously. Delegation is not an easy practice but can pay great dividends when done well. The best way to start is with simple tasks and as trust is created the tasks can become more difficult. One key is the importance of clarity, with clarity and direction the task will be completed successfully.
3) Create boundaries, know your limits, and take breaks accordingly:
The science is pretty clear that working more than 40 hours per week can be counterproductive and even harmful to your health.
Yeah… right. Tell that to your clients.
The fact is professionals in the law industry have long hours and a lengthy list of things that need to get done yesterday. That said, they aren’t doing anyone any favors by not allowing themselves to relax and recharge from time to time.
Set boundaries with colleagues, friends, and family to give yourself a little room to breathe. Whether you are a lawyer or a paralegal, try learning the art of saying “no.” The fact is that despite your best intentions, you can’t be everywhere at once doing everything for everyone. Give yourself an adequate break in the afternoon and do something that relaxes you.
Also, make sure that you’re getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, more sleep is actually one of the best time management skills out there for professionals. Why? Because research shows that well-rested employees are more productive and have higher levels of cognitive function and creativity. In other words, people who sleep more can achieve more at the office in less time than their exhausted counterparts.
As a lawyer or paralegal, the harsh reality is that you may never escape the 60+ hour work week, and you may even like that. But by working smarter rather than harder you will be freeing up a few extra hours per week that can be spent on other parts of life that you love.