Planning with Purpose

Now is the time to start thinking about the week ahead.

Instead of turning up on Monday morning, looking at your desk, emails or the few letters that you might get and then working out which comes first, why don’t you start now planning the important work that you need to get done.

Whether you use a paper list or electronic organiser matters not. The point is: you need to start looking at work in a different way. Don’t let it control you (so much) but instead start working on it.

What I mean is that you need to go back to basics on how you plan your time.

Yes, you know you have to record 6/7 hours of chargeable time but sometimes that may not be the most important thing you need to do. No, instead it might be to spend the first two hours of Monday sorting your emails into those that need a response now, those that can be dealt with later or perhaps passed to someone else to respond to.

My experience of lawyers is that they are poor managers of their time. Recording it is not and never will be the same as managing it, and don’t fool yourself otherwise.

Effectiveness and efficiency is not something that is easily grasped, particularly when it comes to understanding where non-chargeable work fits into a busy schedule.

There are many ways to improve things but priority #1 at this stage is to discipline yourself to make a list of the things that you need to do for the following week and allowing for the usual unexpected interruptions and things that are difficult to completely plan, start working out what you will be doing, and most of all STICK TO IT. Don’t deviate.

The usual rule on changing a habit is that in order to modify your behaviour you have to do so for a period of no less than 21 days.

Do you think you can manage to make a list for 21 days and stick to what you write on it?

This is not really rocket science but you will amazed at the difference it makes to your day.

One tip: don’t make a list that is so long that you never get done more than a few of the tasks. If you find that you are carrying over more than 10 tasks every day for a period of more than a few days then you are either being too ambitious or you seriously need to think as to whether: (i) your case load is too big; or (ii) you are not delegating effectively.

If you need to go deeper into this area I would start with Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits book but whatever you do don’t just pass on this subject. Even if you don’t like the idea of a list you have to work out a system that enables you to control your work rather than it control you.

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