2013 definitely feels like a very busy year. When I speak to Directors of Recruiting, CMOs and heads of PD across the country, I constantly hear, “our departments have so much on our plates, where are we supposed to find the time to get it all done?”
There are no easy answers to finding time when we feel overwhelmed with things to do. However, I do want to offer a few strategies for how to maximize your value to your Firm and get the most important projects accomplished, no matter how much is going on.
- Accept the fact that in a reactive, client service focused law firm environment, on your BEST days you will only have about 3 hours of proactive time to initiate and focus on projects. The fact is that most of your day will be spent reacting, putting out fires and responding to new requests. So when you plan your to-do list, make sure to be realistic about the amount of time where you can control what you are working on vs. the majority of the day where you can not.
- Conduct a “time usage audit” on yourself to identify the highest value projects and the results you produce in your role. To do this, you will need to keep track of how you spend your time for a week (or recreate it based on the emails you sent and received, meetings you attended and calls you made and received). Identify the most productive results you achieved and the time you invested to get these results. For example, if the memo you wrote for a committee resulted in them approving a program you know will benefit your attorneys, this 5-hour investment of your time would now be classified as a high value project. The goal of this audit is to identify what your high value projects look like, so you can MAKE time for them.
- Create “focus time” to get these high value projects, with the highest return on time invested, done! As a service provider in a law firm, you will rarely have more than a few minutes of “proactive time” to work on high value projects. I encourage you to block out 30 minute chunks on your schedule, the way you would for a meeting, so you can focus on those important high value projects. Three to four 30-minute chunks of time, invested over the course of a week, will result in getting the most important things done, not just the urgent ones. When we make time to initiate rather than just react, we feel more in control of our work and are able to produce the highest value results for our firms.
To read more on this, take a look at a Time Management article I recently wrote.