Time Management for Law Firm Associates (Part 2: Setting Yourself Up (in Advance) for Success)
Part 1 of this post (“Tips & Tricks for the Work Day“) presented ideas to help you plan and organize your day at the office. The following items are aimed at the big picture, with the aim of setting you up in advance to achieve a higher level of effective productivity on your most important work.
- Organize Your Environment: Clear and organize your office space (including your calendar (see #2), your Inbox and any document management systems you might be using). Studies have shown that a prepared, organized environment leads to more effective and efficient behaviors. While it may seem like the last thing you want to do, taking ten minutes to organize after a busy day can save you hours down the road.
- Use a Calendar: Be sure to enter any deadline into your calendar system as soon as you receive it and include reminders to ensure you are on track to meet that deadline. I also find that putting many of my tasks in my calendar (both professional and personal–see #4), helps keep me on track.
- Don’t Snooze: Before you go to bed, set your alarm for the time you will get up in the morning and commit yourself to it. Do not build in snoozing time, as this is habit will only shorten your effective sleep cycle and increase your morning stress. Getting out of bed and planning your day is a much more efficient (and, ultimately, satisfying) use of your time than staying in bed and fitfully slapping the snooze button.
- Non-Negotiables: Write a list of “non-negotiables” for your personal health and well-being and make sure that you do not forfeit them at any cost. For example, if your non-negotiables are to go to the gym three days a week and not eat junk food, put your gym appointments in your calendar and honor them like any other appointment and prepare (in advance) a stash of healthy, tasty foods to keep on hand at all times (if necessary, schedule grocery store trips or food orders into your calendar).
These each go hand-in-hand with time management because maintaining a routine and staying happy and healthy enhances performance and prevents otherwise inevitable distractions from wasting (as much of) your time.