7 Tricks to Accomplishing More in Less Time

There is a high value placed on getting a lot done in a tight period of time. Whether you’re in-house, at a law firm, in the public sector or working for a non-profit, it can often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day (or week or month).  But the reality may not be as it seems. Here are seven tricks to accomplishing more in less time.

Prepare your environment

Clean, uncluttered, bright, pleasantly appointed space with comfortable temperatures is conducive to focus and flow. The seconds you invest to prepare your environment will earn you minutes, if not hours, of productivity over the long haul.

Begin by centering yourself (your mind)

It’s easy to convince ourselves that we don’t have the time to pause or meditate or take an occasional short break as we transition into and out of our myriad tasks, but the calm focus that results from even the briefest moments (30-60 seconds) of deep breathing or silent awareness of our internal states has been shown to enhance “flow” and multiply productivity.

First things first

Identify 1-3 tasks whose completion will be of the most value to you and/or your team. Schedule time at the very beginning of your day to complete the most valuable one.

Shut out the noise

Close your door. Turn off the computer/phone ringer. Put on headphones or get out of the office entirely, if necessary/possible. While most lawyers’ roles require that they be reachable, there are relatively few issues that require an instantaneous reaction to a beep, buzz or ring. Calendar high-priority tasks as you would a client meeting or doctor’s appointment. Your colleagues will see you’re unavailable and be less eager to intrude.

Value effectiveness over efficiency

Focus on only one task at a time. It is the rare individual who’s even remotely as effective when “multi-tasking” as when fully engaged in a single project. Ignore everything else until your priorities are completed. Doing a great job on something very important is far more valuable than doing a decent job on 5 relatively unimportant things.

Let your tech watch your back

Set up a “bat phone” with a special number shared only with your closest friends/family. Emphasize that, during business hours, this is for emergencies only.

Set strict time limits for non-priority tasks

Work tends to expand/contract to fit the time/space allotted for it, so block off tight timeframes for necessary but low-impact tasks and race to complete as many of them as possible in the time allotted. Consider these “wind sprints” for your productivity muscles. At the end of each, rest, re-center and repeat.

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