12 Steps Toward Fulfillment in the Practice of Law (Step 3)

Step 3 – Develop and Practice Good Time Management

In this week’s review of the 12-Steps Toward Fulfillment in the Practice of Law, we review Judge Horn’s Step 3 – Develop and Practice Good Time Management. As you may recall, Step 1 was Face the Facts, and Step 2 was Establish Clear Priorities.

Whatever time we spend on our work should be arranged for maximum productivity. Judge Horn suggests that there are at least five areas in which many lawyers could begin to make significant progress simply by paying closer attention. These include the following:  better planning; minimizing interruptions by phone or in person; more careful scheduling and planning of meetings; mastering the paper flow; and more thoughtful and efficient delegation.

As for telephone calls, to the extent possible, we must avoid interruptions while working on priority projects during the most productive period of our day. As far as meetings are concerned, we should make sure the purpose is consistent with our work plan. We should ask ourselves whether a meeting is really necessary, who should attend, and whether the timing is right. If preliminary analysis yields a green light, we should either prepare an agenda for the meeting, or insist that someone else prepare one and then stick to it. As for paperwork, we should touch the paper the minimum number of times necessary. We should read and deal with the paper in a time and manner consistent with our daily plan, not allowing the paper itself to become an inefficient interruption.

Finally, Judge Horn reminds us that if we live by the rule that the way to get things done right is to do it ourselves, we should just get over it. The time and energy we alone have to give, can and will soon run out. What we can accomplish by the thoughtful and efficient delegation to others is significantly less limited. Anything that can be done by others, should be done by them. Those who learn to delegate effectively will free up many of their own hours and see their productivity significantly rise.

Join us next week for Step 4 – Implement Healthy Lifestyle Practices.

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