Rethinking Your Tasks

  • February 01, 2016
  • David J. Bilinsky

Getting efficient with your goals and time

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them…

- Music, Lyrics and recorded by: Jim Croce

As lawyers we are accustomed to working long, hard hours. Indeed, some writers such as Jordan Furlong have David Bilinskystated there is no such thing as work-life balance as our lawyer work culture has changed over the last while from moderate to frenetic. As our clients’ demands and needs sped up, our pace increased to meet them. However, while our clients’ figured out how to increase efficiencies with technology and new ways of doing things, we as lawyers fell behind. Jordan’s suggestion is that we now need to learn to reshape the way we work to align better with what our clients want and what we need. In the process we can consider and address the toll that our current pace places on our lives and those close to us.

To start, we need to perform better client service in ways that reduce the time we spend on a matter. This leads to learning how to increase efficiencies and improve workflows to accomplish more in less time. There is a role for the increased use of technology here. Besides figuring out how to be more efficient in the office, we also need to turn our minds off when we are out of the office to get the rest and relaxation we need to continue to be on the top of our game and avoid burnout. We all know what we love to do outside of work to relax; the trick is finding or creating the time to do it.

So how do we do this? In January 2016, Inc. magazine published an article entitled “A Simple, Science-Backed Trick to Better Work-Life Balance.” All of us leave our desks each night with uncompleted goals and tasks. Brandon Smit of Ball State University found these uncompleted tasks are in-trusive and interrupt our evening’s peace. He cited the Zeigarnik effect, wherein uncompleted tasks are more likely to be remembered and intrude on your non-work time, interrupting your ability to recharge.

But Smit found a way to neutralize these intrusive thoughts. Before leaving the office, not only make a list of your outstanding to-dos, but take the next step and clearly plan when, where and how you will tackle each one. He found that by specifying how you will deal with these as-yet uncompleted tasks, you can put these matters out of your mind and lessen their intrusion into your private time. You need not worry about unfinished business waiting for you back at the office. There were added benefits from adopting this approach. Smit found that by using this system, participants found it easier to let go of work. Your mind can relax as it “knows” that you have thought about how to accomplish the tasks that you need to get done.

By not only planning what you need to do but also when, where and how you will do it, you tell your mind in its restful time it can stop worrying. This way you can use your relaxation time to do the things you want to do, now that you have found them.

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The views expressed herein are strictly those of David Bilinsky and do not reflect the opinions of the Law Society of British Columbia, CBABC, or their respective members. 

David J. Bilinsky is the Practice Management Advisor for the Law Society of British Columbia.
Email: daveb@lsbc.org
Blog: thoughtfullaw.com