Achieving a Zen-like state
Time divine, from gilded eyes,
– Music and Lyrics by Hinks, Musto, Rue, Shepherd and recorded by Aeon Zen
see the power of the hands of time…
Good time management. Achieving this is truly a Zen-like state where you accomplish all that you wished to do by the end of the day with time to spare for more enjoyable activities. However, aside from becoming a more efficient and effective lawyer, there are other risk management reasons for increasing your time management skills. All of us are working on important things when the phone rings, someone pops into our office or our email program “dings.” During this interruption you may get the feeling that you have forgotten to do something – only you can’t remember quite what. It may have been to insert something in the contract you were drafting that was due today. Or it may have been to file something that was due.
Good time management skills provide us with more than just our recollection of all the things we need to do. They free up our brain to do the important work and give you greater focus on doing what you need to do as they systemize how to organize and accomplish tasks. Here are some ways to do this:
- Write things down: Keeping everything in your head wastes mental energy and can cause stress in thinking that you have missed something along with generating a sense of being overwhelmed by tasks. Accordingly, write things down on a to-do list (or two: one for work and one for home).
- Prioritize: All tasks have two attributes: urgency and importance. Do the urgent and important first (crises and pressing problems), then not urgent but important (longer term projects that will pay off), then urgent but not important (interruptions, phone calls, emails) and lastly not urgent and not important (time wasters).
- Schedule your tasks: Take your calendar for the day and block off times and match them to tasks. Appointments are commitments to do tasks within a set time.
- Avoid distractions and interruptions: Create the quiet time you need. Close the door, put the phone to voicemail and turn off the email. You can’t work well when you are interrupted.
What else can you do?
- Figure out what time in the day you do your best work. Use that time for your highest priority tasks.
- Create a routine. Routines become good habits. Good habits create results. Results generate respect and positive reinforcement.
- Put a note on your door: Tell people when you will be available in your voicemail and block off the time in your Outlook calendar. People will respect your need for quiet time.
- Clean up your work environment: Clutter creates distractions.
- Say no to unnecessary tasks with grace: Suggest others who could do these requests.
- Break big jobs into smaller components: Start in on the first component. Chances are that the job will not seem so daunting.
- Touch things only once: Task it, say no, respond quickly if you can, but deal with it.
Good time management is good practice management, which is a great way to prevent errors, reduce complaints and avoid lost evenings spent doing something you forgot. See the power of the hands of time.
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.