Three Steps to Effective Time Management to Advance Your Business

Effective Time Management
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The number of hours in a week has not changed: There are still 168. No more, no less. Yet, we all struggle with squeezing every second out of every hour, every day. I get it … too much to do, not enough time. So, how to do plan your day to get the most effective time management in place.

Stay with me for a minute (still, 60 seconds). This is not an article on time management, per se, but rather a challenge to reflect upon and assess whether the tasks you invest and give your time to, is impeding you dedicating time to building and growing your business. For most of us, it is too easy to lose focus on what we do best (in your case, practicing law) and instead find ourselves scrambling to meet presentation outline deadlines or skipping a potentially high impact networking opportunity.

For decades now, we frequently hear law firm clients lamenting that time management is one of their greatest challenges. Developing the business, delivering extraordinary service, billing AND collecting, and all those administrative tasks many lawyers must attend to, aside from any additional firm or professional development obligations they may have. Yep, it can be overwhelming. That is precisely the reason why we must continuously assess where we are spending our time.

Our clients have heard me say many times, “As a prosperous business owner, you have two jobs:

  1. Deliver extraordinary services to your clients (part of that is producing superior work product)
  2. Be the face of your firm.

Everything else may be delegated or outsourced.” You must allocate time to those tasks, which are in your “expert” wheelhouse, and assign to others the items which are not a productive use of your time.

With that in mind, then, why do some lawyers eat meals at their desks most days instead of scheduling coffee/meal with a referral source, client or even colleague to nurture those relationships (this task falls under “being the face of your firm”)?

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How is it a good use of a lawyer’s time to think they can blog regularly, enough to gain traction to build a robust online reputation? This is totally not a good use of your time. There are writers, even lawyer writers, who can and do stay abreast of issues and timely topics within your area of legal expertise who will curate content for you regularly. For Google’s purposes, the content needs to be quick, concise, and factually accurate. 300-500 words, max. This is a marketing task that we never want our lawyer clients allocating time to; it’s just not worth their limited time, and likely, the content developed may not be “marketing ready”. Check this task off your list and consider, instead, how you can re-direct that time to nurturing leads, new contacts, and other qualified sources of new/expanded business.

It’s somewhat troubling to me, after over 25 years of working with lawyers, that they complain about not having enough time to do “x y z” in an effort to develop a prosperous book of business. Yet, when I hear how they spend a typical day, I think to myself, “Oh my gosh, he/she is wasting so much time on tasks that others within the firm could do.” For instance, one of our clients insisted on doing all of her own document revisions because “my assistant can’t read my team’s writing.” Really?

In connection with building a prosperous business, why do some lawyers resist engaging business development experts instead of beating themselves up not for knowing “what” or “how” to attract new clients? We hear from frustrated lawyers all the time that they know “what” to do but don’t know “how” or they’ve never made the time to get organized. In short, they don’t know how to build a book of business, in an organized manner. And, why would they? Law school or anything/one up to this point has taught them how. Building a prosperous book of business is not intuitive, for most.

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When we hear these lamentations from well-intentioned lawyers, I use the common example of “you retain a CPA to handle your year-end accounting/taxes, right? Then why would you not retain a legal marketing expert to guide and advise you on how to build a prosperous legal services business?”

So, the question is this: on a daily basis, are you doing what you do best and delegating those tasks outside of your legal expertise to other trained professionals? Why or why not?

Consider these steps to re-capture your valuable time:

  1. For a month, enter into your time/billing system all administrative, marketing, and non-billable entries. Keep as detailed entries as possible.
  2. At month’s end, review all non-billable time entries to identify those tasks which may be delegated/outsourced.
  3. Of those tasks which may be delegated, discuss with your firm administrator or trusted advisor/colleague how tasks may be re-assigned internally and/or the outside expertise needed sourced. Seek the needed resources within your network and marvel at how solutions will appear.

Our time flies by too quickly not to ensure that we are maximizing and leveraging every minute to propel our business goals forward. No more playing postman, bookkeeper, stenographer, or housekeeper. Do what you do best and re-assign the rest. You will find that you have more than enough time to build that prosperous business for which you aspire. Kimberly Rice

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