In the legal industry, our work environment can often be high-octane, but our time is not always wisely spent.
Legal professionals can feel they are struggling to meet productivity demands, which then results in working longer hours rather than finding smarter ways of working.
There are many things that can be done to improve productivity in a law firm - here are three of them.
Create email rules (and abide by them)
The average office worker receives 121 emails per day*, but it can feel like 10 times that many for the average lawyer. You can end up checking email at home, in bed, even in the bathroom, just trying to keep up.
Instead, try allocating set times in your diary just for checking email to prevent overload. Think of it as an appointment in your calendar that you must keep each day. You could try, 30mins first thing in the morning, which will warm you up for the day and clear the decks. You can delete spam, answer urgent questions, delegate activities and file emails as pending so your inbox looks clear. Then another 30mins at lunchtime, and so on periodically through the afternoon to make sure you feel secure that you’re not missing anything, but also that you’re not being sucked into email and ignoring other things you need to do.
Use specific software
Don’t be a slave to technology, use only the right tools that are designed specifically for legal teams, which will make your working life better.
For example, you can move document review and exchange out of email and into a specific online tool. If you’re a transactional lawyer or work on closing deals, get a solution that enables you to control and manage your deal checklists online. Document comparison software is another great way to save time at work, especially when making corrections to Word documents or PowerPoint presentation. You can also securely share files through platforms, like Workshare, which will automatically alert parties to the availability of a new document, rather than you taking time to send a message.
Make 30mins for Mindfulness
Scientific studies show that “…taking brief breaks improves performance on a prolonged task”**. We’ve heard it all before! When you’re busy it can feel like a waste of time to stop for a break, but it’s not if it actually improves productivity. Make your break specific and purposeful, so you don’t feel you’re wasting time. Mindfulness is great for this.
Find a space to sit and fully relax. You don’t need to lie down on a sofa, you don’t even need to close your eyes if you don’t want to. You can just sit down, watch the world or your office pass by and connect your conscious thoughts with your breathing. Use this simple poem by Thich Nhat Nanh – Zen Master – to help you:
Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
This practice can increase focus in the workplace, improve emotional intelligence, help with conflict resolution and reduce personal stress or anxiety.