Paralegal Tips for Better Time Management

Most of us are eager to work smarter, not longer—hours. Below are some tips for overloaded paralegals to help get out of the permanent time crunch.

—— Managing priorities ——

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
The truth is probably that most lawyers don't overload their paralegals because they are plotting to drive them towards insanity. They act in accordance with the pressures that they are under themselves and some of their demands may be due to their own lack of overview of their paralegals' workload. One remedy can be to put together a list of all the tasks you have been given. Then, realistically, go through the list and attach time frames to each of these tasks. Finally, assign numbers according to what you believe are your boss's top priorities. Then share that list with your lawyer.

The next step is to find the courage to set up an "efficiency" meeting with your boss during which you will hand her/him your lists and ask if you've accurately numbered the priority tasks. By discussing how as a team you could handle the overflow, you will likely appear as a problem-solver as opposed to a problem creator while negotiating what you know you can deliver.

This way you have achieved two important goals: one, you know you are on the same page in terms of what is deemed most urgent and most important. And two, you know that your boss has a proper overview of the current state of your workload, which can avoid a situation where new work is piled on without regard to what is already on your plate.

Focusing on the right priorities can help you work faster and in the end, your boss will be more appreciative of your work, delivering the results that s/he expects and that you have agreed upon. Hopefully so!

—— Managing email overload ——

You will never hear someone say that he spent the whole day taking care of voice mail, so e-mail should not control you in that way either. You have to find the combination that works best for you and your practice. Some touch each email only once and dispose of it, others only check emails at designated times of the day.

You can also develop a schedule, in the morning glance over most emails and addressing only the critical ones right away, then some hours later, check progress on the critical emails you addressed in the morning, and half an hour before leaving your office, bulk-clear what has been treated and work on smaller tasks.

—— Know your productivity limits ——

Most people have a maximum for productivity, and when this limit is reached, total productivity starts to drop, so make sure you know your limits and those of your boss, too!

Once in a while, when you feel your lawyer is in a really good mood, you can try to remind him that 8 hours of work by a healthy, well-rested paralegal are easily worth 12 hours of work by a tired and frustrated one! In any case, as working around the clock won't fix the problem of being overloaded, you can either be clear about your limits (as well as about your productivity and performance) or be set up for failure in the long run!

Many experts recommend working in segments, with 20 minutes segments being usually a good rule of thumb. But the best way is to find your own rhythm and schedule. Observe your schedule and notice the patterns you follow on your most productive days. Then build a schedule around those patterns.

—— Put up boundaries and take breaks ——

The array of ways we connect with each other can sometimes make us want to literally hide in a cave in order to be able to get work done. So, if possible, on deadline days, try to put up an electronic version of the “do not disturb” sign, with no logging into social media accounts, no outgoing e-mail (the less you send, the less you’ll receive), and no phone calls until you're finished.

And if your mind starts wandering, it is usually a good sign that you need a break, just getting up and going away from your desk for a short while can restore your mental productivity level for the rest of the day!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...