Do your days feel like they’re whizzing past, leaving you with little more than a much longer to-do list?
In busy, always-on-the-go professions like the law, it can often feel like there’s no let-up. However, there are legal professionals out there who have unlocked the secrets of productivity and time management. We all know them — they work fewer than 50 hours a week, they’re always full of energy, and have their priorities in order.
How do they do it?
You can start to regain substantial blocks of time by utilizing readily available technology, tools, and services. Here are five quick and simple ways to start saving time and boosting your efficiency that you can start taking advantage of today.
What time-saving tools and services do you use in your law office? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
#1. Track your time on the go with a timekeeping app
Accurately tracking the time you spend working on tasks is a crucial, but often a slow and laborious process. Adding up your time in one go at the end of the day, or worse at the end of the week, may feel like time saved. However, it’s likely that you’re misremembering and failing to account for work done.
Contemporaneous timekeeping is the only way to ensure that (a) you’re accurately accounting for every minute of potentially billable time, and (b) you’re fairly billing your clients. Try and do this on paper or in a spreadsheet, however, and you’ll quickly get into a time-draining mess.
Timekeeping apps like Time Master, Hours Tracker, and iKeepTime are the answer. They’re mobile apps (so they’re always with you) that allow you to quickly and easily record your time working for each client. Better still, many integrate directly with common billing systems, such as QuickBooks.
#2. Automate your appointments with a scheduling app
Meetings! They’re often essential, but I’m sure we’d all rather have fewer of them. The only thing worse than all those meetings, though? Scheduling them.
We have no doubt all been trapped in a seemingly endless email back and forth, patiently negotiating the best date and time for an appointment to take place. Surely, there is a better and more efficient use of time that all this email and phone tag?
The best simple scheduling apps, like Doodle, allow you to set up a series of possible time slots and then invite attendees to select the times that work best for them. More feature-rich options, like Calendly, integrate directly with your calendar and allow those seeking an appointment with you to choose a slot among your available times.
#3. Access your files anywhere via cloud storage
While lawyers must be cautious about new technology, the most popular cloud storage platforms — like Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive — have proven not only to be exceptionally secure but also serious efficiency enhancers.
The most productive lawyers use these tools for three reasons:
- First, documents become accessible from wherever you have an internet connection, liberating you from the office;
- Second, documents can be shared almost instantaneously with colleagues and others; and
- Third, collaboration becomes simple — everyone can work on one document and all changes are recorded and updated in real time.
Contrary to some lawyers’ concerns, document storage in the cloud is highly secure, maybe even more so than storing documents in your office on paper. Store your work in the cloud, and you’re protected from disasters like fires or floods, backed up multiple times, and encrypted on secure servers.
#4. Use digital dictation software
If you’re on the move a lot (traveling back and forth from court, for instance), then dictating messages, letters, and so on as you travel can be a real time saver. That’s especially true if you take advantage of the latest in digital dictation software — tools that not only record what you’re saying but can type it up and store it automatically in your cloud-storage tools of choice.
Automatic speech recognition tools, like Dragon and Trint, aren’t perfect but can still drastically increase productivity since speaking is much faster than typing. These tools will do their best to turn your speech into typed text, meaning a simple review is required rather than writing from scratch.
For documents that require complete accuracy, there are services like Rev. You can send them your audio files, and for around a dollar a minute they’ll type your dictation up and have it back to you in 12 hours.
#5. Outsource time-consuming tasks to a “do it for me” service
We’ve all had one of those days at work where multiple case deadlines collide and several filings must be placed all at once — and the court’s deadline is only a couple of hours away. If only there were a way to instantaneously gain the assistance of a team of trained and experienced document specialists to get those filings submitted for you?
Task-specific outsourcing is the answer. One such solution is One Legal’s Email to File service. Simply email your documents as attachments to our team, and they’ll assemble, review, and submit your court filings on your behalf. They’ll even give it a double check for common errors and possible causes of filing rejection before submission. Time saved and peace of mind!