Professionals in every industry can and do fall into habits that eventually cause time management put a drag on workplace efficiency. For legal professionals whose lives are ruled by deadlines, it can be hard to break out of time-wasting ruts.
Here are some of the sneakiest ways you can lose time as a paralegal, and strategies for reducing those activities.
#1: Email tag
Ever get into an email cycle with a colleague or client where the back and forth takes longer to conduct than any issue warrants? As soon as you’ve sent that second round of emails, you’ll find yourself slipping into the territory of wasted time.
If it’s a matter that should be discussed beyond a simple confirmation, then nip the email chain in the bud and pick up the phone. It’s a chance to connect with your colleague or client, to gain more clarification than is possible via email, and save time!
#2: Surfing social media
Law firms and professionals alike need to use social media to have a profile where people can learn about their services, to build a network with other professionals, and to communicate with other attorneys and legal professionals.
But all of that potential for development also equals time that can be easily wasted. Avoid scrolling past the point of usefulness and losing track of time in the sea of memes and updates. Log on to check the profile for the law firm, respond to legal messages, or connect with a potential client, but save other social media exploration for the off hours.
#3: Cutting deadlines too close
The biggest malpractice track is simply missing deadlines. The American Bar Association has found that many legal professionals are simply victims of procrastination. Attorneys and paralegals, even legal secretaries, all procrastinate and in so doing risk missing deadlines and losing cases.
We’ve discussed deadlines before, so try out the tips for meeting filing deadlines (and any deadline) every time.
#4: Not using online court filing options
As a legal professional, properly filing documents is one of the biggest tasks you have to tackle. The time constraints are non-negotiable and making sure everything is properly formatted takes up a big chunk of the day.
Beyond the document creation, getting your filing to the court can also be a time suck, especially if your court has yet to implement electronic court filing.
With online filing providers such as One Legal, you upload your document from the comfort of your office, and we submit them to the court for you, electronically where allowed, in hard copy where required.
#5: Thinking busy is a good thing
It is an American custom to believe that being too busy, being overbooked is a positive quality. We often equate success with the inability to even remember what you had for breakfast because you are too busy running around in circles trying to do 12 tasks in the time typically allotted to only five tasks.
But realistically you do not get an award for being too busy or for having the biggest caseload. Being busy is not the same thing as being productive. Instead of being proud of busyness, focus on being productive and getting things done right the first time. The more time you take to prioritize your workload and avoid being too busy just for the sake of being too busy, the happier and healthier you will be long-term.
#6: Putting off clients
Legal clients might call you multiple times per day, either for updates on how things or progressing or to ask all the questions. It’s easy to become tempted to procrastinate on getting back to them or to keep contact too short in an effort to get back to your to-do list.
Client communication is a key part of any legal professional’s job, so consider some of these client interaction strategies to maximize your time while keeping everyone happy.
And, of course, the most obvious and persistent thing to blame for time loss: disorganization. Maybe this means you need 10 minutes just to find the file you need next, or maybe you have an overarching issue with scheduling, and your appointments and deadlines become casualties. If you can’t organize your work life (not to mention your personal life) productivity is likely to suffer.
Thank goodness there’s an entire blog category devoted to organization and productivity.
What issues do you see taking up the most of your time for naught? Share your top time-wasting items—and the strategies you use to tackle them.