Managing time when time is short, the phone is ringing, and your desk is piled up`

One of the worst problems for busy attorneys is managing their time. It seems that with each day we struggle with emails that never stop, motions that seem to keep coming, phones that ring in the middle of writing that memo or brief that is due tomorrow, and faxes that demand our attention. And somewhere out there is a spouse or significant other who expects to get home on time too. So, how to juggle?

First, each morning you must tackle - and get done - the one thing that is most important to get done that day. With the most important (and often most difficult) task out of the way, the day will only get easier.

Second, block a dedicated time out for your work. And make it the same time frame each day. It doesn’t matter if it first thing in the morning, at the end of the day, or somewhere in between. Block it out and don’t let anything interrupt it. You can’t work efficiently and stay on track to getting a task done if you are constantly being taken off track by every interruption that comes along. It will destroy your concentration, your peace of mind, and ultimately your entire day, if you allow yourself to run from one fire to the next. You are a lawyer, not a fireman.

Third, there are times when you just have to ignore the phone. So ignore it. Let it ring and go to voice mail. You can always pick it up when you get done doing the task that is in front of you. Of course, you can’t ignore it all of the time. Ignore it only when you have to in order to get a task in front of you over and done with. Dealing with telephone interruptions is a balancing act of attending to the business in front of you and attending to the business trying to interrupt you. There is a time and place for the interruption but you should set the time and place. Don’t allow the phone to do it for you. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.

And the last thing you should do everyday? Pick the one thing that you absolutely must get done tomorrow. Then pull that file and put it in the middle of your desk so that when you come in the next day, you start right on it and get it done. Of course, you should be prioritizing your work constantly anyway, but at the end of the day you should make the decision on what is the most important thing you need to get done the next day and set it out so that when you come in, there is no thinking, no debating, no effort needed. You can just start right on it and get it done.

More tips are coming in the future, but this will get you on the right track to successfully managing the workload.
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