SC Lawyer, Sept. 2003, #5. Practice building secrets Learning to manage your time.

AuthorBy Mark Powers

South Carolina Lawyer


SC Lawyer, Sept. 2003, #5.

Practice building secrets Learning to manage your time

South Carolina LawyerSeptember 2003Practice building secrets Learning to manage your timeBy Mark PowersIn today's competitive marketplace, it is no surprise that you are working longer hours for fewer returns. You may find yourself with too many demands on your time, helping everyone else and leaving no time for yourself. The unfortunate result of this trend is high levels of stress and less time to spend with your family, on community interests or on personal health.

This life course is stressful for anyone, but especially for lawyers, who are trained to provide comprehensive, well thought-out work. It is not unusual for many attorneys to wake up one day and have an overwhelming feeling that their lives have careened out of control, and they did not even know it was happening.

For some, the ultimate cost is returning home one day to find their children have grown, left home and that they have missed out on the best years of their lives. For others, it is the daunting reality that they have sacrificed their health for a practice that is no longer as profitable or fulfilling.

Balancing these pressures is difficult, but smart attorneys have made the decision to take control of their practices, their lives and their futures. Effective time-management is the first step in this balancing act.

Taking control of your practice

There are two base time-management categories and we all fit into one or the other. These two categories are reactive and proactive. A reactive time manager works IN his practice. A proactive time manager works ON his practice.

If you have a reactive style:

* You are constantly handling client crises and doing damage control.

* You are overwhelmed by present day circumstances - not looking ahead, or at the competition.

* You are working harder to generate income, but you are not sure if your practice is profitable.

* You are practicing "threshold" law, often working with anyone who crosses the threshold, regardless of profitability or your areas of expertise.

* You have high accounts receivable. You are not sending invoices or collecting in a timely manner.

* You are multi-tasking and it seems like you are doing all the work yourself. You are a $150/hour attorney and you find yourself doing legal, paralegal and clerical work.

* You have high staff burnout and turnover.

As an attorney in reactive mode, you will notice that you are deeply involved in day-to-day client activities, often reacting to crises rather than planning strategically. Sometimes it might feel like you are operating under a survival mentality. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to have a vision for your practice. The sum total equals burnout!

Obviously, good time managers must be proactive. To do this, you must eliminate crisis, prioritize and schedule and manage interruptions.

Creating a crisis-free zone

Become selective. Give your client base a rating from A to D. "A" clients listen to...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT