Now that you are seizing the year and starting or continuing your legal education, you might find yourself in need of a little extra time. Have no fear! We have some tips for you to find those precious extra minutes.
1. Rise and Shine! Get up earlier in the morning to maximize your day. It does not have to be hours earlier, but a good 30 minutes to an hour will do wonders for your schedule. That is enough time to get in your workout in the morning, to shower and get ready for work early, or to do an online homework assignment before anyone else in your house is up. The morning is the perfect time to find more time because fewer people are awake so there are less distractions. On the flip side, if you absolutely cannot and will not get up an extra 30 mins early, consider staying up an extra 30 minutes and preparing for the following day – set out your clothes, pack your lunch, set the table for breakfast etc – so things are ready to go!
2. Get to Work Early. As with waking up early, getting to work early will provide you with time that is free from distractions. Plus, you will miss the morning traffic if you head in early AND if you are in earl enough you just might get off early too, meaning you miss the evening traffic as well. This could save you hours of time depending on how bad your commute is.
3. Prioritize Your Work. First establish the number one thing that needs to be done in your day and do that as soon as you get to the office so that it is out of the way and you are not wasting precious energy reminding yourself to do it; this task will change day to day, but it important to always know your number one task. Then determine exactly what you MUST do each day so that you don’t lose your job – these are the basic functions you need to perform each and every day; do these right after you tackle your number one priority for the day. Next figure out what you SHOULD do each day – things like returning phone calls and urgent emails; do these right after you finish your must-dos. Everything beyond this category is either long-term or extraneous. If you categorize tasks and focus in on each category, you will find yourself accomplishing things faster and freeing up some of your time.
4. Tone Down Technology. This is a hard one I know, but it is a huge timesaver if you can stick with it. By disconnecting from technology, we can enhance our focus on tasks that need to be completed. Turn your cell phone on silent and schedule to check it once an hour, or better yet, once every couple of hours! If you cannot go the whole day with your phone on silent, or off, consider blocking out a couple of hours of no phone time, say from 9am until noon. If email constantly bombards you, turn off the automatic checking feature, and just refresh your inbox every couple of hours. Take care of the urgent messages and leave the rest for a designated period of the day when you can sit down and answer them all at once instead of constantly being interrupted.
5. Put it on Autopilot. Are there things you find yourself doing every month that seems to soak up an unnecessary amount of time? Automate as many things as possible. For instance, pay your bills online – instead of sitting at the table searching through envelops and writing checks all you have to do is click the mouse once or twice. Having to water your lawn twice a week? Install a timer on your sprinkler system. Think of all the things you can have technology do for you and then set it up – it will be a small time investment upfront for a big payoff in the future.
6. Brown Bag It. Bringing your lunch can save a ton of time because it means no leaving the office and no waiting in lines (except maybe for the microwave). You can use the extra time you have at lunch to take care of some of your personal business (paying bills, making phone calls or returning emails, doing school work etc) or you can get ahead on some of your work projects so that you have time at the end of the day. Bringing your lunch could save your half an hour or more … not to mention it will ssave you money as well.
7. Run Errands Efficiently. If you find yourself having to run errands all week long, consider condensing them into one day and planning out the most efficient route. Not only will condensing your errands save you time, but it will also save you energy and money on gas. If you get really good at this you might even to be able to do all your errands with the time you save by brown bagging it!
8. Make an Appointment. Schedule an appointment right after your workday is supposed to end. This will accomplish 2 things: (1) it will ensure that you leave the office on time, freeing up your evening for your personal use – taking online classes, gym time, social life etc. and (2) it will make you more productive at the end of the day because you will make sure to finish your tasks on time so that you can leave to make your appointment.
9. Teach and Delegate. Finding yourself correcting someone else’s errors all the time, like maybe your intern consistently confuses their, there, and they’re or your kids always ? Spend a few minutes teaching them how to do it right so you don’t have to correct it in the future. On the flip side, if someone at your office or at home is capable of handling a task (say your secretary doing your filing or the kids clearing the table) then delegate the task to them so it is off your plate.
10. Minimize Media Time. Turn off the TV, step away from the social media sites, and put down those magazines. By doing one of these 3 things you can easily find and extra 30 minutes to an hour in your day. You don’t really need to watch that episode of Friends for the millionth time anyway …