Planning Your Time

Proper time management is essential to both your bottom line and providing quality client service. You will be well served to come up with a time management plan that accounts for daily, weekly, monthly, and annual practices. Being proactive, rather than reactionary, will make you more productive.

 

Dedicating Time to Accomplish Tasks

A critical part of practice management is setting aside dedicated time to deal with important and/or essential tasks such as:

  • planning the day, week, etc.;
  • dealing with correspondence;
  • evaluating and prioritizing work;
  • docketing time;
  • marketing and developing your practice;
  • meeting with clients;
  • performing legal work;
  • ensuring compliance with legislative and regulatory matters such as accounting records, tax, etc.; and
  • setting aside time for continuing professional development and networking.

If you don’t establish protocols for dealing with these, and other important matters, you are more likely to focus too heavily in certain areas at the expense of others. One way to make your use of time more effective is to minimize interruptions. Carving out blocks of time to deal with matters increases the chance you will complete them (or elements of them) before moving on to something else.

One of the advantages of establishing protocols for time management, and following them, is that it gives you a model to review in order to objectively assess how effectively you are managing your practice. You may discover you are spending too much time on one area at the expense of another. By tracking your time (including billable and non-billable time) you can draw conclusions about how to better structure your practice.

Some steps you can take include making use of “to do” lists and trying to stick to the maxim of handling each piece of paper or correspondence only once. Also, use diaries or calendars to plan out your day/week/month/year, and to remind you of important matters such as court or tribunal dates, limitations periods, insurance, and tax deadlines, etc. As with other office systems, ensure that entries are doubled-up in the diary/calendar of your assistant/assistant as well as in your own diary/calendar.