Does this scenario sound familiar?
You get to work an hour early just so you can finally finish your client's contract that is due at the end of the day. As you feverishly work on the contract, you get interrupted several times: your co-worker needs your signature on a document, your assistant is in and out of your office reminding you that your other client needs you to return a phone call, your cell phone is dinging with several text messages that you can't seem to ignore, you forgot that you need to call your dad because it's his birthday. Before you know it, it's the end of the day and you have not finished that contract.
Where does the time go? Lawyers are often plagued with this type of scenario, and they must learn how to use their time wisely.
Take this self-analysis to determine the areas on which you need to focus.
SELF-ANALYSIS 1: TIME USE QUESTIONNAIRE
A. Quantity: In an average week I put in ____ hours at work.
B. Quality: Rate yourself on a scale from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) on these time use principles:
1. I change my self-critical or negative attitudes into positive attitudes.
2. I use most of my time working on what counts.
3. I spend the appropriate amount of time planning, organizing and managing others.
4. I know where my time goes.
5. I seldom do what subordinates or secretaries can do.
6. I balance my work life and my personal life.
7. I have and pursue written long range and yearly goals.
8. I balance long range pursuits and daily urgencies.
9. I plan my day.
10. I make sure my top priorities get done every day.
11. I have a task management system to keep track of my work, and I use it well.
12. I control phone, texting, email and walk-in interruptions.
13. I regularly set aside time when I'm unavailable to others.
14. I make sure I have adequate communication with co-workers and clients.
15. I am on the phone only when I need to be and handle calls efficiently.
16. I handle unpleasant tasks immediately and don't procrastinate.
17. I organize my workspace.
18. I make a decision with each email/text I see or piece of paper I touch.
19. The meetings I conduct and attend are productive.
20. I allow myself time to be creative, to get perspective, to relax.
If you rated yourself with a 4 or below on any of these statements, you should consider brushing up on your time management skills. Review each statement and focus on how you can improve. For example, if you rated yourself low in "I know where my time goes," take time to create a log of your daily tasks so that you can analyze your time and find ways to manage your day. Maybe you found that you are spending an hour a day responding to text messages. Take an inventory and ask yourself if your response can wait until after work. Perhaps you don't seem to have enough time available on your calendar. Make it a point to block off at least an hour a day on your calendar so that you can dedicate that time to the most pressing task you need to complete.
For more information on time management, see the ebook
Time Mastery for Lawyers