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Legal24 November, 2017

Time management tips: why lawyers should do away with multitasking

If you’re like most lawyers, you’re short of time, most of the time. With multiple cases to manage and clients to serve, the natural inclination is to multi-task - jumping from one case to another, or from one document to another. However, multitasking can have a negative impact on your productivity and can even increase your risk of malpractice.

Many lawyers commend themselves of their ability to tackle multiple tasks at once, but studies show that multitasking is counterproductive. On average, multitaskers experience a 40% drop in productivity, take 50% longer to accomplish a single task, and makeup to 50% more errors. When time is money, lawyers simply can't afford to spend more time than necessary to complete tasks.

Furthermore, research has shown that constantly switching from one task to another, limits our ability to filter out irrelevant information and use our working memory, which clouds judgement, increases frustration and causes stress levels to rise. This type of disorganisation can result in not completing client work on time or failure to communicate case status to clients, leaving you open to a malpractice suit.

Stop multitasking with better scheduling

To overcome the overwhelming temptation to multitask in today’s digital world, lawyers need to make an effort to schedule uninterrupted time to focus on single tasks, one at a time. Nothing breaks your concentration on a case like stopping to answer the phone, reply an email, or to discuss another case with a colleague. Use blocks of uninterrupted time to be your most productive and attend to distractions during a less productive time of day.

For example, schedule certain hours of the day for returning phone calls or for appointments, while keeping the rest of the time to work. Here are some additional tips to schedule uninterrupted time into your daily schedule:

  • Schedule interrupted time – a time where colleagues know you are free to discuss cases
  • Fight the tendency to find distractions by taking short breaks to restore energy and concentration
  • Include a sensible quitting time in your schedule to help you stay on track during the day

With better scheduling, you can avoid the temptation to multitask and reap the benefits of increased productivity and more efficient case management.

Improving your time management skills

You have a relentless flow of documents to read and file, deadlines to keep track of, phone calls to make and other non-urgent tasks that demand your attention. With an overwhelming caseload, tasks pile on top of each other, and without a clear system to prioritise them, you’re spending more time than you really should, to complete them.

Luckily, you can learn better time management skills to manage your cases, while increasing productivity, profitability and client satisfaction. Get a copy of our whitepaper "Time Management for Lawyers in Thriving Law Firms" and learn how using technology can help you better manage your time so that you can meet your goals of increased productivity, profitability and client satisfaction.

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