HOW CAN YOU MANAGE TIME?
Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Managing time correctly allows you to work efficiently, not harder. Like this, you get more done in less time, even when time is tight and pressures are high. Failing to manage your time impedes effectiveness and causes stress.
As future lawyers, we essentially sell our time. Although clients come to us because of experience and knowledge, in the end what they receive is time. And time lost is never found again!
If you are able to manage your time, you will improve your life quality. Time management consists in: knowing your obligations, your priorities and schedule them.
There are many benefits we can achieve in the future as lawyers, if we learn how to manage time. These are:
1. Reduce Stress if we control correctly our time we will reduce our stress. No more unexpected surprises, or tight deadlines. Instead we will be able to divide tasks in a successful way.
2. Increase Productivity – if we succeed, we will get more things done. Of course, being productive is one of the main objectives of time management. Given that we know what we have to do in each moment, we manage our workload better. We don´t have to waste time planning what to do when! We will just do what we have planned.
3. Avoid mistakes - managing time efficiently results in less rework and mistakes. How many times have you repeated a work because you forgot to include something? If we allocate time, we will become more focused and organized. Not only that, but things as forgetting appointments or missing deadlines won´t happen anymore.
4. More Free Time –We can´t create more time, we all have the same amount of time in one day. However, managing time correctly by prioritizing can lead to have more free time to spend with family and friends and enjoy life.
5. Reduce Time Wasted – If you have planned your tasks for the day, you waste less time in distractions because you don´t have to think about what to do next.
6. Allows Relaxation in tough moments – Managing time and being ahead of work is always more benefitial. You can relax when everyone else is stressed about the deadline.
7. Improves Your Reputation – Managing time correctly will directly affect your reputation and everyone will want to work with you if possible. This will situate you within the best of your mates and you will end up working with the smarter ones.
8. Less Effort – People think that planning ahead the next day takes up time. However this is wrong. Instead, it makes life easier as you can be given any task and you will accomplish it. It doesn´t matter how long, or how difficult it is, you will make it without any extra effort of deciding if do it now or not…
9. More time on Important things– If you learn how to allocate time, you will dedicate more time to what you consider is more important.
After explaining all the benefits time management provides, we will pass on to explain how YOU can learn to do it. Nowadays, we use a system to score the importance of our tasks based on how much they mean to us. However, get priorities in order its not all. This is because if you ONLY prioritize, you aren´t creating more time, you just borrow time of one activity to spend it on another. Another behavior used frequently to get things done is doing them faster. Efficiency works, however, trying to do things faster causes even more stress and won´t have great results.
You cannot solve todays time management problems with yesterdays time management thinking!!
The emergence of a new type of three-dimensional thinking is the key to manage time effectively. It consists on deciding which task to do, depending on 3 factors:
- URGENCY: how soon does it matter
- IMPORTANCE: how much does it matter
- SIGNIFICANCE: how long does it matter
To make the future better, you have to think what can you do today that will make tomorrow easier? Is called a SIGNIFICANCE calculation and it was developed by Rory Vaden.
By prioritizing, you give yourself the emotional permission to decide which things go first (urgency). However, if you want to manage time accurately and “multiply” it, you shall add the importance and significance part; use the emotional decision to spend time today, on things that will give you more time tomorrow.
If you are wondering how to use time more productively so that you can spend more time with family, check this out!
David Allen developed the five steps that apply order to chaos and help you get the things done.
- CAPTURE –Write your to-do list of works, projects…in your notepad.
- CLARIFY- Take what you´ve captured and ask, can I do it? If no, you shall eliminate it or save it for ideas. If you can and will take less than 2 minutes, just do it. If it´ll take more time, delegate it or put it in your objectives.
- ORGANIZE – Put every task you have to do on different lists according to their categories. Like that, you won´t mix them up or accumulate all lists in a paper, which overwhelms you.
- REFLECT – Analyze the lists every now and then to know which task follows. Once you´ve done it scribble it to be updated and liberalize your mind from finished tasks.
- ENGAGE – Just do it. Believe in yourself and execute the task.
The most important thing for you to realize, is how valuable time is. Objects can be lost or stolen, money can be lost or re-earned however, time vanishes at the moment it passes. If you create a mindset that makes you understand that losing time is losing a very valuable asset, you will adjust to it and be able to control it.
Interruptions as students and future lawyers are what you most get. A recent study states, that you get 7 interruptions per hour, from which only 20% are critical to what you are doing that day (Related to the work). Imagine as lawyers, filling our minds with 1000 things to write, being disrupted (disconnect of what you were thinking) and go back to the particular thing you were working on. To be an efficient lawyer with time, you must avoid having interruptions.
Another useful habit to include into your routine is to plan the day ahead. It can be either on that morning or on the night before but its really useful. Take the example of paying bills. To pay the bills we need to know how much money we have to spend. Well, to do our tasks we also need to know, how much time we have to spend on them. Only when you control time you can capture the day, if not, the day will capture you.
With respect to organization, keeping your area of work clean and organized , is essential to focus. If your area isn´t clean, it can cause 1h30 of distraction per working day of the standard 8lh job. You don´t lose time in distracting yourself only, but in looking for documents. As a future lawyer, you should be prepared to grab documents without delay if a meeting suddenly occurs.
How have people succeeded in time management?
A close friend to mine always left the works until the deadline and struggled in the last hours to complete the tasks. Consequently, she felt very stressed and unhappy, as the final result was never great.
One day, she downloaded an app on Google Play called time full, and she started to develop good-time habits. She became another person,she started to get higher grades, she stopped smoking because she was no longer stressed… Until the day she realized she didn´t need the application anymore because organizing her days ahead had already become a habit.
You chose to be efficient, or you chose to be disorganized.
You chose to focus and concentrate on higher value tasks, or you chose to spend your time on tasks, which contribute you little value.
You chose to stay the same, or you chose to change.
You can be the next one… Its never too late!