Tips for Junior Lawyers on Task Management

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Information about Tips for Junior Lawyers on Task Management
Business & Mgmt

Published on February 24, 2014

Author: sarahjvfox



Some tips to help you manage your time more efficiently. Based on the time matrix covered by different business advisers and adapted specifically for junior lawyers.

Developed by Sarah Fox, solicitor and legal trainer

Cutting Through the Complexities of Construction Law Sarah’s Tips on TASK MANAGEMENT Sarah Fox, 2014

Task Management Some tips to help you manage your time more efficiently Tasks can be split into four different categories depending on their relative urgency and importance, which Enjoy has named after the effect they have on your time:1 Urgent but unimportant TIME STEALERS Resist Urgent and important FOCUS SHIFTERS Do Tip: develop processes to resist these and resolve them earlier; explain your approach to others Tip: learn to prioritise within this category by asking probing questions of the task’s originator EG: interruptions, misunderstandings, trivial or irrelevant requests, email circulars EG: client or project emergencies, staff issues, adjudications and legal proceedings Neither urgent nor important TIME WASTERS Reject Important but not urgent FOCUS BOOSTERS Schedule Tip: learn to spot them and swap with focus shifters or focus boosters Tip: plan time for these as they are critical to business & personal success EG: net surfing, chatting to colleagues, reading unrelated journals, reading irrelevant minutes or emails copied to you EG: research, thinking, strategic planning, advising, preparing user guides, focused meetings In order to lighten the load for your client (L from the BUILD™ process), you, and your client team, needs to spend most of its time on tasks from the ‘focus boosters’ box. More Information Time wasters need to be avoided. Many of these are within your control and so it is up to you to reject them and stop spending your working hours on these tasks. If a task has a ‘why am I doing it?’ element, then consider whether you should be spending time on it at all. Quick win: spot them and swap them for focus booster tasks. Time stealers should be resisted. This requires teams to set good habits and systems to ensure they are efficient but not unfriendly. Sometimes these are tasks which appeared easy but prove not to be – at this point it is wise to ask for help and assistance. These tasks are unfulfilling because you are not achieving anything important. Quick wins: do them after focus boosters; set a time limit for tasks to ensure they don’t overwhelm more important activities. Page 2 © Enjoy Legal Learning, 2014

Focus shifters are driven by time pressures. They are more complex to control and manage. Completing these tasks creates a buzz and positive outcomes, although they shift your focus and steal time from other tasks. They may be accompanied by external pressures which can create stress.2 The very urgency of these tasks can lead to mistakes as deadlines loom. If you are spending too much time of focus shifters you are fire-fighting. More often than not time spent here is as a result of poor time management. Quick wins: do tasks before they become urgent. Focus boosters are critical to success. These tasks are ones to concentrate your time and efforts on. This is where most effective professionals spend their time. However, to do so takes time, effort and teamwork. Quick wins: schedule uninterrupted periods into your diary to do these sort of tasks, at least weekly. Summary “Getting everything done is not always a sign of good time management; it can also be a sign of not having enough to do.”3 The Author Sarah Fox of Enjoy Legal Learning developed this guide. She is a professional speaker, innovator and trainer who cuts through the complexities of construction law. She provides confidence to those who use construction contracts through workshops that clarify and simplify the law. She is also author of the 500 Word Contract™. To find out how Enjoy can transform your technical training, contact Sarah on her mobile: 07767 342747 or by email: 1 2 3 See e.g. the business balls time matrix upon which the above table is based. One definition of stress is a level of pressure (internal or external) with which we find difficulty coping. Susan Billbess, writer - Nov 2008, at Page 3 © Enjoy Legal Learning, 2014

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