Improve Efficiency at Your Law Office
Of all the challenges solo and small-firm lawyers face, time management just might be the most difficult to handle.
To give your practice the best chance of success, you must be efficient to achieve maximum productivity.
Email is top of the list because it will consume your entire day if you let it. Good news – there are a few practical tools to make sure it doesn’t.
- Filters. Email filters can automatically sort incoming emails into predetermined folders. This declutters your inbox and helps ensure nothing is overlooked. For example, client emails immediately go to a priority inbox where you see them right away, while notices about bills go to another folder that you deal with once a week.
- Prewritten responses. Typing the same email over and over is monotonous and time-consuming. Instead, use Quick Parts in Outlook to drop in a block of text with one click. You can build as many blocks of text as you need.
- Unsubscribe. If you tallied it up, you’d be amazed how much time you spend opening then deleting every solicitation email. You can unsubscribe individually on each email or use something like Unroll.me, which compiles all your email subscription lists and allows you to unsubscribe all at once from any you don’t need. It also condenses those you do want into one skimmable daily email.
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
The right practice management software can make all the difference. It helps you stay on top of details to reduce the likelihood of mistakes, and many can help prevent client complaints by automatically keeping them in the loop.
There are many platforms out there so do your research to find one that works best for you and your needs. Many require a time investment up front and some tweaking along the way, so don’t get frustrated and give up. Your practice will thank you for it! At OAMIC, we believe in them so much that we partnered with Clio to provide our insureds a 10% discount on their software.
“When are you free?” back and forth is one of the most frustrating and least efficient processes ever. Instead, send them a link. There are several tools that let you do this – Calendly and Doodle are two. People can add themselves on your calendar directly, picking from dates and times you set. Plus, these tools integrate directly with many calendar systems like Google or Outlook.
Big swings in your firm’s workload are difficult and expensive to manage. Peak times can stretch internal resources over the limit, while slow periods leave staff underutilized.
OAMIC has partnered with SpeakWrite to assist in tackling this particular problem. Submit your transcription and have their team deliver it to your inbox, typically in about 3 hours. You can dictate by phone, app, digital dictation device or SpeakWrite’s software. Our insureds receive a 7% discount for the life of your account.
BATCH & AUTOMATE TASKS
Batching means doing similar tasks in one sitting instead of spreading them out. For example, creating one month of social media posts at one time instead of creating them daily.
Automating is a series of “if this, then that” triggers that either happen automatically with the use of software or manually based on a set of rules you implement. A hybrid of the automatic software/manual example would be if someone requests a meeting, you’d use your Quick Part block with a link to your availability to let them set what time works best and they’d automatically be added to your calendar.
ORGANIZE & PRIORITIZE
It can’t be an article about efficiency without mentioning the two most important tips: Stay organized and prioritize tasks.
Organization is as simple as not dropping everything into one big pile expecting to deal with it later. Taking the extra few seconds to file something properly means no hunting for it for several minutes (or more) later. Also, avoid making things more complicated than they need to be. Have a simple filing system that’s easy to access – don’t make it harder on yourself by keeping an accent chair in front of your file cabinet.
Prioritizing, however, can sound simple – do important stuff first – but it really is a bit more nuanced and often involves more than just your work priorities. Do your best to get to the office on time, but to also leave on time. This ensures you work during work hours and not during after-hours. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance does wonders for everyday efficiency.