All in a Day’s Work

By Cheryl J. Leone, Law Firm Coach

Many of our clients, in fact the majority of our clients, are swallowed up in attempting to do the impossible by completing all things pressing in one day.  Each day gets a bit worse.   The ability of a lawyer (or even his staff) to manage his or her work, is directly related to the success of the lawyer in whatever endeavors he or she wants out of life.  The person who is like the gerbil on a wheel looks good but never gets anywhere. So how do you get more done at work?

We set up a very simplistic way to manage work that seems impossible to accomplish and it seems to work.   Here’s our advice:

Before you go home write down everything you think you have to accomplish the next day.  Do not wait until the next morning.  We suggest a quiet time in the office just before leaving, a yellow pad, and an honest pencil.  Don’t try to organize your desk or review documents, simply write out a list.

Follow the ABC’s of delegation.  Each task will be rated A, B, or C.  A is non-negotiable.  Basically the world will stop as you know it if it isn’t done.  B is something that is pressing but another day won’t matter.  C is of no consequence.   If you have more than 3 to 4 A’s on your list you or your job is ineffective.  Worst you are trying to do it all yourself.

Once you have the ABC’s done, simply look at each item and make this decision BEFORE you go home.

Delegate it!   Can I give this to someone else? Do I really have to do it?  People around you will only grow when they are given an opportunity to do so.  Withholding work because it won’t get done right is a cop out.   Don’t worry about if they can do it.  Give it to the person and let them come to you if they can’t.  Leaders grow leaders by the way.

Dump it!  My theory is that over 50% of your work is busy work that makes you feel good.  Ask yourself honestly if the task at hand will cause your world to cease as you know it.   Throw it in trash can.  Take it off your list.  Here’s a hint:  All those magazines you intend to read, throw them away.  If you can’t read day it comes in toss it.

Do it!  That which is left is what you will do the next day.

At the end of the day your out basket should be full for things others can do, and your in basket empty.  The Do basket should be small.

There is great emphasis today in decluttering your personal life.   I believe you need to take the same approach to decluttering your work life.   In the practice of law, few things are absolute.   We tend to do what we enjoy. We tend to let pile up that which we don’t.  There becomes a spring in your step when the weight of irrelevant matters are taken from your shoulder.

About the Authors

Principals Dave Favor and Cheryl Leone are the founders of Catalyst Group, Inc. with its corporate offices in Raleigh, North Carolina. Rounding out the Coaches is Attorney Carl Solomon of Columbia, South Carolina. They share a common value and belief system that everyone deserves a chance to work for themselves and do it in such a way that it is profitable, enjoyable and respected by others. For more information email our Head Coach.

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