What is the true value of your time?
It’s a question many law firm owners don’t consider very often.
Now, there’s the obvious answer of how much you charge per hour. For personal injury attorneys, the question may be a bit more layered, as many of you operate on a contingency fee.
Still, at the most basic level, you can calculate your hourly rate using this formula:
ANNUAL SALARY ÷ [(HOURS/WEEK) X (WEEKS/YEAR)] = $____/hr
Your answer may or may not surprise you. But what you should really take time to reflect on is how much of that time is squandered on tasks or activities that don’t allow you to maximize your strengths.
Put another way, how much potential profit are you losing every year by wasting hours or days on tasks that don’t allow you to grow your law firm?
When you analyze the situation through that lens, the true value of your time may become more apparent.
I spend a lot of time as a business owner trying to identify ways to streamline my business so that I can continue to refocus my efforts on achieving critical results. That means I’ve found ways to reduce or totally eliminate the time I once spent on mundane tasks like paperwork, emails, client follow up, billing, etc.
Here are some of the strategies I’d recommend implementing in your law firm to free up more of your own time, which allows you to have more time to either focus on your business or spend as you wish:
Many of us, myself included, make the mistake of trying to accomplish a full to do list. The thought of crossing 10 tasks off our checklist is much more gratifying than just crossing off one.
However, prioritization requires us to multiply by simplifying. By focusing only on a small number of critical results per day, you will ultimately accomplish more. Rather than scheduling in ten smaller tasks, start each day by planning to accomplish three major initiatives or critical results.
While you may end the day with a half-full to do list, you will ultimately be more satisfied with your results because you’ve contributed to larger initiatives.
Here are a handful of strategies to better prioritize your task list:
- Audit the hours you spend every week on tasks that can be delegated to others and put solutions in place to get that time back
- Practice time blocking by scheduling your day the night prior and blocking off sections of your calendar to complete each item on your to do list
- Practice the “Top 3” system of prioritization by making a list of the top 3 critical results you hope to accomplish the next day and hold yourself accountable for achieving them
- Use the Pomodoro Technique of time blocking by working in 25-minute sprints followed by 5-minute breaks
Other proven methods of prioritization include aggressively protecting your own time. By that I mean, don’t take unscheduled calls or meetings and build in buffer time in your schedule to deal with unforeseen tasks or action items. The minute you start being lenient about your schedule is the minute your to-do list goes out the window.
Worried about missing an important client call? Always make sure there’s at least one channel through which your clients can get ahold of you with an urgent matter; i.e., channel messages through your secretary or paralegal, or have another team member have the ability to reach you if necessary.
Delegation is the key to maximizing productivity. Don’t wait to delegate – if anyone else can do it, delegate it. You should learn to delegate strategically to maximize your own productivity and refocus your efforts on activities that are the highest, best use of your time.
Delegation commonly involves you shifting tasks off of your plate onto one of your team members, but this may require hiring additional employees. Whether it’s a full time, part-time, or virtual employee, you can expand your law firm’s bandwidth and rid yourself of common tasks and processes such as billing, bookkeeping, transcription, research, etc.
Effective delegation requires three things:
- Who is doing it?
- What is being done?
- When is it due?
Appointing accountability and setting a deadline for action items increases the chances of goals being hit by 95%.
How many times have you completed a task because no one else in your law firm knew how to do it? Or because it was faster for you to do it yourself?
Systemization is a prime opportunity for you to put the systems and processes in place to streamline your law firm and ensure you’re not stuck doing tasks that someone else in your firm is fully capable of completing.
Systems support processes which support people. You have to have all three in place to manage a successful law firm. Each of these components require maintenance, but when maintained, allow for expanded capacity and greater overall growth.
Here are a few key opportunities to systemize your law firm by updating your existing platforms or automating manual tasks:
- Systemize your client intake by onboarding a legal intake platform like Captorra
- Systemize your case management by switching to a cloud-based case management platform such as Filevine
- Systemize your document/file management by switching to a cloud-based file sharing platform like Dropbox
Systemizing your law firm will improve the quality and consistency of your client experience, make your practice more scalable, and prevent things from slipping through the cracks.
Have you ever wondered how much time you waste every week on tasks that can be entirely automated? It’s almost shocking what technology is capable of these days, which means there are more than likely a multitude of ways in which you can automate tasks you’re currently doing manually.
Before you complete a task, start by asking yourself:
- Can I automate this to a system?
- Can I delegate this to a person?
- Do I do it myself?
There are a handful of automation tools I swear by as a business owner, but here is just a sampling:
- Acuity Scheduling: This app allows clients and prospects to self-book appointments on your calendar and sends automatic calendar reminders
- Zapier: This app connects to more than 1,000 web apps to send information between applications (i.e. every time someone submits a contact form on your website, it will zap over information to create a new contact record in your CRM)
- Drift: This live chat platform offers a hybrid of live chat and chatbots so that you can determine how to best meet your site visitors’ needs
You should also look into onboarding your law firm onto an email marketing platform, which allows you to nurture leads and clients, as well as a case management platform and eSignature platform.
All of these automated tools allow you to buy back your own time so you can refocus your efforts on executing on big initiatives within your law firm. You only have 24 hours in a day – so you need to be strategic about how you spend those hours if you want to want to grow your law firm.
Want to learn more? Download our free 7 Step Guide to Maximum Productivity here!