An extra two to three billable hours a day! I can hear you shouting, “Yes! Of course!” What’s great about this, there is nothing magic about it. You have the power to do it.
If your faucet were leaking — Drip. Drip. Drip — you would find a way to seal that leak, right? First of all, that sound is annoying. Can you hear it pinging? You’d want to fix that leak just so you don’t go crazy from the noise. Secondly, water is being wasted and you are paying for it. For every drop of water that falls, you are paying whether you are using it or not. You don’t like to waste water and you surely don’t like to waste your money.
Now let me ask you: How long would you take before you acted on fixing that water leak? A minute? A day? Until the water overflowed the sink? Until the water was so deep, you needed a row boat to move through your home? My instinct tells me you would act rather quickly because you realize the value of acting quickly and appropriately. By acting quickly, you save water—a precious resource, you save the cost of the water, and you save your sanity so you are not going crazy with the sound of the pinging or with stress knowing the repercussions of letting the leak get out of control. You would invest in hiring a plumber to fix the leak to ensure it was fixed and sealed properly. Good for you, you made the right decision.
But, do you know that you have leaks right now? Leaks that are constantly leaking and costing you. Drip. Drip. Drip. In fact, you have so many leaks your office is filled with five gallon buckets capturing those leaks. Catching your time leaks. Time that was mismanaged. Gone. Every minute that is wasted is lost forever. Thousands of your dollars down the drain.
Like water, Time is a precious resource. You mismanage your time, you are not only losing future opportunities, you are losing and wasting money.
Think about some of these key areas where my clients used to have major time leaks but now they are sealed. See how you can seal these time leaks.
- Managing paper – Do you have a good paper filing system? Can you find your paper within seconds? Do you have a process for handling in-coming paper or that which you created? Do you have a process for purging paper? Brother, Inc. did a study not too long ago that showed the average person wastes nine minutes a day looking for paper. Do you know what nine minutes a day at $300 an hour adds up to over the course of a year? That drip, drip, drip. It adds up to over $11,000 a year. For that one drop. And my guess is that for lawyers, the nine minutes is understated.
- Emails – How many emails do you get a day? Too many? Do you have an effective process with managing emails? Yes, there is a process to sort, manage and reply to emails. Do you have a filing system for emails?
- Interruptions and Distractions – Do you even know what interruptions and distractions you are facing? The only way we can change something, our behavior and actions is first to be aware of them. We are faced we so many interruptions and distractions throughout the day, we accept them at face value without any thought that we can do something else.
- Delegation – Are you delegating? Are you delegating effectively? Are you afraid to delegate? Do you say to yourself, “I can’t afford to delegate?”
- Repetitive Work – Are you reinventing the wheel each time? Do you know where you can create templates and scripts?
So, how do you add two to three hours of billable time? Remember I told you at the beginning there was no magic to it. That you had the power. And you do. The question is: Are you ready to seal your time leaks? Do you know how to seal your time leaks? Realize too, that the time leaks are costing you in more ways than one. By not managing your time, you are prone to more stress. When you’re stressed, you don’t function as effectively. Your productivity decreases. Then you get further behind. Your productivity decreases ever further. You work longer hours to make up for your lost time. Now you are working longer non-billable hours. You are going the wrong way on this path!
All successful lawyers I know understand, apply and constantly learn how to develop better time management techniques. You have the time in your day to add two to three more billable hours. The key is sealing your time leaks and realigning your time to more productive and effective actions. If you don’t know how to seal these costly time leaks, you better find a plumber soon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rosie Aiello is the founder of ClearVista Consulting, specializing in productivity and organizing, and helping entrepreneurs, attorneys and other busy professionals. Her clients improve their time management skills, are more productive, have higher profits and less stress following the systems that Rosie has developed. She is part of the expert team who co-authored the book Entrepreneur Extraordinaire, which offers best practices and solutions, innovative marketing ideas and inspiration! She is also author of the e-book, The One Minute Productivity Tip—A Year of Productivity. (Twitter: @RosieClearVista)