Is a Better Work/Life Balance Possible for Paralegals?
I have become somewhat obsessed with increasing my own productivity over the last 8+ years that I’ve been in business for myself. It got me thinking, I wish I had known about some of these things back when I was a paralegal. Back then I was an employee who thought “as long as I meet my billable hour goal for the year, what’s it matter if I bill 1,900 hours or 2,100 hours?!” One means I can go home at a decent time tonight.
If you want a better work/life balance, it is important to consider your daily productivity level. Here’s why:
Paralegal A and Paralegal B have a 1,600 billable-hour quota to meet. If you’re working in a corporate legal department think of it as “I have 1,600 hours’ worth of work to get done each year. And regardless of whether or not I bill someone for that work, it is work that I still have to get done.”
Paralegal A, working at 90% productivity, will meet that 1,600 billable-hour quota in 1,780 work hours.
Paralegal B, working at 75% productivity, will meet that 1,600 billable-hour quota in 2,135 work hours.
That means that Paralegal B is working 355 more hours per year to do the same amount of work as Paralegal A. Because let’s face it – regardless of meeting the billable hour quota, you still have to get the work done. Especially when you’re working under such strict deadlines.
Remember, it’s not about working more hours just to bill more hours. This is about increasing paralegal productivity to get back some of those hours in your life!
If you could increase your productivity from 75% to 90%, what could you do with an extra 355 hours per year?
- Attend your kids’ sports games
- Join a tennis league
- Read a new book every week
- Get more sleep
- Just relax
- Leave the office every day before dark!
If you want to get some of those hours back, start by tracking what your daily productivity number is. Once you start tracking your daily number, you will be more inclined to do better the next day. It’s just like when we’re on a diet or a workout plan – when we’re tracking something we’re more likely to strive to do better each day. That’s why Fit Bit and all those tracking devices are so popular.
It’s a simple calculation: Hours Billed/Hours Worked. For example, if you worked 8 hours yesterday and entered 7 hours into the billing system: 7/8 = 87.5% productivity.
Wishing you a super productive day!
April 2020 Update: Did you miss our free Virtual Paralegal Summit? You can still get the recordings here. In it, we deliver an email to your inbox each day with tips on productivity, the new normal of working from home and other tips.
About the Author
Ann Pearson is the Founder of the Paralegal Boot Camp, specializing in training for paralegals that focuses on the important paralegal skills not taught in certificate programs.
Ann started her paralegal career as a litigation paralegal and then was a manager of paralegals for many years prior to starting her own company in 2010. When she’s not working, you can usually find her somewhere near an ocean – either scuba diving, boating, cleaning up a beach, or volunteering to help save sea turtles.