Paralegal Time Management Tips if You’re a Procrastinator
Whether you have a billable hour quota to meet or not, time management is a critical paralegal skill to possess. If you’re a procrastinator (like so many of us!) AND you have a billable hour quote, that’s double trouble.
If you’re a procrastinator who puts off that large project until the very last minute, these two QUICK paralegal time management tips will help you get those projects off your desk and give you a feeling of accomplishment when you leave the office tonight.
Start the “Before I Leave Today” Plan
Maybe your goal is to finish a document review project. You estimate it’s going to take approximately 20 hours total. If you’re working in a law firm, that means a big chunk of your billable hours for the week will also be met. Instead of letting it go another day because it’s just too overwhelming to even get started, say to yourself “Before I leave today, I am going to complete the review of at least 100 records.” It doesn’t mean you have to stop at 100. It just means you’re going to do a minimum of that much before you leave.
What does that do to help with procrastination and time management?
It’s a mindset. You get through 100 records and you leave for the day. You can check that off your list. You accomplished it. And it makes you feel better when you leave for work knowing that you accomplished that one task and you’re even closer to finishing that project. Pretty soon, your mind removes that “I’m a procrastinator” label.
Ditch the To-Do List for the Action Items List
Something to keep in mind with To-Do Lists is that To-Do Lists won’t work if they are just partial reminders of stuff we need to do that encompass more than one task in order to check it off the list. Here’s an example:
TO-DO LIST FOR TOMORROW
1. Smith case
2. Depo prep Axelrod case
3. Trial Exhibit List – Dorsey
Instead, think of those things as projects that require more than one action to complete. With that mindset, you know that you’re never going to be able to check them off your list until the entire project is done. Instead, make an Action Items List associated with all of those projects as these things come to your mind each day.
Replacing your To-Do List with an ACTION ITEMS LIST might look like this:
1. Call Smith client re: draft interrogatory responses
2. Review client documents to get other answers to interrogatory questions
3. Review production files for Sam’s depo in Alexrod Case
4. Review other depo transcripts for mention of Sam in other’s testimony
5. Run report in Summation for key docs to include in trial exhibit list
6. Run depo exhibit report for starting draft of trial exhibit list
Then at the end of the day, when you’ve completed 4 of those action items (and it increased your billable hours for the day!), you can remove them from the list (or check them off the list if you’re the type who likes to see lots of checkmarks) and get that feeling of accomplishment.
If you want some more tips on organization, check out our article on Organization Tips for Paralegals.
If you’d like to look at other ways to manage your time, check out our 60-minute course on paralegal productivity: Get a Better Work/Life Balance.
Here’s to your most productive year yet!
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.