Part I

Why Productivity is Important for Lawyers

Lawyers are incredibly concerned about productivity. Given that they have a specific number of hours to bill, it is important that they feel productive. These men and women can’t escape the fact that their time must be accounted for.

Ask any attorney, having a productive workday is somewhat euphoric. But, let me say that a busy lawyer is not necessarily a good lawyer. But, a lawyer who has focus and feels accomplished enjoying their practice is usually a productive lawyer.

When I speak with my clients, I emphasize two values that are important to be productive.

A. Focus

Begin with a focal point. Just being busy is not productive. You want to drill down and prioritize two to three major tasks you will concentrate on each day. Next, make a plan outlining the steps to achieve your goal. Write down the steps.

Do this each day. I always advise my clients to write their steps before they leave the office. Preparing for the next day helps you to immediately focus upon arriving at the office. Make sure to put your list in a prominent place so that you see it first thing.

B. Sustainability

You want to establish a cadence and a work ethic that you can maintain. It is not beneficial if you constantly work in spurts. Procrastinating and waiting until the last hour before a deadline is not a sustainable way to run your practice. Do the most difficult tasks early in the day while your mind is fresh.

Remember the tortoise and the hare? It’s the same principle. The tortoise won the race by maintaining his slow and sustainable pace.

Let me tell you what productivity is not:

  1. Working until you are too burned out and can hardly think.
  2. Pouring over documents until you are cross-eyed.
  3. Feeling burned out, cross, and so irritable that you hate everything.
  4. Being angry and putting yourself down for not doing enough.
  5. Pulling out the brass knuckles and beating yourself up about your performance.
  6. Allowing relationships to suffer for the sake of work.
  7. Feeling so behind that, you dread going into work.
  8. Papers are strewn everywhere, and you lose hours looking for paperwork.
  9. Having high anxiety, afraid others will find out how far behind you really are.
  10. Feeling too busy to take a bathroom break.
  11. Working until your shoulders are so tense they have built up that feels like rocks, or your back pain is getting worse as you tensely hunch over your computer.
  12. Productivity is not keeping a to-do list so long that it is impossible to accomplish.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a partner, solo practice, or an associate. — Everyone is looking for hacks and ways to be more productive. But marathon workdays, excessive amounts of caffeine, and long to-do lists won’t help. These habits will never get you closer to reaching your peak productivity.

(To be continued…)



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