6 Productivity Hacks to Bring You More Billable Hours
In a 2016 survey of the top 100 law firms in the UK, it was revealed that junior lawyers were struggling to meet their billing targets. The information came in the PwC annual Law Firms’ Survey Report which found the average newly qualified lawyer had an average annual billing target of 1,596 hours – but this wasn’t being met. In fact, they were coming up 150 hours short of their target on average (yikes!). The question is - what can these attorneys realistically do to bring in more billable hours?
The answer may actually lie in something called “productivity hacking”. In fact, I personally have benefitted from using some of these hacks to drastically improve the way I work every day. Although these may seem simple at first, actually implementing them into your day to-day activities takes some determination. However with a little grit, these tricks could be key to meeting your billable targets and furthering your success as an attorney.
Use a To-Do List
Start every day with a to-do list. Don’t let yourself get muddled up about what tasks you need to complete, and spend time at the end of one task wondering what you need to do next. The key is to create a to-do list which shows exactly what you need to achieve in a day, and when each task needs to be completed by. This helps you maintain your focus, and gives you clear goals which you can tick off during the day.
Set Expectations for Your Clients
While you might want your clients to always reach out to you when they need help, it’s important to manage their expectations so you can focus on the job at hand. The more your clients contact you, the less time you have to do what needs to be done.
Talk to your clients about what you can achieve, and when it will be achieved. Maintain focus, and stick to a schedule.
Take Calls on the Move
If you’re busy, don’t make a taxi trip or a walk to the office wasted time. Use any time you can to catch up on phone calls or speaking with your clients. That knocks off a task on your to-do list once you find yourself back at the office. Managing your time is extremely important in this work, but make sure you still have some time to yourself.
Use Technology to Improve Your Practice
To get your work done, you need the right tools. If it takes you 6 hours to generate an invoice, and you charge $300/hour, you could have made thousands more by practicing law during that time. Then, factor in all those calls, emails, and small tasks that went un-billed. Collectively, we’re talking about tens of thousands of dollars lost each year. The best way to prevent this is to consider using a legal case management software to help you with tracking time and generating invoices. This could free up your time and help you clock in more billable hours.
Create a ‘Focus List’
According to the Harvard Business Review, making a ‘focus list’ to supplement your to-do list can increase your productivity. This is a list of tasks that require the least amount of resources, but which are most important. Put these to the top of your to-do list, and you’ll find yourself with less on your shoulders by the end of the day.
Create an ‘Ignore List’
Finally, make sure you have an ‘ignore list’. This is a list of tasks that distract you, and which would be best handled by other people. If you have paralegals and other team members who can help you, give them your ignore list. If you don’t have other staff members on hand, consider hiring a freelancer on sites such as Upwork or TimeEtc. You can usually find a good virtual assistant on these sites pretty quickly and they could help free up lots of your time.