For paralegals, much of your time is spent managing your ever-growing caseload. The stack piles up day in and day out, without ever looking like you’re making a dent in it. And the only way you will make a dent in it is through better time management.
“Paralegal time management” …Does that sound like an oxymoron to you? It’s not. And here are some tips to help:
Being strategic about your time management
You already know you won’t be able to efficiently manage your caseload without first managing your time. However, managing your caseload more efficiently will take work on the front-end. In order to start seeing time-saving results some strategic planning is required prior to working on the execution-strategy.
First, figure out your time management challenges
To practice better paralegal time management, first figure out what robs you of your time. Is it the myriad distractions of the day, those that come with the job like emails, phone calls and colleagues? Maybe it’s procrastination and a tendency to focus on the easy tasks while avoiding the hard ones. Or maybe it’s something else, like time spent looking for files. Figure out what your “time wasters” are and come up with ways to avoid them. Until you do this step, the term “paralegal time management” will be an oxymoron.
Schedule, schedule, schedule
When you’re proactive about planning your day, paralegal time management is much easier to achieve!
Next, turn to technology
Once you have determined the challenges, look for tools or other processes to help. For example, could you use a calendar app to keep all your dates—court dates, transcription processing, etc.—in one place? Or use case management software to track the cases you are working on and schedule the due dates or work time for each of the cases. Finding strategic ways to save time doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. A little technology might help.
Then, figure out that filing
Electronic fling can be helpful in the courts, but physical filing is still important around the office. How much of your day is spent on this manual task, both the paper end of it and the digital end of it? If it’s too much, then try these tips…
Finally, eliminate distractions
Sometimes, it takes more time to get organized than you’d like, but it’s worth it in the long run. Consider it a short-term investment for long-term gain. For example, taking 15 minutes to organize your schedule could be one of the best 15 minutes you spend all day, and could lead to an additional hour of productive time. All of these paralegal time management suggestions have the potential to increase your productivity long-term if you take the time to implement them.