Every paralegal knows, whether you’re billing your time or, if you are one of the lucky ones, not, managing those 7.5 hours of a day is crucial. Yes I know what you’re thinking, 7.5 hours a day is a rarity. Here are some tips that I have developed for the two biggest time wasters.
One of my biggest issues is email. No matter how diligent I try to be, the email in my in-box seems to multiply. I try not to let it pile up and acknowledge receiving it as soon as I get it. I have learned that if I just view it and not open it, it continues to show in my in-box as not read even after I send an acknowledgement. By keeping the email unread I am reminded that I still have not responded to the question and am able to, at the end of my day or early the next day dedicate sometime to research and provide an answer to the email. However, as soon as I get the email I send a response to the person who sent it to me letting them know that I received the email and will get back to them as soon as I have a minute. In doing this, I am letting the person know that I am not ignoring. One of my biggest pet-peeves is being ignored. I don’t want others to feel I’m ignoring them.
This can be the biggest time waster in the office. People will call and even though it may be with a business purpose, they will begin chatting. “let’s schedule lunch ” or “how was your weekend?” although I enjoy chatting and sharing ideas with co-workers there is a time and a place for everything. In the middle of my getting a huge project done which is due tomorrow for the committee meeting, I have learned, it is not the best use of my time. I’m not one to advise you to let calls go into voice mail. I find that to be a bigger waste of time. Ok, so sometimes it’s necessary. However more often than not it isn’t.
Letting the call go to voice mail will only make you have to go back, listen to the voice message, write notes and return the call. It is much easier to pick up the phone and let the caller know that, although the call is important, this is not the best time since you are under a hard dead-line. Most people will understand if you ask them politely if you can return their call. I pick up the call and explain that I am under a huge deadline and will get back to them as soon as possible. I immediately write their name and number down on a notepad that I keep right next to the phone. Do not use a post-it note. I have found that the sticky part of the note dries up and they fly away or somehow it ends up in the recycle bin. By picking up the phone and letting the caller know you are busy you are giving the message that the call and the caller are important to you but this is not a good time. At the end of the day i make sure i pick up the phone and am able to give my full attention to the caller and the issue they called about i can then choose to either work on the matter at that time or the next day. I always let the caller know which i will be doing.
What about you? What do you think are the biggest time wasters? What have you developed in order to minimize them? I would love to hear from you.