It is that time of year again—resolution time!
“What do you mean, resolution time?” you may be thinking. “Christmas trees are still up, the holiday music is still playing, and my pants still fit.”
Ok, maybe we’re jumping the gun a little here. But with the New Year just around the corner, (or two corners, but who is counting?), it may be time to start thinking about how 2018 You can be the Newest and Bestest You Ever. Sure, 2017 You was supposed to be Newest and Bestest You Ever. And same with 2016 You. But 2018 is going to be different.
Why, you may be asking?
Because 2018 is not going to be the year where you make obscure/abstract/impossible resolutions like “Be happier” or “Win ten million dollars and retire to the Bahamas” (though if you do end up winning some big bucks and heading to the Bahamas, more power to you). 2018 is the year you are going to change some of your more problematic habits. The ones that are setting you up to fail. And we are not talking about not getting enough sleep or not eating or exercising well enough. We’re talking an even bigger behemoth whose conquering will lead to your evitable success and growth. Time management. Is there anything harder to manage than time? Especially when you know, full and well as a legal professional, that time is money? How do you go from 2017 You to 2018 Newest and Bestest You Ever? Well…
1. Get a routine going
The hardest part about a lifestyle change is creating and forcing a routine where there wasn’t one before. Just like trying to get more active by cramming a couple of gym classes into your schedule, time management can take a little finessing (or cramming). Start by taking an inventory of your daily tasks, especially the time-sensitive ones. What time do you wake up? What time do you have to be at work? How long does it take you to get ready? Are you able to eat breakfast in the morning? Or are you always almost missing the train? How long do you need to sleep? Are you going to bed at a reasonable enough hour that will allow you to get the sleep you need? Once you have these more staunch time markers down, you can start building your schedule around them. And once you have your schedule going, stick to it.
2. Wear a watch
No, it isn’t enough to have a clock on your wall or your computer, or to have a clock on your phone. You want something that is omnipresent and weighted, so you never forget that you are on schedule. As with most things, you need to be aware of time if you want to be able to be in control of it. You can totally grab dinner with friends on a weeknight—as long as you are keeping track of the time. Being unaware of how long you are out is not an excuse, especially if being out late is going to have a domino effect days deep. Don’t let the time escape you. Track the minutes. Account for them. And remind yourself that if something gets pushed back everything after it is getting pushed back too.
3. Keep your calendar updated and share your calendar across devices
What’s the point of creating a routine and keeping a watch on you if you never know your day’s schedule? Do you know what your day looks like? How about tomorrow?
You have a calendar on your phone and computer. Use it. Keep it updated. A stitch in time saves nine and all of that jazz. If you have MerusCase, your calendar is shared across all of your devices, whether you are on your phone or on a computer. Take advantage of that flexibility and stay on top of your schedule in the office or on the go.
Anecdote time: Just recently, we sent out an email to attendees of a conference a couple of days beforehand, expressing our excitement about attending the forthcoming event. When we got there, an attorney came up to us and thanked us for the email as he had forgotten the conference entirely, and it was our email that reminded him. We are happy that our email reminded him, as we enjoyed meeting him. But imagine if he never got our email! Spoiler alert: nothing good.
4. Utilize Notifications
Maybe just having a calendar isn’t enough. Maybe you respond better to more aggressive forms of time management—like notifications. After all, you may have seen that you had a late lunch scheduled with a client earlier in the morning, but that was two cups of coffee, twelve emails, six phone calls, and a deposition ago. No one can blame you for the event slipping your mind; you barely remember to eat lunch on an average day. But a client lunch is important.
Instead of taping a giant post-it note on your phone or writing a reminder on your hand (I have personally been guilty of the latter), just set up an alarm for the event. It doesn’t have to actually “sound” so much as notify you that something you’ve scheduled is coming up. And if you have your calendar set up across devices you can rest assured that YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ESCAPE THE NOTIFICATIONS. That sounded a little more ominous than intended, sorry. But you’ll make your event on time. That's what matters.
5. Schedule breaks
If you don’t have any breaks scheduled into your day, the temptation to take a break whenever you feel like it may become difficult to manage, especially if your day looks extra overwhelming. Instead of giving into that temptation and tanking your entire day, schedule a couple of breaks across your day. And I don’t just mean taking time for bathroom or food (though if you aren’t doing those things, go, do them). I mean like 10 minutes to take a walk outside or 5 minutes to meditate. Whatever you need to re-center yourself, do it. Don’t exhaust yourself. Like most things in life (including life itself), this whole thing is a marathon, not a sprint. Find a way to keep your energy and spark going. Don’t burn out when you’ve still got a couple of laps to go. You may not be able to cross the finish line that way.
6. Reward yourself
Existence can be hard. Be kind to yourself and reward yourself for a day well done, even if you weren’t able to do everything you had originally planned. Effective time management means you are able to adjust as you go.
Take a bathtub soak, pour yourself a cup of tea, read a good book before bed. Give yourself some kindness. Tomorrow is another day.
Are you like our anecdote attorney friend and need some help with managing your time and calendar? See what Merus can do for you and your firm! We just may change your life. Or at the very least, get you where you need to be when you need to be there.
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