Priorities and Getting Them Done
Every day brings with it new tasks and to-do lists. Some of these items are continuations from the day, or days, before, while others are new things that spring up every which way you turn. The never-ending list of things to do is just the reality of owning your own practice.
Nevertheless, there is no reason to feel overwhelmed or defeated by the endless list before you. You can feel productive and as though you have accomplished something each day by simply prioritizing and organizing your tasks.
The simplest step to begin organizing your tasks is to divide them into two categories. Let’s refer to these categories as the “little tasks” and the “large tasks.” The “little tasks” are the things that are on your to-do list each and every day, such as checking emails, listening to messages, looking over personal and professional social media and making sure you have organized meetings, appointments and paid bills.
Conversely, the “large tasks” are things that you don’t deal with every day. These larger tasks are assignment that require significant time commitments or if missed could close your law firm’s doors. Whatever this big item may be, you should attempt to allocate only one such item to your to-do list each day and follow a few simple steps to make sure it gets done.
Make the ‘Large Task’ a Priority
This advice sounds simple enough, but is surprisingly hard to put into practice. If you are like me, you will find yourself making excuses to do anything else but the biggest task that you need to accomplish. Set a date and time and just get it done.
I don’t really know why I keep making excuses and attempt to avoid taking care of the ‘large tasks.’ Most likely it is because the task is something I dread doing, which is why it keeps getting put off. Instead, we come into the office and busy ourselves straightaway with the little things that fill up a day. Then, before we know it, we’ve run out of time to get that large task done for the day. We’ve ensured that we are sucked into the hustle-and-bustle of client calls, staff management and “little tasks.” So how do you make your must-do large task a priority and actually stick to that priority? That brings us to step two.
You know yourself and how you work better than anyone else, which means you know when you are the most productive and focused during the day. For the vast majority of people, that time is within the first hour of arriving at the office. By that point, you’ve already been awake for an hour or more. You are fresh-eyed and bushy-tailed, and have had your shower, your coffee and your breakfast. Now you are in the office and have settled in. But before you delve into the time-consuming ritual of doing the “little tasks,” such as checking emails and confirming your calendar, consider reviewing those pending ‘large tasks’ and go ahead and knock them out ahead of everything else.
Make “the hour” a permanent part of your schedule. Once you have established the best time of day for you to get that large, priority task done, make sure that you commit to it. A simple and effective way to do this is to make it a permanent part of your schedule. Literally write it into your daily agenda and don’t let anyone schedule anything else during that time, yourself included!
Just Do It
Nike said it best. Now that you know when you are most focused on your large task and have purposefully set aside the time, just do it! Don’t let yourself get distracted by the little things or people in your office. Stay focused and get it done. Remember that you prioritized this task because it is vital to the success of your practice, even if you won’t see the effects right away. When it is finished, not only do you know you have added one more integral building block to your business, but you also now have the rest of the day to do all the other smaller, but still important, tasks that make up running a practice. At the end of the work day, you will know you have accomplished all tasks, big and small, and can take the night off to re-charge for yet another day in the life.
In the end, the process is simple enough. Identify your larger tasks versus your smaller tasks, organize and prioritize those tasks, then set aside the time to do your big task first and just get it done. You may have to fight your own bad habits of avoidance and time management first, but if you continually commit to and practice prioritizing and knocking out that big task, your days will soon go more smoothly and you will have accomplished something major each and every day.
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h