LIV President's Blog 2012

LIV President's Blog 2012

Michael Holcroft, LIV President 2012 on the latest issues and topics. Read and comment.

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Top 5 tips to become a more productive lawyer

Top 5 tips to become a more productive lawyer

One of the most engaging sessions at the LIV Conference of Council last weekend was our “45 Tips in 45 minutes session: Essential practical tips for busy practitioners, building greater efficiencies”. We are all time poor, but little things can help give more structure and efficiency to our working day. I’ll break it down even more for you. Here are my personal top 5 tips….

At our Conference of Council I sat on a panel chaired by Vice-president Reynah Tang and with guest speakers David Benet, owner SMB Technology and Nerida Wallace, Principal Consultant, Transformation Management Services.

We hope to run some similar practical practice management sessions for members during the year.

The “45 Tips in 45 minutes” is intended as a punchy, fast moving, “why didn’t I think of that?” session.

For those unwilling to wait, here’s a taste:

Separate screens & e mail accounts
Emails are a massive distraction and can interrupt your flow of thought. If you run separate screens you will stop ‘pop up’ emails so that you remain focused on the task at hand.

Find the ‘off’ button
There has been some interesting discussion recently about whether or not it is ethical to send practitioners e mails after hours, particularly if they relate to proceedings that may be in the courts the next morning. I don’t believe we will ever be able to return to the sedate 9 to 5 hours of practice of law. We live in a global world, but the alternative to high stress levels may be as simple as turn off your devices when you no longer wish to be disturbed. We all have a right to a life.

Use headings as a message in email
I get hundreds of emails a week. I don’t have time to open them all, quickly assess their relevance and categorise or respond to them on the spot. It greatly assists if people can use the subject heading to briefly explain the contents, and particularly any urgent items that need to be addressed.

Limit distractions
You might try not looking at your emails during certain periods of the day. You can set up in box folders to capture jokes, social messages and non-urgent subscriptions that you can deal with after hours. It is worth mastering the email ‘rules’ function and flagging items for follow up.

Work in 15 minute blocks
Short sharp bursts work for me. Then a couple of times a day I like to reward myself with a walk to the coffee shop, some fresh air and sunshine. Don’t take your devices, or use this break to catch up on the personal stuff.

What works for you? Share your top tip below.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by commentators are not necessarily endorsed by the Law Institute of Victoria Ltd (LIV). No responsibility is accepted by the LIV for the accuracy of information contained in the comments and the LIV expressly disclaims any liability for, with respect to or arising from any such views.

Robert Cudlipp
Emails are the modern day faxes; yes , I appreciate many members would not be aware of the alacrity with which the arrival of a fax was greeted.
Separate screens for emails? Why the cost and clutter. Depending on what works best for you, just read them once an hour.
Producitivty?Hard to beat the " to do" list, however elegantly presented it may be by pricey software.
18/05/2012 4:18:59 PM

Adam Akbulut
Recently completed an audio program called GTD Fast (Getting Things Done) by Dave Allen. So simple and very helpful. The program encourages you to think about everything in your life as a project, defining the specific outcomes you desire to achieve and to categorise the next action steps in a methodical manner, grouping phone call actions, office actions, computer/email actions, etc. By having a clear picture of your outcome, how you intend to achieve them and working in blocks (email during email time, phone calls for phone call time etc), you save time by increasing your focus. Will leave you with an overwhelming feeling of "I know this already, why did I ever stop approaching my life/work this way in the first place?"
16/03/2012 9:24:35 AM

Erhan Karabardak
Firstly this is a great topic to write about and we can all learn from shared experiences.

I find limiting distractions and using multiple monitors are excellent tips for productivity.
15/03/2012 10:36:08 PM

Victor Ng
I agree separate monitors is a must!

I find the diligent use of a 'to do list' is very useful. It allows you to seamlessly move from one task to the next without having to organise, in your brain, all the many things you have going on at once.

I thought we work in 6 minute blocks.... ;)

4/03/2012 7:21:59 AM

Tony Burke
practical and useful!
2/03/2012 3:52:29 PM

1. Close down email.
If it's not essential in your role to issue immediate responses, closing down outlook remove distractions (particularly if you don't have two screens to work from).

2. Keep emails to less than a screen
Limit emails in your inbox to items to be actioned or reminders, limited to a screen so there's no need to 'scroll'. File the rest.
2/03/2012 1:48:34 PM

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