Are you tired of being labeled a Stressed-Out Lawyer?
You know that one of the most effective ways of helping your staff improve is by giving regular constructive feedback. You can improve your own efficiency and cut down on your stress by doing the same thing for yourself at the end of every work week.
To do so, set aside one hour of do-not-disturb time at home on a Sunday night. You will need a notebook, as the task is best done when it’s written down. To create a self assessment, begin by asking yourself:
1) What Did I Do Well?
The best way to hear criticism, of course, is to start with the positives. Be specific with yourself. Were you happy with the way you rewrote that latest interrogatory? Were you pleased with the work of your new virtual assistant? Write down as many examples as you can think of and give yourself the credit that you deserve. Doing so will allow you to work on the following questions more constructively.
2) How Well Did I Manage My Time?
One way to avoid being a Stressed Lawyer is by using time-tracking software to see the larger picture. Look at your hours for the last week. Did you spend the time you wanted to on the tasks that are most important? Did you put in the hours you needed, for example, on reworking your firms intake form so that you can secure the best future clients possible? Did you maximize your time in reviewing your associates work on that motion to suppress? If not, why not? Be honest with yourself and most of all, take responsibility for your own actions.
3) What Things Was I Not Able To Get To?
Had you planned to write monthly updates to your clients but never got around to doing so? Did you once again forget to pick up a sympathy card for your best friend? Go through all your work and personal to-dos and write down what you meant to do but did not get to this week. Why didnt you do these things? Why didnt you really? Understanding your motivations and fears will help you actualize your goals in the coming week.
4) What Were The Distractions I Encountered?
Think back to when you were interrupted, either by another person or by yourself. Did you check your email at ten minutes intervals all day? Did you allow another partner to violate your do-not-disturb time? Did a five-minute call to a client to stretch to a half-hour?
Once youve written down your answers for all these questions, re-read them. Then ask yourself, what are the three areas that most need improvement? Perhaps its blocking out more time for the first pass of a brief. Perhaps its spending more time prepping a paralegal for a research project. On each item that you flagged, think of the next action you can do to improve. In the former example, it may be setting aside an extra 25% more time for the task the next time it comes around. In the latter, it may be making a list of issues to discuss in your next meeting. Ask yourself what resources will you need for that next action? Is there anyone else with whom you need to speak? Are there dates, blocks of time, you can calendar in for the coming week?
Repeat this exercise every Sunday. Then, periodically, look back at your answers from prior months. Most likely, youll see significant improvement from the Stressed-Out Lawyer you once were. And then remind yourself once again that you’ve done a good job.