It’s amazing how often the workday you planned gets derailed by other tasks. It can be almost too easy to get tied up with billing, accounting, client management, website maintenance, or payroll — not to mention all those great customer referrals to follow up on. Add in administrative tasks involving printers, phones, faxes and bank runs, and you’re looking at endless hours of “busy work.” As law offices grow, what seemed manageable at the outset becomes increasingly difficult to keep up with.
Here are four ways you can manage those tasks that clutter up your workday so you can get back to the most valuable work your clients come to you for.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate.
Sometimes clichés are clichés because they’re true; many hands really do make light work! Giving up a bit of control can be tough, but setting up your team well so that you can delegate more tasks will let you get back to the work that helps your business grow. Make it clear what everyone’s responsibility is, how best you can all share the workload, and introduce reporting systems to make sure everyone is doing their part. Invest the time up front to develop a strong internal process and then let it quietly hum along in the background.
- Do a little every day.
Block out time on your calendar every day to devote to the smaller things on your list, even if it’s only 10 minutes. Quiet month? Use the time to catch up on the necessary tasks you may have been neglecting. Chip away at the simpler tasks on an ongoing basis rather than leaving them to later when they’ve become one giant pile that seems insurmountable.
- Consider outsourcing when it fits your budget.
With a little outside help, you may be able to complete more deals for more clients without increasing the hours in your workweek. You might even discover that the people you find are more skilled at some of the specialized tasks than you are.
Bookkeeping is a great example. Ask yourself: Am I spending so much time dealing with invoices that I’m falling behind on legal tasks? If the answer is yes, it’s time think about a part-time bookkeeper.Student law clerks, legal assistants, and paralegals are always eager for some part-time experience. They can help with research, customer follow ups, office organization — all the repetitive tasks that quickly suck up your time. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find someone great you want to keep on after they graduate and they’ll already be trained for your office!
You probably won’t be able to outsource everything you’d like to right away so pick what will give you the most time back and start there. Don’t forget to consider each new outsourced vendor in terms of how they will increase your profitability. If you’re outsourcing a task simply because you don’t like it and not because it fits your budget and frees up a lot of time, delegate it instead.
- Hire a virtual assistant.
Virtual assistants are contract or freelance workers who work from home and focus on administrative tasks. They can easily manage contacts and lists, schedule appointments, handle correspondence and much, much more. With a virtual assistant, you get a professional team member who performs many needed tasks, understands your office’s needs, and who won’t cost what an in-house person would.
In the end, by focusing on what’s most important and offloading smaller duties, you lower costs, get a faster turnaround, and minimize overhead. Not only that, you also increase the profitability of your entire firm by focusing your legal staff, including you, on the tasks only they can do. When legal staff don’t waste their time with basic repetitive tasks, they can use that time to provide a better experience to even more clients.
So make the best use of your time, and that of your entire team. You can’t afford not to.