In the fast-paced, always accessible working environment we currently operate within it can be increasingly hard to stay focused on the most critical tasks. How many times do you finish your working day and think, ‘I got nothing done today that I had planned’?
In the legal sector, this can be increasingly challenging as you are managing multiple matters, including client and partner expectations at any one time. The team at CoLegal have put together some advice around how to create space for essential tasks without being seen as the person in the office always saying “I’m too busy.”
A measured response
Before committing to anything, change the way you respond to a request from “yes” to “When do you need this by?” and if you’re not sure whether you’ll have the capacity to get the task done by the requested time, you can add in “Let me look into it and get back to you”. Even better add in a time frame for your response so your stakeholder knows when they can expect an update. This gives you the space to think and plan and gives you an accurate idea of when the task is required.
What is the time commitment?
Now you have allowed yourself some space, use the time wisely. Critically assess how long the requested task is likely to take you. If you track your time, (and if you don’t, you should start) look up similar past tasks to gauge how long you will spend completing the task. This may start inaccurate if it’s your first time doing a particular task (e.g. drafting that type of agreement) but you will get better with practice.
Know what you can sacrifice
When you find yourself needing to jump on something urgent, communicate with your manager about what tasks will need to be moved and to when. Consider asking your manager to make this call so they can be totally across the situation. Having a well-planned calendar/schedule makes this easy as everyone can see your deliverables allowing them to be adjusted accordingly. If it’s a client request you can revert with an estimated time frame for completion to manage their expectations.
Not letting the endless ‘urgent’ requests dictate your priority list is crucial for ensuring you can productively manage your workload and meet your deliverables.
If you are working in an office environment where you are consistently fighting fires with no end in sight, get in touch with one of our expert Legal Recruitment Consultants who can assist you in finding an opportunity with an employer that aligns with a more structured way of working.