What are you doing with your time? If you’re like most lawyers:
- You’re spending it, tracking it, billing it, prioritizing it, bemoaning it, and trying to wrest it into submission.
- You’re always on the lookout for time management techniques on the theory that there must be something else you can do to be more efficient.
- You’re working harder and faster and longer to try to serve your clients’ wants and needs and in an effort to get everything done NOW
How’s that working for you? Are you exhausted yet?
You Can’t Manage Time
According to self-described “self-discipline strategist” Rory Vaden, the author of Procrastinate on Purpose, previously existing time-management techniques have focused on offering only two solutions for getting more done in less time:
- Working more hours and doing things faster (running). When it comes to running, Vaden quotes the following startling statistic: “74% of people say they are not maximizing their potential in professional endeavors, despite working more hours than ever before.”
- Constantly reprioritizing tasks (juggling).
As many lawyers know all too well, existing in a perpetual state of running and juggling can lead to stress, anxiety, exhaustion, dissatisfaction and, eventually, burnout.
Multiply Your Time
What do successful people do differently with their time? How is it that we all have the same 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week and yet some people seem to accomplish things of great importance while others spin on the same hamster wheel day in and day out without making much headway in the direction of their goals?
According to Vaden, successful people don’t just run faster and juggle more – they “multiply” their time. In other words, they spend time on things today that are designed to give them more time (and results) tomorrow.
After explaining the concept of multiplying one’s time instead of simply trying to outrun it or use it for the highest priority tasks, Vaden describes 5 “permissions” multipliers give themselves in order to make it happen.
Each of the 5 permissions hinges on the concept of significance. Asking yourself what is most significant to you (not just to someone else) allows you to make the choices necessary to multiply your time.
Give yourself permission to:
- Eliminate (allow yourself to say no to the things that are not serving you – this, according to Vaden is the most immediate area of improvement in multiplying your time).
- Automate (invest in systems that allow you to stop doing the same thing over and over again).
- Delegate (get things done, yes, but get them done through other people).
- Procrastinate on Purpose (in other words, intentionally wait or decide not to take action when it’s not the right time to do so rather than succumbing to the pressure to do everything right now or panicking when you simply cannot).
- Concentrate (be super-focused on only one priority, that is, whatever is the most significant use of your time, and temporarily ignore the small stuff).
It may seem a tall order to grant yourself all of those 5 permissions at once. But the concept of multiplying your time will serve you well. Making the effort to get more out of your time instead of trying to get more out of yourself will be time well-spent.