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5 Simple Ways Lawyers Can Improve Their Productivity

When you're a lawyer, your time is literally money. Use it effectively and you'll have a profitable career that doesn't keep you working 16 hour days.

The key, as the cliche goes, is to work smarter, not harder. Here are five tips to help boost your productivity, free up time, and make your day run a bit more easily.

1. Make a To-do List Everyday

Don't spend time letting conflicting tasks bounce around in your head or figuring out what needs to be addressed next. Start each day by creating a list of tasks that need to get done that day and over the long term. Ignore things like meetings that require no prep. Your staff can keep you on top of those things. Instead, focus on the actual, productive tasks you have ahead of you. It will help you plan out your day, stay focused, and make you more productive, while only taking up a few minutes of your morning.

2. Split That List in Two

The Harvard Business Review recommends creating a daily "focus list" for the tasks that require your limited resources and an "ignore list" for those that just distract you. But why ignore when you can outsource? Think of the tasks that can be handed off to others (or better yet, automated) and do just that -- put them on someone else's shoulders. Sure, you do everything best yourself, but your time is too valuable to be spent on trivial tasks.

3. Work While You Move

The law isn't the most vigorous of professions, at least not physically. Help keep yourself energized -- and avoid the significant negative health effects of sitting all day -- by taking some time to engage in simple office exercises.

But if you can move while you work, you can also work while you move. Turn simple meetings into "walk and talks," so that you can get your exercise while also getting in face time with colleagues and staff.

4. Pick up the Slack With Some Part-time Help

If you're swamped, but not swamped enough to bring on a full-time attorney or support staff, there are plenty of options out there. Consider bringing on contract or part-time attorney to help you out with simple matters that require a lawyer's touch. You can also bring on part-time support staff, such as a paralegal or legal assistant. (This is also a good way to help test out potential hires if you're considering expanding your practice.)

Consider, as well, testing out a virtual paralegal. Those are actual people who telecommute from virtual offices and are available to help out on an hourly or project basis.

5. Don't Get Distracted by Cash

Don't waste time fretting about your salary or income. If you need to see how you measure up, Indeed lets you search thousands of salaries online by job and location. Reports like Robert Half Legal's Salary Guide will also give you a sense of what attorneys are making in your area and in firms of your size. But don't spend more time than is necessary dwelling on how much your raking in. Instead, set realistic income goals, create a business development plan to achieve them, and take action.

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