How Attorneys Can Maximize Slow Days

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Personal Productivity for Lawyers

This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.

The life of a lawyer can be a roller coaster. Some weeks you never leave the office before sunset, other weeks you can take two-hour lunch breaks.

When you find yourself with lots of free time, here are ways to stay productive.

Get out of the office

If you have been burning the midnight oil for weeks straight, take an afternoon off, or even take a long weekend if you can. Sometimes the best way to spur productivity is to take a break and let your mind relax. When you come back, you should feel recharged.

If you refuse to take an afternoon off, head to coffee shop and at least work from a more relaxed atmosphere for a change of pace.

Marketing, marketing, marketing

Slow days and weeks are great times to reschedule all those lunches you cancelled because of your busy schedule. If coffee is your thing, then schedule coffee meetings. Whatever your preference, make use of your time while you still have it.

If you started a blog six months ago but have not written a new post in a month, take a few hours to write some new material. If you use WordPress, write a couple posts and schedule them in advance. When things get busy, your blog will still post new material without taking up your time.

Work ahead if possible

If you refuse to take time off or spend time marketing, then try and work ahead and avoid another stretch of working late.

While you cannot always predict when a case will explode, lawyers still tend to wait until the last minute to write briefs. If you have deadlines in a few weeks, taking a couple hours now to work ahead and help avoid a glut of work later. You do not have to finish things, but getting a head start now can make things easier later.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/4556099850)

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  • Great tips! As a solo, I try and keep the time busy with something heading in the right direction. Marketing is big on my list.

  • Great tips. Alternatively you could develop alot more flex work. I do some freelance SEO as well as my own sites and I’m a realtor (alot like an extra practice area) there’s always something to be done. You could freelance write or do alot of other stuff. Don’t forget lead followup too.

  • Attorneys can also work smarter when things get busy. Contract with a freelance legal professional like myself to do your legal research and writing. I hold a JD and have been writing for several years. If you are an attorney and interested in more information, see my website. http://www.freelancelegalpro.com

  • I try to keep a list of research projects to delve into during slower days. Things like legal issues that I want a better handle on, litigation strategies, a new marketing strategy, a new piece of practice management hardware or software, how to improve my work-flow systems, etc. I’ve found that reviewing these types of things can be a very productive way to spend a slow period.

  • Stephanie is right. With a hybrid law firm you can mix direct client work with work for other attorneys who are having busy days at the moment. If the relationship works out, perhaps the other attorneys can do some freelance work for you when you aren’t having slow days.