You can always tell the morning person in your office. He or she arrives early, brings coffee and treats for everyone, and is chipper and chatty from the moment they walk in the door until around 3:00 PM, when they start to droop, just a little bit.
The night owls creep in quietly and usually drink high-octane coffee in the mornings. By 2:00 PM they are working on all cylinders and they are perfectly content to keep going, often until 7:00 or 8:00 PM.
We know that people have different internal clocks, and in some offices, as long as they are productive, no one minds. In other offices, flexibility just doesn’t work for practice, and employees are asked to conform to the office schedule.
Here are some pointers that may help your office get in sync.
Daily briefings. Institute very short meetings that gather the team on a daily basis to review work in progress, alert everyone to anything big that is on the horizon, and create a stronger sense of rhythm to everyone’s day. We know offices that do this at 8:45 AM and others that do it at 3:00 PM. The goal is unify and communicate.
Take ten for yourself. Take ten minutes to review what’s on your plate. Some people find this more productive to do first thing in the morning, others prefer it before they leave the office for the day. This gives you a clear and overall picture so you are not lurching from task to task.
Set boundaries. We all know about the phone calls from demanding clients or opposing attorneys who sweep in on a regular basis and knock out any kind of time management. Before you pick up the phone from a caller who you know is going to eat up way more time than necessary, consider whether or not you need to take the call, or if you can respond to the call in a way that best suits your time.
Know your priorities. Take the time to review your real deadlines. Court deadlines come first, that’s easy. But what’s not always so easy is setting priorities where there are no time limits. Consider grouping certain tasks, like responding to emails, at a certain time of day. Or, if it works better for you, group your work by client.
Learn what works for you by cultivating awareness. Don’t worry, we are not going off the deep end here. Pay attention to the rhythm and pattern of your day. When are you most productive? What work flow seems to generate great results? By learning what works best for you, and building it into your day, you can be more effective and more efficient.