When We Can’t Do it All: Efficiency and Time Management

The A-Z Guide has been updated (in the downloadable materials section of the site) and includes the thoughts below of working efficiently–as a tool to support boundaries. Please share your thoughts and additional suggested tools.

Efficiency and Time Management

Being able to establish boundaries and take time for rest and rejuvenation requires systems to organize and prioritize work, and to maximize efficiency during your work time. There needs to be an overall system to prioritize and track work, to filter in new cases and tasks, to adjust due dates as tasks are re-triaged, and to locate status updates quickly (for calls from investigators, clients the client family members, etc). There needs to be a workflow with predictable turnaround times, in order to give honest and realistic estimations when asked how long until you’ll get that motion filed? There needs to be a way to tuck in all the tasks at the end of the day so they don’t poke you incessantly at 3 a.m. and keep you awake.

Efficiency Strategies  
Communication: Stop checking email, voicemail, etc. more than twice per day. Turn off notifications. Set times with parameters to check communications (10-130 am and 330-4 pm), and filter tasks into priority lists.  
1.Delete unnecessary emails.
2.Delegate. While organizing your emails, you may find some emails which may need some action, but not from you.
3.Respond. Can the email you’ve run into be answered in under two minutes? If so, take the time and answer it.
The strength of this system is getting away from using your inbox as a disorganized and non-prioritized task list, which constantly interrupts your work and hijacks your priorities list.
 (From: Merlin Mann YouTube video, 7/23/07.)
Stop Multitasking: Do not be fooled into thinking you can do everything, all at once, all the time. Someone called this multitasking and set us all up for a lot of stress and disappointment. Multitasking doesn’t work and isn’t good for you.  
Separate organizing from working: Have designated times for checking messages and getting organized and designated time for uninterrupted writing and thinking—like with your door closed and your notifications off.  
Manage incoming communications: Decide the times you’ll check and respond to email, text, etc. Don’t let it hijack you day by continually interrupting.  
Work to your strengths: As much as you can within your assignment, work to your own strengths, such as (my version): using the 7-8 am window for the most challenging thinking/writing/innovating tasks that require fresh clear thinking; using the late afternoon lull for non-tasking administrative tasks, such as updating my case list and task list.  

What do you think? What additional tools and strategies do you suggest?

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