Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 8

PRACTICE MANAGEMENT

Blocking Out Time: THE SECRET
TO

WORKING SMARTER

By Rochelle Washington

Y

ears ago, I shared with a colleague that
I planned to launch my own law firm. As
a new mom, I wanted a better work-life
balance. She smiled and said, "Wow, that's great!
Having your own law firm gives you control over
your income, and you can even work part-time.
The best part is, you get to choose which 12
hours of the day you want to work!" I heard the
sarcasm in her response, but I recognized and
appreciated what she intended to convey at the
time: Managing a law firm could be more than
what I was bargaining for.
The reality is that most lawyers in small firm settings find that they have less
free time and more daunting administrative duties than anticipated. Busy small
firm lawyers find themselves frequently checking emails from clients, trying to
keep up with billing, managing firm finances, and constantly thinking about
case strategy or business development. Any free time they can carve out of
their packed schedule is quickly absorbed by unexpected or unplanned
occurrences.
Know that you are not alone. Proper time management is a challenge that every
small firm lawyer will face. The simple secret to solving this problem is to block
out time. Use one calendar for everything. Take a step back and look at your
calendar for the entire year. Consider what you must accomplish daily, weekly,
monthly, and annually. Determine where you can schedule blocks of time for
the following: client meetings, court dates, case status meetings, uninterrupted
work time, administrative tasks, networking, marketing, billing, family time, and
"me" time. I cannot emphasize enough the necessity of scheduling everything
you do, including your personal downtime. Although not all-inclusive, here is a
list of examples of what you can do with your blocks of time.

BILL REGULARLY
Lawyers bill on different intervals based on the nature of their practice. If you
intend to bill your clients once a month, block out that day each month for the
entire year. Make sure you include enough time to calculate hours, review entries,
and generate invoices. Setting aside a specific date and time ensures that you
view this time as allocated for an important task. You can avoid scheduling a court

8

WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

OCTOBER 2019

date, a client consultation, or some other task during the time that you should be
preparing and reviewing invoices. After all, the idea is to run a profitable law firm
and reap the benefits of doing so. If you don't bill, you don't get paid.

MARKET METHODICALLY
The same idea can also be applied to your law firm marketing initiatives. For
example, if you want to assess the effectiveness of your marketing efforts every
other month, you should block out the time needed to review and analyze how
your clients are finding you, what your website traffic looks like, and what types
of patterns you see in your flow of incoming business. This will help you determine what you are doing well and where you need to improve to generate
business and reach your target audience.

CONNECT WITH OTHERS
If you set a goal to network with at least one new person per month, consider
blocking out time for it, such as every second Friday of the month from noon to
2 p.m. As you make connections through your day-to-day interactions or after
attending an event, you can offer to meet your new colleague during the time
you've already blocked out. By having the time allotted on your calendar, you
will be more motivated to use it for the purpose intended.

MAKE TIME FOR YOU
Including personal events on your calendar is the most important way to find
wellness and achieve work-life balance, giving them as much importance as
client meetings or court dates. You also will have all the information you need in
one place for scheduling your work. For example, if you litigate, there is usually
some opportunity to set dates with the court. It is difficult to move a scheduled
hearing or trial date once you have been given the opportunity to select a
date. No one wants to prepare for trial on their wedding anniversary weekend
because the trial date is set for the following Monday morning. But it can
happen if the personal event isn't on your calendar when determining your
availability for court.

PLAN FOR UNEXPECTED EVENTS
It is true that you cannot always control everything that happens in life regardless
of how well you schedule and plan. Certainly, there will be times when emergencies or urgent matters present themselves and require rescheduling or shifting
of plans. Build in "cushion" time or set deadlines earlier than necessary in case of
unforeseen occurrences.
Blocking out time by scheduling all important events, personal time, and
ongoing tasks creates a proactive approach that allows you to exercise more
control and avoid distraction. The calendar system you use is your choice.
Just remember that once a task or event is on your schedule, it's up to you
to stick to it!
For more information on how to start, manage, and grow your law firm, contact
D.C. Bar practice management advisors Dan Mills and Rochelle D. Washington at
202-780-2762 and 202-780-2764, respectively, or email pmas@dcbar.org for free and
confidential consultations, management resources, and law firm assessments.



Washington Lawyer - October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - October 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Coding Out Implicit Bias With Ai
Rewriting the Rules on Data Privacy
Compromised Devices: Hardware Hacking Dangers
Taking the Stand
Member Spotlight
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Coding Out Implicit Bias With Ai
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 14
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Rewriting the Rules on Data Privacy
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Compromised Devices: Hardware Hacking Dangers
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 26
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 32
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - October 2019 - Cover4
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