Why Meet Deadlines When You Can Beat Them?

Today, I ran across a really great article on the Lawyerist blog. The article focused on how to do the things that you can “do now” versus doing the things that are “due now” when you plan your work schedule

So often we tackle our deadlines within minutes of the due date when we could be planning ahead, checking things off our lists early and finding more time to do the things we really enjoy in life.

Sam Glover’s article gave a few great tips on how to make a switch from the “due now” to the “do now” mentality, such as setting aside an hour every week to make a schedule to plan work ahead of the due date.

He also gave a work schedule plan that breaks down deadlines into individual tasks that can be completed in advance, and he suggested completing some tasks early when you have time to do so.

I think that utilizing legal tech resources can be another way to help move from a “due now” to a “do now” schedule. For example, if you hire a virtual receptionist to answer your phone calls, take your messages and schedule appointments, why not add a few other tasks?

  • Prepare an intake questionnaire for your virtual receptionist to use when answering calls from prospective clients. This will save time and help you evaluate the tasks you need to do before you return the prospective client’s call.
  • Breakdown messages into different prioritized categories. That way your virtual receptionist can flag messages that are sent to your inbox with different levels of importance and time commitments.
  • Ask your virtual assistant to rank messages based on clients’ sense of urgency. This will help you rank importance of your call return list, and it will help you determine how much time you may need to dedicate to your next client meeting.
  • Block off time to schedule tasks at least once a week, and give your virtual receptionists blackout days and times so that they will not schedule appointments during those times.

Another way to use technology to help schedule your workweek is by taking advantage of the features available on a virtual law office platform. Virtual law offices help streamline the administrative side of law practice management using processes that are built into the software.

  • For example, using the calendar feature in a virtual law office, you can set deadline reminders that will keep both you and your client on pace with case matters.
  • Does your new client’s case sound extremely similar to something you worked on last year? Use your virtual law office’s search engine to avoid reinventing the wheel. In just minutes, the file, forms and law library will give you the tools to turn a 10-hour task into a 30-minute one.
  • Do you find yourself waiting until the end of the week to call your clients back to tell them how their case is going? Or do you end up waiting to receive a check in the mail or a signature before you act on a time-sensitive matter? Don’t put off important aspects of your client relationship. Instead, use the automated features in your virtual law office to notify clients of case updates and respond to messages quickly. In addition, stop wasting time waiting to receive checks or signed documents in the mail when you can just have your client pay online, upload signed documents and accept your retainer agreement with the click of a mouse.

After using these technologies to prioritize your to-do list and help you check off the items on that list, you might find that you can add a round of golf, a vacation or at least an hour of relaxation to your schedule with a few days to spare before you head to the court house to file a motion or send a timely response to a USPTO office action.