Time is your most valuable asset. And it is perishable. You will never again get back the ten minutes you spent figuring out how to install the toner on the copy machine. That time is gone.
Everyone wants more time from you. Your spouse wants you to spend more time with the kids. Your paralegal and your associates want you to spend more time working with them. Your partner wants you to spend more time billing. Your client wants you to spend more time on his matter.
Everyone wants more of that precious asset but only a few are truly worthy. Yet we do not treat our time as a perishable asset. We treat it carelessly. We give it away and we waste it on stupid inane tasks that are handled inefficiently.
Below is one technique – just one – that will help you save an hour per day.
Never, Ever Answer a Ringing Telephone
Taking an unscheduled telephone call from ANYONE is a horrible idea. There are only three types of UNSCHEDULED calls you receive during your work day. They are:
- Personal calls
- Calls related to a client matter (past, present or future)
- Calls from someone who wants to sell you something
In all of those cases, it is a bad idea for you to pick up the telephone. Here’s why:
Personal calls should be handled on personal time. If you are at work, work. Have a conversation with your spouse, kids, mother, whoever and explain to them the importance of momentum and productivity. Then be proactive and call the people who are most likely to call you during your “personal” time (while driving, while having lunch, while taking a break from your work).
Taking unscheduled calls from a client or about a client’s matter is a disaster because you have no idea why the client is calling you or what the call is about. It is far better to have an assistant take a detailed message from the client and ascertain the purpose of the call. This way your assistant can schedule a telephone appointment to discuss the matter when you are prepared and have the client’s file in front of you.
Never, ever talk to a salesperson. Have your assistant screen all sales calls. If you have a legitimate need for the salesperson’s services, set up a telephone appointment to speak with that person.
Don’t have an assistant? Get a voice mail transcription service. I use Phonetag. This service transcribes my voicemail messages and sends them to me as an email attachment. You can then choose what you want to do with the call.
Here’s the bottom line on time management and this specific technique: You must train people to do business on your terms. Does that sound egotistical?
Think about it this way: You are always operating from an agenda. You can operate from your agenda or you can operate from someone else’s agenda. It’s up to you.
Train the people who call you for personal reasons. Train your clients. Train your assistant. And most importantly, train yourself.
The only person who can improve YOUR productivity is YOU. Start today with this simple technique.
Filed Under: Personal Development
About the Author: Dave Lorenzo helps solo attorneys, large law firms and small independent law practices make a great living and live a great life. People say his down-to-earth personality reflects more of his street smarts than his Ivy-League education.