WADE LAW GROUP
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HOW I SET THE TONE FOR MY DAY
SUCCESSFUL PRIORITIZATION STRATEGIES
When it comes to time management, it’s important to know your priorities. How else are you going to make the most of your time? Each day, without fail, first thing in the morning, I generate a list. I usually stick to 10 things a day. I list out what I’m going to do that day and the order I’m going to do them in, from urgent to less urgent. Whether I’m out in court proceedings all day or in the office, this is a crucial part of setting the tone of my day. It’s a compass that points to my priorities: what’s happening that day, calls I need to make, court appearances, which briefs I need to prepare — this list is a visual tool to go through and make order of my day. This strategy works just as well for a whole week. Typically, I go about doing tasks this way: I prioritize what I’m going to do, then I take action. It’s helpful to look at what needs to get done but not spend hours overanalyzing it. That time is better used on what I’ve identified as important tasks. Once something is on my list, I can assess its value. If a client is waiting to hear back from me, that’s going to move up and take priority over an internal task. I also try to be realistic about what can get done. Don’t set yourself up for failure by creating a list that’s unattainable and will just need to be revised the next day. On most lists, you’ll also see something about taking frequent breaks to be at your most productive — I’m not the best at this, because I always want to keep working, but I do know how helpful it is to give your brain a break once in a while, especially when working on complex tasks. When it comes to tasks that are part of the bigger picture of our firm, I share them with my team because I want them to be on board with our firm’s priorities. It makes the tasks more attainable and helps us better serve our clients. Once you’ve defined your priorities, get your team on board with them.
Some find it helpful to use the Eisenhower method: creating a matrix for decision- making based on a task’s urgency and importance. Each task gets labeled as one of the following combinations: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but less important, or neither urgent nor important. What ends up on my list of 10 tasks for each day has to fit the urgent and important criteria. I’ve also found it helpful to complete the tasks I’m dreading first. This way, they’re done, and I’m not spending the morning thinking about the task I don’t want to complete instead of focusing on just doing it. It’s more efficient and effective to complete it than to procrastinate. More often than not, you’ll find that it’s not as bad as you expect. If you don’t prioritize, it’s impossible to manage all the tasks you need to get done in a day. It’s overwhelming, and it’s not efficient. By making a list and ordering everything, you know what absolutely must get done that day and what needs to get done but has more flexibility. I also rely heavily on my calendar to tell me what’s coming up and to keep track of obligations. It’s a great tool if you use it wisely. Of course, one thing is always at the top of my list every day: my kids. That’s nonnegotiable. This season, I’m looking forward to celebrating the holidays with them, incorporating our annual traditions and adding a few new ones.
How do you prioritize?
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