By Amy Larson – Thomson Reuters

When you are an attorney in a solo or small law firm, there’s the constant struggle between juggling the practice you and the business you.  But, there’s a third ball in this juggling act and it’s about keeping things together at home too.  It isn’t easy.  But, solo and small law firms need to be set up to maximize – and enjoy – their time in each of these areas of life.  Often, it’s just a matter of having the right tools.  Today I’ll share a few things I know eliminate lost time for me and many others.

  1. Tools to help management your practice.

It’s imperative that solo and small law firms streamline their business processes to free their attorneys to practice and serve clients. You need the right tools and resources to be organized, responsive and secure – this cannot be left to haphazard chance or old processes that allow you to just “get by.” To help you get all you can out of your day we’ve put together a matter management checklist that can help you reconstruct—and in some cases eliminate—the actual tasks that take up your day. On average that’s 40% of time in a small law firm according to a recent survey. This opens up time for more valuable work, which drives more revenue into the firm – and better client service.  Additionally, choosing a cloud-based practice management system allows you more flexibility and mobility to work whenever and wherever you need to.  Most of us are familiar with “The Virtual Law Office” – a simple concept that can make the life of a small law firm attorney so much more manageable. If you haven’t already, you can download a free copy of it here.

Numbers two and three are really around time savers and making things easier at home.  Not that this is rocket science, but I have to say, these have really made a difference for my time management. And, the first one even reminds me of redundancies in the office!

  1. Look for hacks outside of the office to help simplify everyday life.

This week’s favorite hack:  Grocery delivery.  It’s been around for years now and is becoming more widely available.  Grocery shopping may by one of the most inefficient things we do.  Think about it – before we’re done with the task of grocery shopping, we have touched the groceries no less than 6 times.  SIX TIMES!

  1. Into the cart
  2. Onto the checkout belt
  3. Back into the cart
  4. Into the car
  5. Out of the car
  6. Into the fridge or pantry

Sound familiar?  What about at the office?  How often do you repeat tasks or search for and file the same document?  (Remember to check out the Matter Management Checklist I referenced earlier). Bonus if you have the groceries delivered while someone else is at home – you don’t even have to put them away!  BOOM!  There’s an hour and a half or so right back in your week.

  1. Managing Money…. new banking and money transfer capabilities.

Money management, banking and the like sure have changed over the past few years.  I actually walked into a bank (an actual building) last Saturday after I don’t know how many years. A no-brainer is being able to deposit checks right into my account just by taking a picture with my smart phone.  But, there’s something newer to me that I love…the new apps that enable you to easily transfer money from one person to another.  Going out to dinner with a group of friends has never been so easy – no more writing checks to the person that picked up the bill, or “catching them with the right change later”.  (Funny how people forget to actually close that loop….but I digress).  No more “separate checks” which makes things easier at the restaurant too. One person picks it up and the others send the money to them instantly.  Pretty slick.

There’s a lot of ways to help us better manage each aspect of our professional and personal lives.  Trying new things to determine what works best for you can be very rewarding and effective.  In the words of Philip Dormer Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, “There is time enough for everything, in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once; but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.”  Find your hacks – and share!  @larsonac71