Understanding time management techniques are an important part of being efficient with our time. But one of the most overlooked keys to creating more space in our day is making sure that we're consistently, and without exception, delegating work that is squarely within the job description of someone else on our team.
For many lawyers, we know that we're completing a task that should be done by a paralegal or secretary, but in the moment we choose to do it ourselves because it feels easier to “just handle it."
But if you think that "just handling it" makes more sense than delegating, you're seriously hurting your ability to get things done. Spending even 20 minutes a day doing someone else's work can have a dramatic effect on your productivity.
Here's why. Let’s say there is one task a day that you’re currently doing that could be delegated, and that task takes 20 minutes of your time:
20 minutes a day x five days a week = 1 hour and 40 minutes a week
Multiply that time by four weeks in a month = 6 hours and 40 minutes a month
OR multiply that time by 46 work weeks in a year = 76 hours and 40 minutes a year
In other words, if you can identify just one 20-minute task a day that you can delegate to the right person at the firm, you’re opening up almost two full weeks of work time.
What would you do with an extra two weeks every year?
Delegating can be difficult because it requires us to break old habits and GET INTO NEW ROUTINES. But the best way to start delegating is to take a close look at everything you do on a daily basis for three days in a row and for every task ask yourself: am I the right person to be doing this? If you're not, stop what you're doing and work with the person who should be doing it to transition that task.
If you want to really maximize your time saving: come up with a system that allows you to identify delegable tasks in advance, and work with your team to train them on how you want it done.
Delegation is not only important for your productivity, it's an important part of making sure the firm runs smoothly. When people consistently work outside their job description, the firm's work systems become jumbled and people become confused about who is responsible for what.
Here's the takeaway: in the abstract, identifying and delegating a 20 minute task feels like we’re talking about insignificant gains. But when you multiply those gains over the course of weeks or months, they free up massive amounts of time.