Productivity Strategies To Help You Grow Your Business And Profits
There are various techniques that law firm owners can employ to grow their business (while subsequently enhancing the quality of their legal services), but none are as effective as improving productivity.
This is because productivity “measures how much output a company can produce from resources such as labor, capital or raw materials.” By increasing your output, you can, and ultimately will increase your earnings. Enhanced productivity can also improve business efficiency, strengthen your industry reputation, and curb employee burnout.
With that in mind, here are some productivity strategies you can use to help you grow your business and profits.
Boost time management skills.
Good time management is integral to the success of any business but can be particularly pertinent in the legal industry. After all, the nature of the industry means that most tasks, such as reviewing pleadings or preparing for depositions, are time-sensitive.
Whatsmore, wasted time means wasted earning potential, especially if you spend hours on end completing redundant tasks or giving in to distractions. While this may not initially seem all that bad, “when a lawyer, who charges $250 an hour, decides not to charge for even one hour a week, they lose $12,000 a year. By capturing that hour they gain $12,000.”
As a result, you can increase productivity within the workplace by placing a clear focus on enhanced time management. For example, you could encourage staff to set daily goals and targets that encourage task prioritization and efficiency. Ideally, this should come in the form of a simple schedule that outlines the tasks they must complete each day and not a to-do list.
This is because, while appearing promising on paper, to-do lists aren’t actually that efficient- for multiple reasons. Lengthy to-do lists lead to subconscious overwhelm, which leaves employees prone to distractions. Furthermore, they can also trigger something known as the planning fallacy, where natural optimism overrides practically (in short, we’re hard-wired to believe that we can complete tasks much quicker than we actually can). As a result, daily to-do lists aren’t an objective way to improve time management, as you’ll often rush to get through all of the tasks. Rushing often results in mistakes, meaning staff will have to return to this work later.
Thankfully, there are various (simple) ways to promote better time management amongst your employees. For example, you should encourage them to kick start their day with the tasks they deem to be the most intimidating or challenging. After all, studies suggest we are more productive and focused in the morning, meaning we’re better prepared for more challenging workloads.
Distractions, procrastination, and downtime make up a significant part of the working day. And, while taking breaks can be useful, it’s important for your team to stay focused on the end goal – being a part of a successful and growing business. In fact, according to a recent study “American businesses lose $650 billion each year as a result of workplace distractions.” This is money that many businesses cannot afford to use, especially when preparing for an economic downturn.
Luckily, there are many ways to minimize workplace distractions. For example, if you find yourself reaching for your phone or scrolling mindlessly on your laptop during work hours, block certain websites so that you aren’t able to access them as easily. Alternatively, you could make a rule that phones are not allowed on your desk (aside from work phones), to rein in mindless scrolling.
You should also encourage staff to ensure their work setup is just right, whether you’re working in a communal office space or at home. For example, desks should always remain a clutter-free zone, as “your ability to focus is restricted in cluttered environments, as well as your brain’s ability to process information.” You should also encourage them to set up shop close to a window, as exposure to natural light, even indoors, is known to heighten focus and productivity.
Pinpoint distractions that affect your processes, productivity, and profits.
Another way to enhance productivity within all areas of your firm is to first pinpoint exactly what it is that’s limiting your productivity..
If plummeting productivity levels are the result of employee burnout, then you may want to consider outsourcing certain tasks or duties that would otherwise prove stressful or time-consuming, such as complicated financial projects. By outsourcing these duties, such as by hiring a fractional CFO, you’re reducing the workload of your employees and ensuring they can focus on the work you actually hired them for. You’re also working alongside a certified accounting pro, reducing the chances of you making mistakes that could cost you significantly in the future.
Conversely, you may find that your productivity is lessened due to the types of clients that are retaining your firm. This is because some clients may require more attention or support than what is needed to resolve their case. This can quickly become time-consuming and labor-intensive – which can be frustrating when you consider that they aren’t paying you any more than your less intense clients. As such, you may want to work to become more effective and selective when choosing your ideal law firm client.
You should also use this as an opportunity to evaluate non-billable vs billable tasks. For example, administrative duties, while necessary, are often not considered billable hours, despite the fact they take up a good chunk of your time. Identifying issues such as this will enable you to make positive changes. For example, you could then implement time-saving admin technology into your daily practices, such as automation technology that will assist you with routine tasks such as responding to emails, phone calls, and other forms of client inquiries. You can also automate billing processes, which means your team can spend more time working with clients than sending out invoices. This can improve workplace productivity considerably as “92% of employees say having technology helps them to do their job efficiently”.
Consider hiring a business consultant or coach.
Hiring a business coach or consultant can also prove to improve productivity within the workplace because they have a deeper understanding of what it takes for a business to truly succeed. As a third party, they’ll be able to identify any ‘blind spots’ within your business that are hindering your success, thus making room for far-reaching improvements. To put it simply, they will enable you to “set better goals, reach your goals faster, make better decisions and improve your relationships” across the board.
Ideally, you should reach out to a business coach who has experience supporting those who work within the legal industry, so that they can apply specific industry knowledge to their regular coaching. This will give you both the optimal chances for overall success, as they’ll be able to teach you how to run your law firm like a business.