Solo/Small Firm

Manage Your Time, Manage Your Life

Useful Tips for Inside and Outside the Office

Written by Ruby L. Powers

One of the most valuable skills to have in your personal toolkit is time management. Time management is not based solely on increasing your productivity but allows you to create a healthy work/life balance and take control of your calendar, not the other way around. Being successful at time management comes from trial and error, utilizing best practices, and developing the proper habits. It is something that takes time, because if you move too fast, you risk becoming overwhelmed. Healthy habits lead to greater success.

This was something I learned through a lot of tried-and-true experiences as a business owner, former political candidate, immigration attorney, and mom of two. Below are some of my favorite tips from my law practice management book, Build and Manage Your Successful Immigration Law Practice (Without Losing Your Mind).

Eat the Frog
The old adage “eating the frog” is a reminder to tackle your most important tasks earlier in the day—whether having a difficult conversation with an employee or finishing a brief—which allows you to focus and avoid agonizing over it all day.

Practice pointer: If you like this visual, you could keep a plastic frog at your office—this lets people know that you shouldn’t be disturbed if the frog is out.

Time Management Matrix
The Time Management Matrix is one of my favorite time management tools, created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and popularized by Stephen Covey.

Graph based on Alex Czarto’s
The Four Quadrants of Time Management

The first quadrant holds the tasks that are urgent and important, things like family emergencies. The second quadrant holds the tasks that are not urgent but important; these are things like firm improvement and exercise. In general, think preventative work that mitigates crises.

The third quadrant holds tasks that are not important but urgent, these are things like interrupting emails, calls, and texts that are not of immediate significance. The fourth quadrant holds tasks that are not urgent or important; these waste your time, i.e., for non-essential purposes, surfing the internet with no aim. Using the matrix and planning your tasks out according to the quadrants will help you to effectively maximize your day. As you master the matrix, you can easily move away from the “important and urgent” category and stay in the second quadrant, important and non-urgent.

Rock Metaphor
This metaphor offers a visual that demonstrates the importance of prioritization. The ability to fit large rocks, small rocks, sand, and water in a bowl depends on prioritization from the start. If out of order, these elements fill up the unimportant in your life, represented by sand and water, and misplace what is most crucial, the “rocks.” The “rocks” you want to fill your life with are things that adhere to long-term goals in life and in your career. The elements you want to prevent from taking up space in your life are things like minor tasks that hold no significant outcome or that someone else could do. Keeping this metaphor in mind helps to prioritize where to spend your time. TBJ

 

Headshot of Ruby PowersRUBY L. POWERS is the founder and managing attorney of Powers Law Group. Located in Houston, the two-attorney firm focuses solely on immigration law. She is certified in immigration and nationality law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. A graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Law, Powers is an alumna of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and Leadership Houston. She is a 2020 graduate of Class XLVIII of the American Leadership Forum. Powers authored AILA’s book Build and Manage Your Successful Immigration Law Practice (Without Losing Your Mind). After years of advocacy at the border, the state capital, and in her community, she decided to run for public office and continues to support her community.

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