In many industries, including law, there is a perception that the more hours someone puts in at work the more productive they actually are. Did you know that this might not be the case at all? There is no direct correlation between hours worked and accomplishments. So how do you know if your legal staff, or you, are putting in too many hours for too little reward? Here are some things to consider about the lack of productivity in a lot of overtime.
Important is not the same as busy.
There is an unfortunate perception, usually self-imposed, that the busier you are the more important you must be. However, most people who subscribe to this are only causing themselves more stress. In truth, most people you’ll interact with aren’t concerned about how many hours you work, just whether or not you doing your work well.
Speaking of being competent, you may want to restructure your workday to be more about results than about hours. You might not have the luxury to leave after just two hours at the office but rather than put in 60 hours a week, see how you can create a more efficient work style that will help you meet your goals faster and with great results. Then, you’ll still have time for a healthy work/life balance.
Recognize your own productivity patterns.
To restructure your day, look at how you work best. Some people are morning people. They plant both feet on the floor as soon as the alarm sounds and are ready and excited to greet the day. These people should take advantage of the time before lunch as it will likely be their most productive. Others may be more active in the afternoon, after several coffees. Play to your own strengths and put yourself in situations where you will succeed. Setting yourself up to fail just makes everything that much harder.
Set specific limits and boundaries.
It is really okay to say to your employer or your co-workers that you are unavailable for certain tasks after business hours. Don’t set a precedent by being available to work late into the evening and then cutting everyone off cold-turkey. Start by drawing manageable boundaries that everyone can respect and will be easy to maintain, then set some more. People will take advantage of workers who are always available. Finding a balance between being productive and being available will be respected.
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