How to Manage Time in Your Contract Attorney Career

Time is a major concern for most attorneys.  Law is a time-intensive practice, and it often feels like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get properly “caught up.”  For contract attorneys, this problem may be exacerbated by temporary assignments in which flexible hours lead to long work stretches followed by days or even weeks off the job.

Contract work offers a great opportunity for lawyers to strike a work-life balance – but only if they manage their time carefully.  How can you make time management work for you in a contract position?  Consider the following tips:

  1. Avoid multitasking.
    Attorneys tend to believe that falling behind or losing billable hours can be solved by multitasking – by trying to take on multiple jobs at once.  In fact, while this may work in the short term, in the long term it increases the risk of burnout and of doing multiple jobs badly instead of doing a few jobs well.Schedule your work day so as to limit distractions and allow yourself to focus on one task as much as possible.  For instance, try to schedule times you will check your email during the day.  When you check your email, do nothing else; when “email time” ends, ignore the urge to respond even when messages come through.  Similarly, when you are doing document review, simply review documents; when you are researching, do research.  When you take a break, really stop working – even if only for a minute or two.
  1. Commit to non-work plans.
    Contract work provides the opportunity for attorneys to fit a “life” between temporary jobs in a way that regular, full-time firm work simply doesn’t.  Want to take six weeks off to take a class, travel, or focus on launching a small business?  You can make it work with contract positions, as long as you schedule your non-work commitments and stick to them as seriously as you do your work.Flexibility is a key skill for attorneys.  Sometimes, an emergency at work will simply require you to postpone dinner plans or a lesson or event.  But the key word is postpone – not “cancel.”
  1. Talk to your recruiter.
    If your contract work isn’t working for you, talk to your recruiter.  Experienced staffing partners can both provide insight on how to manage your time and help you find contract or full-time work that allows you to strike the work-life balance you’re looking for, while still growing in your chosen career.

At Assigned Counsel, our experienced recruiters can help you find a contract or direct-hire position that will make the most of your legal skills and connect you with other professionals in your area of law.  Contact us today to learn more.

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