How to Make the Most of Your Productive Times

Pomodoro Kitchen Timer for Action Logging, originally uploaded by AndyRobertsPhotos.I’ve written before about how I love to get up early because that’s my most productive time of the day — but I don’t think we’ve ever talked about how to optimize those productive hours to get the most stuff done. I have my own tricks; I’d love to hear what you guys use as well. (I usually can be focused enough without time management techniques during this time — but they can be super helpful during other times of the day. Pictured: Pomodoro Kitchen Timer for Action Logging, originally uploaded by AndyRobertsPhotos. )

1) Know what you want to do. I always find this time is best to focus on ONE THING, not a whole to-do list. I don’t even WRITE my to-do list until later in the day, to be honest. When I get up early, I do the one thing that I need/want to do, and nothing else.

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Time Management, Down to Minutes

timemanagementReader M writes in with a question about time management and billing fun…

There was a discussion a few weeks ago regarding timekeeping methods for those of us enslaved to the billable hour. I would LOVE to see a whole post on this. It’s been a hot topic among the associates at my small firm lately, particularly with the increased scrutiny our bills are getting from clients in the late economic times. What do people use to keep time? How efficient are people? Am I normal to have to spend 10 hours in the office to bill 8, or does that mean (a) I need to stop messing around so much (I’m looking at you, online shopping and Corporette threads!), or (b) I need to bill more aggressively? Any helpful tips on being descriptive in bills (5.9 hours for “organizing files”??)?

Tough question, and I’m very curious to see what the readers have to say.  I remember being told, as a summer associate (many moons ago and in a very different environment than we find ourselves today) that “everyone bills differently — some people get that flash of brilliance on a case in the middle of the night, or in the shower.”  (Um, for the record, I never billed any time for showers or middle-of-the-night-tossing-and-turning — not that work thoughts didn’t ever intrude on “private” time.)  (Pictured: Pocket Watch Clock, originally uploaded to Flickr by Svadilfari.) I’ll also point out that it varies from client to client — some prefer you to bill in quarter hours, others in tenths of the hour; some will let you get away with “Drafted brief” as your description; others will want “Researched and wrote section of brief on copyrightability.” [Read more...]

Looking for the 25th Hour? Our Top Time-Saving Strategies

time saving tipsDays at the office can be incredibly long — made only longer by the fact that there are still chores, errands, and other life issues to be dealt with. We thought we’d start an open thread by listing some of the things that we do to save time on life tasks, and then see what your thoughts are.  (Pictured:  Hungry Mouse Timer, available at Amazon.com for $8.)

Cooking.
- Plan ahead. Lately, we’ve been trying to save time cooking by only doing one order from Fresh Direct for the entire month.  We figure out what recipes we want to make/try, what ingredients we need, and order everything at once.  Then, we print the recipes (we tend to copy recipes into our Palm Pilot), staple them together, and keep that printout in the kitchen for the month.  (It helps to highlight any “fresh” ingredients that should be used sooner rather than later.)  When the FD delivery comes, we put almost everything into the freezer until we’re ready to use it.   (We’ve been enjoying crockpot recipes from Kalyn’s Kitchen, lately.)
– Have a snack mentality through the day — yogurt, cheese, nuts, fruit, so forth.  Our point isn’t that you should eat low-calorie foods (to each their own), but that you can save time by finding foods that are relatively healthy for you and easy to grab and go without a lot of prep work.  Focus on calcium content, fiber, and protein — make your snacks work for you.  Other times, we’ll bring “components” to the office — for example, a blue cheese that was not a hit a party (too strong) gets added to the plain spinach and tomato salad we pick up with the deli.  We save money, get the satisfaction of using a food we bought, and don’t have to slave over “lunch” in the morning. [Read more...]