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Managing your time as a law graduate

Team Prosple

GradAustralia's advice on how to adjust from university life to working longer hours, how to set boundaries and manage your time.

Law graduates may experience some anxiety when first confronted with billable hours targets. These targets represent the amount of time each week you charge to clients and they can be especially daunting for young lawyers who are still learning the ropes at a new firm. The following tips can help you meet your targets with minimal stress: 

  • Keep an up-to-date to-do list. There are various productivity tools you can try, from the Pomodoro Technique to the Eisenhower Matrix, as well as various apps and websites (such as Trello and Todoist) dedicated to task management. 
  • Prioritise urgent tasks. There are various ways to do this for maximum efficiency. One approach involves ranking each task by ‘importance’ and ‘urgency’, before focusing primarily on tasks that are both important and urgent. 
  • Remember to keep a diary of all critical dates set up with reminders so that you are consistently punctual and on top of your schedule. You can use various tools (such as Microsoft Outlook) to share these appointments with other stakeholders, set up phone calls, distribute any preparatory material, and book meeting rooms. 
  • Learn how to say ‘no’. Don’t take on further work if you know you won’t be able to complete it and be upfront about what you can reasonably achieve. 
  • Delegate tasks wherever possible and appropriate.
  • Update your timesheet whenever you complete a task. Avoid postponing this until the end of the day or week – it can be difficult to enter time accurately when you must first reconstruct your week in retrospect.
  • Take regular breaks to help you stay energised and focused.
  • Work on complex tasks when you are at your most productive. Always have an attack plan – know how you will break a large or complex project up into discrete, achievable subtasks before you start working.