May 2014 Bar Bulletin
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May 2014 Bar Bulletin

Increasing Efficiency: What Happens Behind the Curtain Does Matter

By Catherine Jewett


When you have an appointment with your tax accountant, you probably assume he or she will be available and prepared with your documents, at the agreed-upon time. It also is likely that you assume the documents presented for your review and signature will be correct. More likely than not, you don't care if your tax accountant had to scramble to get everything ready, or had to adjust his or her appointment calendar to meet with you because of a double booking.

What occurs "behind the curtain," which separates your front-office customer experience from the back-office workings of the practice, doesn't matter to you. However, what happens "behind the curtain" does have a significant impact on the success of that professional practice. So it is with your practice, whether you are an associate at a large law firm or a solo practitioner.

On a macro scale, the efficiency and effectiveness of the inner workings of your firm affect how smoothly documents flow into your firm, get processed and flow out. On a micro scale, they affect the pace of your day, your stress level, your productivity and your attitude.

Ultimately, the smoother the "behind the curtain" systems in your practice, the less stress it imposes upon you, and the more productive and effective you will be. So, how do you create a smoother "behind the curtain" working environment in your firm? It begins with your individual efficiency and effectiveness.

To become more productive, right now, implement the following strategies.

Don't Remember It, Record It

When you hear or see something you need to remember to do or follow up on, trying to remember it through prospective memory requires a lot of focus you could be using to attend to the more important matter at hand. This lowers your productivity.

Instead, immediately use a crutch to help you remember the date, time or activity, so you can free up your brainpower to work on your priority project. The fastest and easiest crutch is to record the item; add it to your to-do list, enter a notification in your phone when you are on the go or put it on your calendar.

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