When applying for Training Contracts, it’s likely that you were frequently told about the ‘fast-paced’ nature of a career in law, and this certainly holds true in some instances. In my current Commercial & Regulatory Disputes seat, there are often occasions where important deadlines on different matters fall around the same time and sit alongside other important but perhaps less urgent work.
To manage and keep on top of this varied workload, it’s important to achieve high levels of productivity each day that I log-on for work. In this blog, I will share some of the ways that I maximise my own productivity and, as such, it is descriptive rather than prescriptive. However, the overarching message is one of encouragement to find what works for you, and as you try to find ways to increase your productivity, you’ll gradually settle into your own ways of doing things. Here is how I stay productive as a Trainee Solicitor…
There may be a time of day when you are most productive and being aware of this can be really helpful to increase overall productivity. For me, this is early in the morning and if you had told me that a few years ago, it’s fair to say that I would have been apprehensive. Like many others, I became familiar with the occasional late night studying and the resultant late starts whilst at university. That being said, since switching late nights for early starts, I’ve not looked back, and it’s had a really positive impact on my overall productivity.
I’m usually in the office and logged-on 1 to 1 ½ hrs before the working day (typically) starts and I allocate this time to tasks that require deep focus such as drafting and reviewing complex documents. My inbox is quieter at this time, allowing me to really focus on the task at hand without being drawn to incoming emails. This allows me to hit the ground running for the day as I’ve often crossed off a task from my to do list before 9:00 a.m.
Whilst early starts have worked for me, the key take away is to find the time of day where you are most productive (this could be in the morning, midday or even after lunch) and if possible, try to allocate more complex tasks to this time. This will allow you to complete these tasks more effectively as you are addressing the complexities at the time when you are best equipped to do so.
Michelmores is home to employees with a vast variety of experience and expertise and there is a real breadth and depth of knowledge across the Firm. As a Trainee, I have taken time to talk to and learn from colleagues, to understand their areas of expertise and commercial interests. Developing these relationships has enhanced the way that I collaborate with colleagues as I know ‘who to ask’ when I encounter an issue. Of course, in the first instance, you should be resourceful and try to resolve the problem yourself if you can. However, where the answer lies beyond your expertise, being comfortable reaching out to colleagues makes problem-solving a much more efficient process. Notably, collaboration is one of the three words that Michelmores uses to describe how the Firm delivers services: collaborative, creative and commercial.
I find that my productivity at work is actually helped by what I do outside of work. Setting time aside either on evenings or weekends for hobbies and interests can help you reset and arrive to work to feeling refreshed and ready for the day / week ahead. For me, this includes regularly attending the gym and reading but there are also opportunities to take part in my hobbies and interests through work. For example, I have recently joined the Firm’s cricket team (Michelmores CC) which has been a great way to meet new people both from Michelmores and other businesses whilst enjoying a game of cricket in the sunshine.
Ultimately, the circumstances that give rise to productivity are subjective, but I hope that the three areas I have discussed in this blog (namely, understanding when you are most productive, the importance of collaboration and finding time for hobbies and interests) can help you find what works for you.