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Work-Life Balance

Time Is Your Most Precious Resource

By Paul H. Burton

How best to manage time?

Making the most of your time — your most precious resource — results in a truly balanced life: You enjoy your work life and you enjoy your personal life. What lawyers do is hard. No matter what the clock says, the legal work must always be done. That’s your commitment to your clients. Any time wasted or lost during work hours comes directly out of your personal time. Minimize inefficiencies and you can get work done sooner and maximize your personal time.

You Can’t Manage Time, But You Can Leverage It

Time ticks inexorably forward. You can’t manage it. What you can manage, however, is your behavior, or how you use the time you have. Leveraging time requires that you ferret out and fix any inefficiencies in how you currently do your work.

Personal workflows — how you do things at work and at home — are easy to optimize. For example, most of us run errands during our personal time. If you gather the errands together to be done all at the same time, that’s the first optimization. Do them in one trip versus multiple trips to manage time. Next, you can complete the errands in a certain order to minimize driving time. That’s the second optimization. 

Turning back to your professional life, challenge yourself to find similar ways to maximize time spent working. Challenge questions include:

  • How can I better use my commuting time — document review, professional development, client communication?
  • How can I better use my lunch and break time — client or colleague meetings, working out, regeneration?
  • How can I better manage recurring tasks — optimize, delegate, terminate?

Managing to use the time you have well will create a good work-life balance. Eliminating unnecessary waste in your professional life increases productivity and provides more time for our personal pursuits.

Where can you leverage your time?

Related: Work-Life Balance — Where to Put the Accent

Illustration ©

Categories: Attorney Work-Life Balance, Lawyer Time Management, You At Work
Originally published February 15, 2016
Last updated August 21, 2020
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Paul H. Burton

Paul Burton is a former corporate finance attorney and General Counsel who helps lawyers and legal professionals make the best use of their time. The author of eight guides on individual and leadership productivity, he delivers seminars and coaching services to busy professionals across the United States. You can learn more about Paul and his practice at

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