We all use the phrase “Time Management”, as though we can somehow manage time. We can’t. There are only a set number of hours in the day, and no one is able to come up with a way of creating extra hours. No one can manage time – what we have to do is manage ourselves better to work with the time we have.
It is also difficult to follow time management advice as if you were making a meal by following an expert’s cookbook. You would just add the ingredients in the order the book tells you, and Hey Presto! – you have a perfect time management system and go on to live a happy and fulfilling life. Unfortunately, Chambers life isn’t like that, and the ingredients we have to work with are unpredictable – none of us can forecast how many e-mails we are going to receive that morning and our main ingredient is even more unpredictable – even the most easy-going of barristers has a mind of their own and can change their personality traits because of the enormous pressures they have themselves.
There are lots of time management books that claim to have the perfect solution (like every diet book says theirs is. If that had been the case, there would only be one book. You are likely to come away with some great tips if you read any of these books (which you should) but note that none will be written by anyone who has worked in a set of Chambers where the demands can be completely different from any other office environment.
Some will advise you to rigidly prepare your tasks for tomorrow, today, and don’t be distracted from that list. It is essential that you think ahead and record that plan, but a Clerks’ room doesn’t lend itself to rigidly planning the days of the week in advance. Summed up by this quote from the author Ashleigh Brilliant.
“I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me all at once”
Because we are all different it is impossible for us all to prefer the same reminder/to do systems, but we can suggest a few methods and rules to follow to get you going. You will settle on the best method for you personally, but the really important thing is to have a system that is reliable – and not to kid yourself that you don’t need a system because you have an infallible memory!