Lawyers’ habits prohibit efficiency

By Lara Bullock|02 March 2016
Cholena Orr

Lawyers need to review their personal habits to maximise their efficiency, according to a workplace productivity expert.

Speaking with Lawyers Weekly ahead of her webinar series with CPD For Me, Cholena Orr (pictured), director of pac executive Human Capital, said that lawyers need to hone in on their bad habits to improve their productivity.

“Research tells us that around 40 to 45 per cent of the choices we make each day are due to habit,” Ms Orr said.

“Unfortunately, most of us have never been taught how to work and this means that over time many lawyers have developed inefficient habits.”


According to Ms Orr, inefficient habits include checking email too often, over complicating filing systems, not applying discipline to meetings, allowing ourselves to get interrupted and lack of planning.

Ms Orr said that according to research, people are interrupted by incoming email at least once every thirteen minutes, but it takes between one and 24 minutes to refocus on a task after checking your email.

“The maths just doesn’t work,” she said.

“Determine how long a client can wait for a response from you if they email you, and then put appointments in your diary to check your email at those times and only those times.”

Beyond the distraction of frequent email checking, Mr Orr said many lawyers need to assess their use of technology in general.


“Technology should be an enabler. If it’s not, then the ‘tail is wagging the dog’,” Mr Orr said.

“By learning how to use our technology, we can improve our efficiency and effectiveness.”

A third bad habit many lawyers have is giving up personal time to cope with increasing workloads.

“Every hour you work over 50 hours per week has been proven to both decrease your personal efficiency, and increase your personal misery,” she said.

“The impact is that lawyers are amongst the least happy professionals in Australia. Apart from the impact on mental health, there is a huge impact upon productivity.”

Lawyers’ habits prohibit efficiency
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