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Gimbal's Tip of the Week

The Lean Law Firm Blog

E203: How to remove interruptions from your day and stop wasting time waiting!

process improvement productivity Oct 11, 2023
Man waiting and looking at his watch

It’s 9 a.m. You’re sitting in front of Zoom, staring at your own face, but the two people you’re meeting with aren’t there. When they do arrive, one can’t get the sound to work. Finally, at 9:06, everyone’s ready and you start your meeting.

Almost every meeting starts a couple of minutes late, whether you’re in person or online.

It’s normal, right? Wrong. It’s a waste.

 The problem is that “normal” makes it hard to see the problems, and you can’t improve what you can’t see. Using the DOWNTIME framework, you can shine a light on the wastes that are hard to see. In this tip, we’ll introduce W for Waiting.

The Tip: Interruptions are another form of waiting waste.

When you’re looking for waiting waste, don’t forget about interruptions and the time it takes to refocus on a task once you’ve been interrupted.

Think about the number of times you’re in the middle of something, and the phone rings, or someone pops into your office with a question. Research suggests that it takes time (up to 20 minutes!) for your brain to get back on track after an interruption. All that time is a waste.

If you can shave off one minute of waiting time on something you do 5 times a day (like those interruptions or the meetings that don’t start on time!), you’ll save yourself 20 hours a year.

If it’s something others are also waiting on, the savings really add up. If five of you are waiting on the same thing, shaving off just one minute will save 2.5 weeks of time across the year!

The time that you save is time that you can spend doing more important, value-adding work for your firm or department.

Your Action Item: This week, record all of the minutes you spend waiting.

At the end of the week, add up the time you’ve spent waiting for things like:

  •  your technology to boot up or run updates
  •  people to get back to you with information, instructions, or approvals
  •  meetings to start
  •  anything else you’ve been waiting for

Include the interruptions and the time it takes you to get back to the work you were doing.

Once you’ve got your total, look at what or who is causing those waiting periods. Pick one that you can actually do something about and commit to changing it. Every waste you eliminate gets you one step closer to a streamlined, efficient practice!

If you'd like some help eliminating the waste in your practice, or you've got any questions, book a strategy session with us. The first 30 minutes is always free.

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