Mastering Your Workload as a Legal Employee

April 4, 2024

Throughout the Legal sector, countless employees face expanding workloads and increasing pressure. The current economy means many organisations are forced to do more with less.

Managers are demanding greater efficiency and productivity from their teams than ever before. Yet, unfortunately, many employees struggle to adapt to these new expectations.

According to research by Development Academy, one of the main issues is that 82% of people don’t use a time management system. They use a to-do- list or their inbox only.

The same study revealed that only 20% of people do a monthly audit to review how they spend their time, and 1 in 8 people never feel under control at work.

Mastering workload management is the key to ensuring you unlock your full potential in the Legal workplace. It paves the way for career progression, reduces the risk of burnout, and contributes to a better work-life balance.

Here’s how to manage your workloads more effectively in the Legal Sector.

Step 1: Understanding Your Job Description and Objectives

Effective workload management begins with clearly understanding your responsibilities and role as a Legal employee. In a hectic workplace, it’s easy to lose track of where your focus and priorities should be, including how your performance will be evaluated and monitored.

Ideally, your job description and manager will offer insights here.

A good job description will define an employer’s expectations and the employee’s core tasks.

Often, asking for further detail and clarity when you are unsure can be helpful.

Talk to your manager about your responsibilities and how they align with the broader goals of the organisation. Ask them to identify the key deliverables they’re looking for in your work and how you’ll be assessed.

A precise knowledge of your responsibilities and the business’s objectives will help determine which tasks are most valuable to your to-do list. This will ensure you can effectively prioritise tasks based on the contribution they’ll make to your team, department, and business.

In addition, you will build a reputation as a significant and consistent contributor.

If you’re assigned a project that doesn’t seem to align with your role or the business’s goals, ask for more clarity; This demonstrates a commitment to generating measurable results for the company.

Step 2: Learn How to Prioritise Effectively

Based on what you learn about your Legal company’s objectives and your role, you can identify that some tasks on your to-do list are more important than others. For instance, while responding to emails is crucial, it may not be as critical as finishing a task before an impending deadline. There are various ways to evaluate your tasks based on priority, such as:

  • Using the Eisenhower Matrix: The Eisenhower matrix, or “prioritisation” matrix, breaks tasks into four boxes: neither important nor urgent, urgent but not important, important but not urgent, and urgent and important.
    For example, sending an invoice before a deadline may be important and urgent. Brainstorming for a new task may be important but not urgent.
  • Reducing your priorities: Starting your day with a list of 25 crucial tasks to complete can be overwhelming. Set yourself up for success by being realistic about what you can achieve in a single day.Some people use the 1-3-5 rule, which involves selecting one big task to achieve each day, three medium tasks, and five small actions.
  • Manage your energy, not just your time: People naturally go through periodic changes to how well they can focus. Defining when your most productive times are in the day can help you plan your schedule to maximise your energy.

Step 3: Know When to Say No

For many people, saying “no,” especially in the workplace, doesn’t come naturally.
Most Legal employees want to be seen as team players, ready to go above and beyond whenever a manager comes to us with an additional task or project.

Unfortunately, saying “yes” to everything increases your chances of burnout, making it more likely to make mistakes when doing essential work and harms productivity and efficiency.

Even the most impressive Legal employee has limitations. We can only accomplish so much in the time given to us, so it’s crucial to know when to say no.

Talk to your supervisor or manager when you’re assigned a task you can’t handle based on your current workload.

Explain why you cannot accept the extra task based on your current workload, objectives and deadlines. A good way to ensure you make the right impression is to offer alternative solutions to the issue.

Explore who else on the team has the required skills or abilities.

Suggest putting another less valuable task on hold if the new project is essential and urgent.

Step 4: Boosting Productivity and Maintaining Focus

According to the American Psychological Association, 20% of people are “chronic procrastinators”. We’re easily distracted, particularly in a fast-paced workplace where emails, requests, and environmental distractions constantly bombard us.

It’s not just the distraction that steals your time in the Legal workplace, but also the energy you need to refocus. Look for ways to reduce your exposure to distractions, such as:

  • Use time management techniques: Time management techniques like the Pomodoro technique or time blocking help to ensure you stay focused on specific tasks for reasonable periods. They encourage you to take regular breaks and help to reduce the risk of “multi-tasking” or switching between different tasks.
  • Eliminate common distractions: Consider using noise-cancelling headphones to block out excess noise in a busy office. Switch your phone and instant messaging platforms to “do not disturb” when working on complex tasks. You could consider closing your email tab or setting up an autoresponder message.
  • Optimise your workplace: A tidy and comfortable office is conducive to productivity. Remove any clutter around your desk as often as possible, and look for ways to improve your comfort with ergonomic furniture.Placing your desk next to a window can give you a cognitive boost, improving your concentration with natural light.

Additionally, remember to take regular breaks. Your brain can only focus for so long, and simple strategies like heading outside for some fresh air can revitalise your mind. A collection of studies conducted by Washington State University demonstrate that spending time in nature can alleviate mental fatigue.

Step 5: Invest in Continuous Learning and Development

In the fast-paced Legal environment, workplaces and roles constantly evolve. You’re more likely to struggle with workload management if you spend much time on projects you don’t understand or work with new and unusual technology.

With this in mind, focus on constantly developing your skill set. Use courses, webinars, and online workshops to develop new technical (hard) skills relevant to your role.

Let’s take A.I. as an example:

You may become more productive if you’re comfortable using AI-based software to complete repetitive work.

Think about how you can enhance your soft skills, too. Improving your ability to communicate or working on your critical thinking and problem-solving skills can help you to become more efficient.

At the same time, exploring consistent development shows your employer you’re committed to becoming the most valuable employee you can be.

Create time during mini-reviews, weekly catch-ups or regular one-to-one meetings with your manager to discuss your development needs. Explore the skills and knowledge you need to continue improving your contribution and performance.

Master Workload Management

The pressure on Legal employees today is greater than ever. Asana even found that 80% of global knowledge workersfeel on the verge of burnout. While it’s your employer’s responsibility to ensure tasks are distributed fairly among staff members, it’s up to you to ensure you’re making the most of your time and energy.

Ensure you understand your responsibilities and the goals of the organisation/organization. Find ways to optimise your focus, eliminate distractions, and know when to say no.

If you’re still overwhelmed by the work you need to manage and are not receiving the kind of support you are looking for, maybe it’s time to explore a company and culture that takes a different approach. Contact us at Everpool for help finding a role that can improve your work-life balance.

Email: or Telephone number: 0151 556 2090