Phone interruptions will cause legal work to suffer

Do you ever get upset that your attorney doesn’t take your calls right away?  This could be a good thing.  Last night I was updating the “About Us” page of my website, and at the bottom of the page I wrote the following:

A word about the telephone – I strive to give all my clients the attention they deserve, and therefore only return calls when I am not directly working on a matter for another client.  Studies have shown that it wastes approximately 13 minutes of time, or three tenths of an hour, if you are interrupted in the middle of a task to do something else and then come back to the task.  That’s three tenths of an hour that is wasted on someone else’s case.  As a result, I promise all my clients that I will not interrupt their work to take a call from another client and that they must expect that I will not interrupt the work for another client to take a call from them.

However, I can promise you that I will return all calls by the end of the business day, even if I have to stay into the early evenings (I’m usually at the office late anyway).  Any calls that come in after hours will be returned the next business day.

It turns out, my theory that phone interruptions cause attorneys to be less productive is pretty accurate.  CNN this morning reported on a study that was done of Australian doctors and interruptions.  The story found that interruptions led doctors to spend less time on the tasks they were working on, and that in nearly a fifth of cases, interruptions caused them to give up on the task altogether!

Now, these doctors weren’t being interrupted by the phone, but an interruption is an interruption – it doesn’t matter if it is a person or a phone call.  So don’t get upset with me if I don’t take your phone call immediately – when I am working on your case I promise not to take someone else’s phone call either.