As you already know, the busy season is in full swing for legal and medical funders. Not only are plaintiffs in need of funds to pay for food, bills, and gifts for their families in time for for the holidays, but insurance claims analysts have end-of-quarter quotas to hit, which leads to an influx of settlements offers. You and your company bear the brunt of all this year-end madness, often putting in 10-12 hour days, 90% of which are spent on the phone. So, how do you navigate December without burning out before the new year? Follow these 8 tips and watch your busy-season woes disappear.
By now, it's likely you've been burning the candle at both ends for well over 45 days. Despite your exhaustion, it's important to remember that the person on the other side of the phone or computer is in-need and dealing with the stresses of a lawsuit while also worrying how to provide for his/her family during the holidays. Moreover, it's possible that you are the only person who can help. It's not always easy to remember, but a little bit of empathy goes a long way.
Don't fall prey to the all-too-common "busy trap" in which you are being reactive to the torrent of emails, calls, and texts you're receiving, rather than proactive about what you actually need to work on. Rather than feeling as though you're spending your days catching up on communications, make a list of the top 10 applications you need to work on in a day, for example. Once you get through that list of important tasks, you can better compose yourself to address the other items on your plate.
Conditional on being proactive with your business is knowing how to prioritize your workload. This is much easier if you're on a large team, of course, and you focus on a single role, like intaking new applications, processing, or underwriting. Focus on the applications that are most likely to be funded first and triage accordingly from there. Prioritizing is trickier when you have more than one set of responsibilities (e.g. you are in charge of managing all stages of an application). If you are one such person, you should start your day addressing all new leads that came in overnight before focusing on approvals. Once you've undertaken these prime concerns, spend the rest of your day processing applications and watching for signed contracts coming back.
You can take prioritizing a step further by making the effort to have time in your day blocked out for each particular job-to-be-done. For example, reserve an hour or two to clear out your inbox or respond to necessary calls. This strategy will help you avoid time-wasting activities, increase productivity, and imbue you with a sense of control. Here's an example from a friendly funder: 9:00 - 9:30 am: Review inbox for returned contracts and documents from law firms 9:30 - 10:30 am: Call qualified, new leads 11:00 - 12:30 pm: Focus on Approved applications 12:30 - 1:30 pm: Lunch 2:00 - 3:00 pm: Focus on Processing applications; requesting documents, calling law firms, texting plaintiffs with status updates 3:30-4:30 pm: Focus on Approved applications 5:00 - 6:00 pm: Plan and prioritize for tomorrow
In order to be proactive as well as prepare for the new year, you should automate and simplify as much of your communication as possible. This way, you'll waste less time on writing routine communications and spend more time handling your long list of priorities. During busy season you should be especially cognizant to reduce time spent on the phone to only the most important of calls (new leads and approvals). Instead, your primary modes of communication should be text and email. You are likely to be sending the same documents and messages repeatedly, and each time you re-type or have to consider what message to send, you are wasting precious time and energy. You should be able to automate your texts, emails, and faxes by leveraging templates in your legal funding software. This alone will vastly lessen this communication burden, allowing you to process the surplus of applications.
When you're inundated with work, it's normal to feel like you need to push through alone-like it would take more effort to find the right helpmates and delegate work. However, slowing down to determine what tasks can be handled by other members of your team can be more efficient in the end. Are you a one-person show? Consider hiring a temp, or using freelancing service like Upwork for extra firepower. With the extra time, you'll be able to focus on more important tasks and you'll have the bandwidth to ensure you're producing quality work at crunch time.
The holiday is not just a busy time for businesses, but also for social circles. Be sure to remind your family and friends you are hard-pressed! Being upfront about time constraints will reduce tension and distraction from your work, but be sure to make some time for yourself and your loved ones, as well!
Everyone likes to feel appreciated and remembered, especially during the holidays. Sending a simple holiday card, or even just a good old thank you, to your attorney partners can go a long way in building stronger relationships that will be valuable in the coming year. More hours and longer work weeks can create hectic office environments, but if you manage your time correctly and stay proactive in accomplishing your holiday work tasks, you'll close out the year with less stress, and start 2018 on the right foot!
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