The way forward

I am working with a client who is nearing the end of our six month program. For the past few calls we have been working on managing the growth of his practice. You have likely heard the expression, “Dress for where you want to be, not where you are.” The same can be said about your practice. Act where you want to be, not where you are.

This of course refers to changing the way you manage your practice as you grow. It involves changing your behavior. It means more delegating, becoming more selective in the files you take on, grooming the juniors to handle more of your work and building your team. This client gets it. He can see this is the only way forward to reach his goals.

Too much work? What now?

On a call with a client yesterday and he is at the stage now where he must start to delegate more. He has become very successful at bringing in new clients and work. He finds himself at capacity. The first thing I recommended he do was to think about which files he could delegate to other lawyers. Now that he has created some momentum with his business development efforts, the worst thing he could do is stop. A lot of the smaller files are not supporting his goals. By dropping a couple of them and focusing on his business development, he is more likely to reach his goals sooner.

It’s time to put aside the ‘lawyer’ hat and put on the ‘business’ hat. At this stage you must become very strategic and selective of the work you take on. With growth come new challenges. And these are exactly the types of challenges you want.

Why procrastinate?

Most if not all of my clients have a habit of procrastinating? Why is this so common with lawyers? What do you get from putting things off? How does this effect your productivity? Your peace of mind? Your stress level? And perhaps most importantly, your level of client service?

Habits are easy to get into and not as easy to break. But they can be broken. Ask yourself, ‘what potential upside comes from putting things off?’ Do you get a rush from doing things last minute? How does that serve you?

Moving forward try setting deadlines ahead of when you actually need them done. Some people intentionally set their watch ahead so they are not late for meetings or appointments. This tip follows that same logic. If you can ‘trick’ your mind into thinking something is due before it actually is, then you will be ahead of the game. Keep track of how this makes you feel? How does it effect your performance and peace of mind. When you start seeing positive results, you are more likely to keep this new habit and lessen your stress level.

Keep your eye on the goal/reward

In a client session last week, we talked about how to keep focused when doing tasks tat may not be your favorite. Procrastination and time management are two areas where if you keep your eye on the goal, or ‘reward’, you are much more likely to complete the task.

In the case of this client, he has a new-born daughter that he would like to spend more time with. Understanding that by getting those trivial yet important tasks done, and spending a little time getting and keeping organized will allow him to spend more time with his daughter. That is his reward. What is your? Positive motivators work a lot more effectively than negative ones.

Time management 101

If you are like most lawyers you struggle with time management. And who can blame you? Things come at you all day long and often last minute. So how to you keep up? Here are a few helpful and proven tips.

  1. Schedule time to review emails and when you are working on an important file, turn your email notification off.
  2. Train your staff and others to know when your door is closed that means that you are not to be disturbed unless it is an emergency.
  3. Start each day be making your ‘to do’ list and check things off as you accomplish them. Even if you don’t get to all of them it will still give you a sense of accomplishment.
  4. Avoid Internet distractions by scheduling time in your day (lunch) to check Facebook or personal emails. Don’t let them take over your life.
  5. At the end of the day review your list to see how far along you got and revise it for tomorrow.
  6. On Fridays before you leave the office take a few minutes to clean up the piles of files scattered all over your desk. Imagine what it will do for your outlook Monday morning when you come into an organized and neat office.

Try these out, they work.