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Screw motivation

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You don’t feel like calling that client, writing that article, or researching that motion.

So what?

You don’t need to “feel” like doing anything to do it. You just do it.

You do it because you have to. Because bad things will happen if you don’t. Because as Steven Pressfield writes in The War of Art, “At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.”

Ah, but what about all the optional stuff? The things you need to do to accomplish your goals that don’t have immediate negative consequences if you don’t do them?

Like marketing.

You know you have to do it because if you don’t, your income will shrink or you won’t achieve the goals you (say you) want. But you still procrastinate.

The answer–the way you get things done without motivation–is to establish systems and habits that align with getting those things done.

When you schedule 15 minutes a day on your calendar for marketing (or whatever) and commit to it, you will see progress. Even if you don’t feel like making the calls or scratching out the words, you’ll do it because the alternative is to sit quietly, thinking about what you’re not doing.

(Note, if 15 minutes is still too much for you to handle, start with 5 or ten.)

Checklists can play a part in your systems. It’s easier to do something you don’t want to do when you have a pre-determined sequence in front of you that leads off with easy tasks that help you start.

Breaking up tasks into bite-sized pieces can help. Ten minutes of assembling and organizing your notes and ideas (while you’re watching the game) will make it easier to take the next step.

Ask yourself, “What could I do to help me get [whatever] done?” Would coming in an hour early twice a week help? Would hiring someone to do the most difficult or disagreeable parts help?

There are answers. You can get things done without motivation. But only if you have enough internal motivation to do it.

15 minutes a day can help you get more referrals

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The practice you want, the marketing you’ll need

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Yesterday, I saw an article with the title, “The retirement you want, the money you’ll need”. Good title. I took it and wrote the title of the post you’re reading now.

The point? You can get ideas for content and headlines just about anywhere. But only if you’re looking for them.

And by looking, I don’t mean scouring through blogs or your incoming email hunting for ideas. I mean being open to ideas finding you and being ready to write them down when they do.

I find ideas in many places. You will, too. Make sure you have an “idea” file or tag, read widely and deeply, and write down anything that strikes you, even if it seems silly or done-to-death. Develop the habit of finding and recording ideas first. Quality can come later.

Had you encountered the original title that inspired this post, you might have come up with a headline like, “The settlement you want, the lawyer you’ll need,” “The security you want, the legal protection you’ll need,” or, “The lawyer you want, the questions you’ll need to ask”.

Like these? They’re yours.

Developing the habit of collecting titles and ideas will pay many dividends. Continually fill your idea folder, regularly sift through it, and you’ll never run out of things to write about or effective headlines or titles to describe them.

I save my ideas in Evernote

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Interviews for the win

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People like to read about people. One of the simplest and most effective ways to market your practice is to interview people in your niche market.

Interview another professional. Interview a business owner or executive, a blogger or YouTuber. Interview one of your business clients. Interview anyone with an interesting story, information or advice pertinent to your niche market.

  • You’ll get content your target market wants to read (and your interviewees provide most of it)
  • You’ll get traffic to your blog, shares of your emails, social media posts or videos
  • You’ll get more subscribers and followers, prospects, and clients, and build your reputation as a leader in your market
  • You’ll have the perfect excuse to reach out to and meet influential people in your niche market
  • And you’ll get some of the people you interview asking to interview you, providing you with additional exposure

Interviews are easy. Ask 5 to ten questions, record and transcribe the interview, and turn it into a blog post or newsletter article. You can even turn an interview into a book. Here’s a book I published based on an interview of another attorney: How to Build a Successful Appellate Practice

Here’s a book I published based on an interview of me: How to Build a Successful Law Practice with Referrals

And here’s my book about how to turn interviews into books: The Easy Way to Write a Book

Interviews are easy. And pay the bills.

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A daily habit for people who think too much

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My wife and I are talking about getting a new car. We’re considering a hybrid, talking about features, costs, and gas mileage. My wife asks me a question. “I think better on paper,” I tell her, and reach for a pad and pen.

By writing things down, I see things more clearly. I can weigh the pros and cons, do the math, and figure out what I think. That’s harder to do when everything is still in my head.

Author Joan Didion said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”

Yeah, me too.

While back, I talked to you about “keystone habits,” positive habits that have a ripple effect on other areas of your life. Regular exercise, for example, doesn’t just improve your physical health, it can improve mental well-being, give you more self-confidence and more self-discipline to develop other positive habits.

Journaling is another keystone habit. It can help you see what you think, work through problems, explore ideas, and clarify priorities. Benjamin Franklin kept a journal. So did Mark Twain, Thomas Edison, and many other great thinkers.

Take five minutes a day and write something in a journal. It might not make you a great thinker but it can help you figure out what you think, what you’re looking at, and what it means.

Earn more, work less. Start here

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If only I was a Time Lord

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You’ve got a bunch of letters or documents to write. Two hours later, when you should have been long done, you’re still writing. Or re-writing. Before you know it, your day is half gone and you’re behind schedule.

Sound familiar?

The problem is explained by “Parkinson’s Law,” which says that “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

Give yourself an hour to catch up on correspondence and you’ll use that hour. Even though you could have finished in 30 minutes.

And therein lies the answer to getting more done in less time. Get in the habit of giving yourself less time than you think you’ll need.

Allocate 30 minutes for dictation instead of an hour. Give yourself one day to finish a brief that’s due in two weeks.

The more time you allocate to a task or project, the more complex it tends to become. When you have less time, you are forced to keep things as simple as possible.

When it comes to managing time, one of my weak spots has always been research. I often go down a lot of rabbit holes, spending hours and sometimes entire days trying to find what I need. The problem is I don’t always know what I need or I’m not always sure when I’ve found it.

That’s no way to run a business.

So now, I give myself a fixed amount of time. One hour of research, for example, because I can do a lot in one hour and if that’s all I have, that’s all I usually need.

If you want to start a blog or newsletter but are concerned it will take too much time from your other work, give yourself the amount of time you think you can allocate, and no more. The odds are that’s all the time you’ll need.

Yes, you do have time to get more referrals

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Give your life a tune-up

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You’re busy. Taking care of business, living the life you’ve created, traveling forward in time towards whatever comes next.

Are you going where you want to go? Are you doing what you want to do?

If you’re not sure (or, even if you are ), I encourage you to make a list (yes, another list) and find out.

Make a list of everything you do you wouldn’t do if you didn’t have to.

If you didn’t have to have an office, for example, would you? If you didn’t have to write articles, record videos, network, or advertise, would you?

Include big things and small things and everything in between.

Would you practice law if you didn’t have to? Would you do trial work, stay with your practice area, maintain certain expenses (e.g., employees, software, etc.) or take the same types of clients?

Do the same thing with your personal life. Relationships, activities, hobbies, investments, expenses.

Write it all down. And make no assumptions about whether you really do have to do what you’re doing. We all do things on autopilot, because we’ve always done them or because we don’t think we have a choice.

Set aside the list for a while. Come back to it with fresh eyes. And then eliminate, delegate, or modify the things on your list that don’t serve you.

Or, consciously accept them (for now) if you believe there is no alternative or that the price you’re paying is worth it.

This exercise will allow you to make better decisions about what you’re doing. It will help you gain clarity about your goals, priorities, and responsibilities, pare down or eliminate activities you don’t enjoy, and improve both your effectiveness and efficiency.

It will help you become more productive and more prosperous and improve the quality of your life.

So, what’s on your list?

Getting more referrals gives you more options

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You’re not thinking big enough

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Time to start thinking about next year. Setting goals, making plans.

How much would you like to grow your practice and income? Ten percent? Twenty? Twenty-five?

You’re not thinking big enough.

Do yourself a favor and choose a bigger goal. A much bigger goal, such as growing your practice and income by 250%.

Crazy? Impossible? Not going to happen?

For just a minute, stop thinking like a lawyer and hear me out.

There are two reasons for choosing bigger goals.

The first reason is that when you set a target of 25% growth, you tend to focus on doing things that can bring incremental growth–better execution, new ways to do what you’re already doing well, fixing things that are holding you back.

That’s okay but if you fall short, you might achieve only 5 or ten percent growth. When you shoot for 250% growth and you fall short, you might “only” double your income.

Which leads to the second reason.

Setting a big, audacious, crazy goal of increasing your income by 250% forces you to do things that are radically different than what you’re doing now.

You can’t simply do things better, you have to do better things.

You’re forced to get creative, think outside the box, and take massive action because that’s the only way you’re going to hit your target. Small, incremental goals don’t have the power to inspire you to do that.

So ask yourself, “How can I grow my income 250% next year?” And get excited because things are going to change for you.

Because while your conscious mind is telling you it can’t be done, your subconscious mind is looking for ways to make it happen.

Thinking outside the box about getting more referrals

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A checkup from the neck up

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Successful estate planning attorneys regularly contact their clients to inquire about life changes that might necessitate an update to their plan.

No matter what area you practice in, you should do something similar.

Once a year (at least), send your clients information about changes in the law and a questionnaire. Invite them to talk to you.

Do this even if your handle litigation or bankruptcy or another area where your clients are unlikely to need you again.

Why?

So you can find out about other issues or changes in their life or business that necessitate a referral to another attorney or to another professional.

Create your questionnaire or “legal checkup” checklist by asking other professionals to provide information. Ask an insurance broker, for example, for a list of questions your clients should ask themselves about their current risk-levels and coverage. Ask a CPA for questions related to taxes, a financial planner about investments or retirement, and other attorneys about their practice areas.

In addition to asking your “referral partners” to help you prepare your legal checkup, ask them to provide a special offer for your clients, if appropriate. A free consultation or document review, for example.

Once you’ve got your legal checkup up and running, help your referral partners do the same thing for their clients.

An annual legal checkup will allow you to better protect and advise your clients and stimulate referrals to you and your referral sources.

It’s a beautiful thing.

How to get referrals from other attorneys

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Why you need friends who do estate planning

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No matter what type of practice you have, you should seek out and befriend estate planning attorneys.

Why?

  • Because estate planning attorneys have clients who need what you do and can usually afford to hire you. Damages from wage loss, business loss, or divorce are often higher.
  • Because estate planning attorneys don’t have to wait for “something” to happen, ie., a loss, litigation, which means they have a bigger universe of prospective clients available to them.
  • Because estate planning attorneys often do types of marketing you may not do (seminars, advertising, direct mail), bringing in a steady stream of new clients they can refer.
  • Because estate planning attorneys usually offer services at different price points, appealing to a wider spectrum of clients.
  • Because estate planning attorneys usually write a newsletter and/or otherwise stay in touch with their clients and prospects, giving them more opportunities to tell people about you and what you offer.
  • Because estate planning attorneys network with many other professionals they can introduce you to.
  • Because estate planning clients associate with people of similar age, background, income, and need for estate planning, so estate planning attorneys usually get more referrals they can refer to you.
  • Because most of your clients will need estate planning someday and you’ll want to have someone to whom you can refer them.

If you’re looking to build your network of professional contacts, estate planning attorneys are a good place to start.

If you are an estate planning attorney, now you know what you have to offer other attorneys.

How to get more referrals from other professionals

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What ‘working smarter’ looks like

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There are lots of ways to work smarter. Targeting niche markets instead of “anyone with a legal problem” is an example. Networking with influential professionals in your target market instead of generic ‘Chamber of Commerce’ attendees is another.

One of the simplest ways to work smarter is to continue doing what’s working and abandon what isn’t.

And also doing what’s working for other lawyers.

No, don’t copy them. Emulate them. Do what they’re doing but do it better.

When I started practicing, there weren’t many examples of lawyers doing things I could emulate. I wasn’t a member of the country club crowd and I didn’t have money to advertise, so I had to get inventive.

I looked at what other self-employed service professionals, salespeople, and business owners were doing for ideas. Much of it didn’t apply but some of it did. Eventually, I found some things that worked and made them my own.

Years ago, a fast food company hired someone to go out and locate profitable sites for new restaurants. His job entailed examining car traffic and foot traffic, retail sales per square foot, rent comparisons and other factors.

But he didn’t do any of that.

All he did was locate all the McDonald’s in town and choose a location across the street. McDonald’s had already done the research and proven the value of the location and he piggybacked on their success.

Working smarter, he did. And so can, you.

You need a marketing plan. This will help

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