Time blocking for thee and me

Share

I’ve struggled with time blocking, aka time boxing or calendar blocking, at least the way I’ve seen others do it. I don’t want to schedule my entire day down to the minute, as some studs do, but even when I mentally block out time for writing or other projects, I still resist putting this on my calendar.

I informally dedicate my mornings (after doing email, some admin stuff and waking up my brain) to “deep work” — writing and other things that require focus and concentration. But I don’t schedule it.

When I’m ready, I go to work. When I’m not, I don’t.

This works for me, but there’s something appealing about the idea of looking at the calendar and seeing my day organized and tidy.

So I will try again.

In my quest to learn how others do it, I’ve watched some videos and picked up some suggestions. I thought I’d pass along a few of the best.

  • Time block email and admin so you can stay on top of it, and not be distracted when you’re doing other things and remember you forgot to reply to your email.
  • For “deep work”—anything that requires concentration—be specific about what you will work on (the case, file, project), and for how long, so you know exactly what to do during your time block. Specifics create clarity, clarity creates focus, and focus is how you get things done.
  • If you’re trying to block your entire day, for each block, (a) give yourself enough time to do the work; (most of us grossly underestimate how long things will take), and, (b) build in buffer time between blocks for breaks, travel, interruptions, and things that need more time than you have allowed.

If you have other suggestions, or would like to share how time blocking works for you, please let me know.

Share

What do you do for fun?

Share

We’ve all been asked this, haven’t we? What are our hobbies, outside interests, things we do when we’re not working?

We often minimize these while we’re building our practice because they take time away from our demanding career.

What if you didn’t have to do that? What if you could do both?

Even better, what if you could use your outside interests to help you build your practice?

You can. And you should.

Pick something that interests you. Something you would like to do more of.

Let’s say you like horses. Riding, showing, watching them race, reading Dick Francis novels, painting them, or anything else.

How on earth could any of that help you build your practice?

That’s simple.

A lot of other people like what you like and some of them need your services or know someone who do.

They might share your interest or they might be in a business or profession that works with, sells to, or advises people in that niche.

If you handle personal injury cases, wouldn’t it be great to represent horse lovers? You have something in common, and that commonality gives you a way to connect and possibly dominate that market.

If you handle business transactions, wouldn’t it be great to represent businesses related to the horse world? Trainers, breeders, feed companies, track owners, and so on?

And, don’t forget the professionals and influencers—the lawyers and accountants and brokers and bankers, the bloggers and authors, podcasters, and event organizers who target the horse world.

No matter what the niche, there are people in it who might hire you, refer you, or promote you. People who might interview on their podcast or book you as a speaker at their event. People who want to hear your story and introduce you to people they work with.

You speak their language. Understand them. And can (eventually) cite examples of things you’ve done and clients you’ve helped in that niche, giving you an advantage over lawyers who can’t.

Point taken?

Choose a niche that interests you. Get to know the people in it. And have fun while you build your practice.

This will help you choose your niche

Share

When your task management system isn’t working for you

Share

It’s not the app, it’s the system. If you have the right system, you can make it work in just about any app.

Or so we’re told.

I don’t think that’s literally true but there’s enough to it that if your system isn’t working, changing apps, as I did recently, might be the solution. At the very least, it gives you a chance to re-examine your system.

A few thoughts about apps and systems.

First, your system (and app) should serve you and make your life easier. It shouldn’t make you do a dance to keep up with it. It should sit by your side and tell you what to do next (because you decided that earlier) and give you the satisfaction of checking things off as you do them.

If it doesn’t, before you switch apps or radically change your system, consider looking for ways to simplify that system.

If possible, see if you can consolidate all of your task management functions into one tool.

You can have multiple lists or tags or labels but put all your work and personal stuff in one app.

In keeping with that, you should have one inbox. One place for all of your incoming tasks and ideas.

Because it’s simpler.

If one app/one inbox isn’t possible, because of partners or staff or whatever reasons, consider using two iterations of the same app, one for you and one for the team.
Less to learn and update.

Be realistic about the number of tasks and projects you can do each day, or at one time. Most of us take on too much, which leads to overwhelm and falling behind.

Keyword: a few at a time.

Then, make sure every task has a next action and a date when you’re going to do it, review it, or start it. Add a due date if there is one, but having a start date allows you to forget about the task until the start date, which allows you to give your full attention to what’s important today.

Then, update your lists “in the moment” rather than once a week or on some other schedule. When you complete something, tick it off. When you think of something, add it in. You can also do a weekly review, but that will be a lot easier to do if you’ve kept up with your lists in real time. 

Finally, if you switch to another app, don’t get bogged down learning and using a bunch of new features. Instead, consider turning off or not using most of the functions initially, and start with just an inbox and a place for today’s tasks.

This gives you time to think about what you’re doing and if there’s something you should change.

As you get more comfortable with the app and your new system, add back some of the other functions and see how it feels. If those work, you can add more.

That’s my take, and I’m sticking to it. Time to tick this off my list and see what’s next.

Share

This post might not be right for you

Share

There’s a phrase you should use in your marketing that might make your services more desirable. It’s based on the concept of exclusivity, that what you offer isn’t for everyone.

And that’s the phrase.

Tell people that “it” (your services, offers, seminars, etc.) isn’t for everyone.

First, because that’s true. And your candidness is refreshing.

Second, because it makes what you’re offering more specialized, valuable, and desirable.

It’s a type of takeaway which is powerful in marketing because people want what they can’t have, especially when they had it but it was taken away. That might happen when they see your offer, think it’s for everyone, and then learn it might not be for them.

It makes people wonder if “it” is right for them and then take steps to find out. 

If it isn’t for them, they don’t need to waste their time (which is good for you as well as them). If it is right for them, they often feel the need to act immediately, to get what they need and not miss out. And if they’re not sure, they realize they need to get more information or ask questions, which is also good for both of you.

So when you say “it’s not for everyone” you might also suggest they read something or contact you to find out.

Telling folks it’s not for everyone or “it might be right for you” makes you more credible, especially compared to those who make it look like what they do is for anyone.

It can also make you more in demand because people want what others have and they might stick around long enough to find out if they can get or should get it too.

Share

3 things you should do every day

Share

Every day, there are 3 things you should do.

The first is client work, obviously. Get the work done, the bills billed, the clients happy, and the bills paid.

The second thing is running the joint. Yes, marketing and management of your practice.

That’s true even if you work for a firm. You still want to bring in new business, build your brand or reputation, and do things that help you grow your practice and career.

It includes things like creating content, building relationships with influential people in your niche, strengthening relationships with your clients to foster repeat business and referrals, supervising and training your team, and improving your systems and workflows.

Third on the list, but no less important, is to work on yourself. We’re talking about personal and professional development. The stuff that makes everything else work.

It means improving your legal knowledge and your writing, speaking, and interpersonal skills. It means getting better at communicating, negotiating, and leading and managing people. And keeping up with technology.

So, 3 things every day.

Think of these 3 areas as legs on a stool. You need all 3 or the stool won’t stand.

How should you allocate your time? One third each? Not practical. Some days, you have nothing but client work and no time to do anything else. Some days you have other priorities.

But if you’re a rule-of-thumb type of person, that rule should be to do something in each area every day.

Even if that means making one call on your lunch hour or reading a couple of pages before you go to sleep.

Keep your hand in all 3 areas and do your best to not let a day go by without all 3.

Create recurring tasks in your task manager or calendar or habit tracker. Make this a habit.

Don’t let your stool get out of balance.

How to get more referrals from your clients

Share

Would you like some paper to go with that pen?

Share

You have something you want but you’re not doing anything to get it.

You’re not ready. You’re busy with other things. You need to do more research.

Maybe someday. . .

Or maybe right now.

If you have a goal or a dream or something you want, don’t wait until everything is just right. Do something. Take the first step.

Even if it’s tiny.

I’ll tell you why.

Yes, clearly you can’t accomplish a goal without taking the first step, but why now? Why take action before you’re ready?

Because when you do, your brain sees that “this” is something you want and goes to work to help you get it.

It gives you ideas and methods and tells you things you need to know.

Your brain sees that you did something, believes you want something, and helps you take the next step to get it.

It works like Amazon does when you buy something. It might only be a pen, but the algorithm sees this and starts sending you ads for paper.

Your subconscious mind does the same thing, but is much more powerful because it knows everything about you, not just what you recently bought (or put in your cart).

What’s your goal? What do you want to do ‘someday’?

Ask your brain to help you get it by taking that first tiny step.

Share

2 questions that can get you out of a jam

Share

You’re blank. You don’t know what to talk about or write. Relax. I’ve got 2 handy-dandy questions you can use as your go-to idea starter.

The first question: What do I want them to know?

What do you want the reader (audience, interviewer, new contact, etc.) to know about the law, about your services, or about you?

What do you want your new client to know about his case, what you’ll do first, and what might happen?

What do you want people to know about how you can help them or why they should choose you?

What do you want your clients to know about making a referral, writing a review, or when they should update their docs?

So much you want them to know. You could write or talk for days.

Okay, second question: What do you want them to do?

What do you want your new client to send you? What do you want them to do if an investigator calls? What do you want them to tell their doctor?

What do you want the reader to do after they read your article? What do you want your website visitor to do before they leave your site?

What do you want someone to do if they have questions? Want to make an appointment? Want more information? Aren’t sure they can afford it?

Use these questions to brainstorm ideas for content, correspondence, or conversation.

If you still run dry, ask yourself, “What else do I want them to know or do?”

Share

Paying clients for positive reviews

Share

How much is a good review worth to you? A client who says you helped them, made them feel safe, gave them tremendous value and solved their problems, someone who ssays they recommend you to everyone who needs help?

You’ve gotten great reviews before, so you know how good it feels when they show up. You also know they are worth a small fortune.

They bring you more cases from people searching for a lawyer online. More referrals from professionals who check you out before they refer their clients to you. And they make your other clients feel good about their decision to hire you because they can see that others say you’re the best.

Who wouldn’t love to get more positive reviews? You can’t buy that kind of marketing.

Ah, but you can. You already do.

No, not with cash. Don’t be silly. You pay for positive reviews by giving your clients an incredibly positive experience with you.

You don’t just do the work and deliver the results. You do more. You invest your precious time to serve them, go out of your way to take care of them, surprise and delight them, and build a relationship with them.

When they notice and thank you and say they appreciate what you do for them, there’s only one thing left to do.

Give them the link to the review site you favor and thank them, in advance, for sharing their experience and recommendation.

Okay, one more thing. After they post a review, thank them again.

In writing.

Send them a handwritten note and tell them how much it means to you that they took the time to write that review and say those nice things about you.

You’re not done paying until you do.

Share

Steal this blog post

Share

I’ve had people steal my content. One guy took one of my sales letters and published it as an ebook on Amazon.

The nerve.

But once I got over the shock of someone doing that, I realized it’s nothing to worry about, or try to stop.

You shouldn’t, either.

You shouldn’t worry about anyone stealing your content or idea. If that’s something on your mind, let it go.

You’ve got better things to do.

The time and energy you might put into stopping them could be much better used creating new content and new ideas, or building on what you’ve already done.

I know this might trigger some IP practitioners, but think about it. Even if you could stop someone from stealing and using your stuff, is it really worth the effort?

Don’t take that case.

Besides, the purloiner of your content isn’t going to do as well with it as you do because it’s your baby, not there’s.

You’re writing to and for your readers. You have a relationship with them and your content resonates with them. It has your personality and style, your stories and examples, watermarked on it, and anyone who tries to pass it off as their own is going to fall flat.

Even if someone successfully passes off your stuff as their own, even if they make a fortune with your idea, so what? If you have an abundant mindset, you know there’s plenty for everyone.

If you are worried about someone stealing your content, the best thing you can do is avoid writing generic articles and posts. Write something that carries your brand.

Spend your time creating good content, not looking over your shoulder.

Share

Monomaniac on a mission

Share

I have a friend, a successful businessperson, who describes himself as a ‘monomaniac on a mission’. He’s focused and passionate and lets nothing distract him from his goals.

Many people say something similar, but he actually does it.

He does it by eliminating most things that aren’t ‘it’.

Other businesses, people who drain his energy or distract him, things that require too much time.

As I say, he’s focused.

But he isn’t a workaholic.

He doesn’t get up early, put in impossibly long hours, and have no free time. He does his work, makes lots of time for his family, takes vacations, watches sports, exercises, and reads.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think he was well-rounded. But he’s not. He’s a monomaniac on a mission.

He’s focused on growing his business.

And yet he works fewer hours than most people. He’s more successful than most people because he gets more out of the hours he works.

How? He knows what he wants and how to get it and he just does the work.

Over and over.

He doesn’t get creative. He keeps turning the wheel. Many people would find what he does boring, but he’s long past that. He knows what works and he keeps his eye on the prize.

He doesn’t get bogged down with decisions or trying out new ideas. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and have to spend time fixing them.

He has a huge sense of urgency and doesn’t let anything (or anyone) get in his way.

Which means he works faster than others, and make more progress in an hour than some people make in a week.

Is this what it takes to make it big in business? In the beginning, when you’re trying to learn your business, meet people, and generate momentum, I’d say it is for many people. That’s what I did when I started practicing.

But when I got to a certain level of success, I took my foot off the accelerator a bit and did some other things.

Because I was not a monomaniac on a mission.

My friend has made many millions of dollars and reached the pinnacle of success in his industry. And while he’s branched out, too, he’s still very much focused on growing his business.

Just something to think about as you plan your week. And career.

Share