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What’s wrong with this picture?

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I saw a post on Flakebook this morning that made me want to scream. It said, “If anybody needs to reach me today, I won’t be available until Noon.”

What’s wrong with that? It’s terrible posture.

It says, “I’m online most of the time because I’m not very busy. I’m not very busy because I’m not very good at my job and don’t have a lot of clients. I hope you need me and will contact me and give me some work. Please?”

Yes, you want clients and prospects to know that you can be reached if they need you, but not like this.

Let them know you have office hours. If there’s an emergency, they can reach you through an assistant or answering service (if you have that kind of practice). Otherwise, they should contact your assistant and see if they can help them. Or make an appointment to see you or speak to you. Or leave a message for you and you’ll get back to them as soon as your schedule permits.

Bad posture: Call me any time. Email me any time. Message me any time. And expect me to be available at any time.

Good posture: I’m busy. In high demand. My time is valuable. You can talk to me but you have to get in line and follow the rules.

If you’re not busy, don’t tell anyone. Nobody wants to hire an attorney that nobody else wants to hire.

If you are busy, let people know it. It will make them want you even more.

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My favorite productivity technique (this week)

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Of all the productivity techniques I use and talk about, one stands out as my favorite. I use it when I’m feeling overwhelmed by a project and don’t know what to do. I use it when I’m procrastinating, can’t focus, or I want to give up and go play.

It’s nothing new. Nothing I haven’t talked about before. It’s just something I use a lot when I feel stuck.

I used it recently with my Evernote account. (I just passed 10,000 notes, thank you, and revamped everything. I’ll talk about that later.)

Anyway, I’m calling this technique “going micro” and it has two elements.

The first element is to continually break things up into progressively smaller and smaller parts or steps until I find one that’s so small, I can’t NOT do it.

This is key. If you’re balking at updating your website, for example, pick a first task that’s so small it doesn’t feel like work.

That small first step might be gathering up all your notes on the subject and putting them in one place. I did that recently with a new project. It’s big and daunting and my eyes glaze over when I think about everything I have to do.

Break things up into tiny Kindergarten-simple action steps.

My first step was to put 107 notes about the project in a (temporary) new notebook. Small step, big victory. The project has begun.

My next step, also something so small I can’t not do it, is to sort through my notes, tag the important ones, and move the rest back into “gen pop,” i.e., move them back into my Reference notebook.

Easy. Simple. Done.

Next, I’ll go through the newly tagged important notes and make a “Master Project Note,” describing the project and listing all of the “Next Actions.”

You can bet that those next actions will also be small.

Small steps for the win.

The second element of “going micro” is to work in small increments of time. Five minutes to sort through my notes, for example.

Five minutes is something I can do. And because it’s “only” five minutes, it’s not something I will resist.

When five minutes is up, I might choose to continue working (for another 5 minutes), or do something else. I might choose another task in that project or I might do something fun or frivolous, to reward myself for being a good boy.

By giving yourself permission to stop working after 5 minutes, continuing to work becomes a choice, not a commitment. This lessons resistance and allows us to feel good about what we’re doing.

Anyway, it works for me and it’s my favorite productivity technique this week. Next week? Who knows.

My Evernote for Lawyers ebook

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Could you use an extra 20 hours a week?

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Ramit Sethi, author of “I Will Teach You To Be Rich,” described his number one productivity “tool” and how it saves him 20 hours a week.

What would you do with an extra 20 hours?

He said he’d tried all the tips and hacks, tools and apps, everyone hears about. Some worked, some stuck, but nothing he tried did more for him than save a few minutes here and there.

“I needed to save more than just a few minutes — I needed to free up 2+ hours a day,” he said. “And we all know that working harder isn’t the solution.”

I’m liking where this is going. How about you?

Sethi continued:

The most successful people have something in common: People who can help them — a personal trainer, a business coach, a supportive spouse.

I realized I had money but not time — and that, with this money, I could “buy back” my time.

That’s when I hired an assistant.

He then details all of the things his assistant does for him. It’s a long list.

As soon as I read this, I thought about how I was at my most productive when I had people working for me. I could power through a big stack of files and get a lot of work out the door in a matter of minutes.

Decide what I want or need. Dictate. Done.

My secretary would type, make calls and take calls and a crap-ton more. It freed me up to do what I do best.

Yep. Delegation. It allowed me to earn more and work less. To work smarter, not harder.

If you don’t have anyone working for you right now, a good place to start is by hiring a virtual assistant. I’ve mentioned before that attorney Gordon Firemark has a VA in the Philippines that costs him a whopping $75 per week and she works for him full-time.

Full friggin time.

She updates his websites, edits videos, posts on his blog, assists with his podcast, and so on, freeing him up to work with clients and marketing. “I get to have dinner with my kids almost every night,” he said.

That’s what I’m talking about.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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What’s the big idea?

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Think big. Act small. That’s the ticket to success.

Thinking big means setting big goals and finding big ideas to achieve them.

If you want to triple your income in the next 12-18 months, you can’t rely on small ideas to help you get there. You need big, hairy, audacious ideas. Things you’ve never done before.  Things that simultaneously excite you and scare the hell out of you.

Here’s a test to see if you have a good candidate: when you share your idea with someone who cares about you, they either laugh at it or try to talk you out of it. Or both.

(They do this because (a) they don’t want to see you get hurt, or, (b) they don’t want to see you succeed, because your success diminishes them.)

Big goal. Check. Big idea. Check. Now what?

Now you execute. You do the little tasks that advance your idea and move you towards your goal.

We live our lives minute to minute, day to day. The little things we do each minute create momentum towards our goals. It’s the only way we can get there.

You can’t triple your income in the next few minutes but you can do something that moves you forward.

Think big, act small. That’s how you get where you want to go.

What’s your big goal? What’s your big idea? What will you do in the next two minutes?

You can triple your income by bringing in more referrals

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Stay in audit mode

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You’ve started something on your list and realize you would rather do something else.

Do it.

It’s your list and you can (and should) re-write it whenever you want.

Sure, you want to get things done. But you have to be flexible about what you do and when you do it. You’re the boss. Don’t fight with your list.

Gary Vaynerchuk said,

People might be surprised by this: Even though I run a $200 million agency, I’m an obnoxious procrastinator.

But I also get a lot done.

I stay in constant “audit mode.” I’m always leveling up what’s most important and prioritizing it in real time. I’m adjusting to the reality of my life in the moment I’m living it.

Vaynerchuk is a busy guy. He has his finger in a lot of business pies and doesn’t worry about what he’s working on at any given moment.

“As long as I’m executing on something every single day, I know I’m moving the needle. I don’t get crippled by the amount of things I “need” to do, or the number of priorities I have.”

He doesn’t fight his tendency to procrastinate he embraces it and uses it his advantage.

Don’t prioritize your lists in advance. Stay in constant audit mode and prioritize in the moment.

Need clients? Start here

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What’s wrong with this email?

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I got an email from someone who calls himself a “wealth manager and financial advisor”. Apparently, we’re connected on LinkedIn because his email begins, “Hi David. We’re connected on LinkedIn. . .”

He said, “I wanted to reach out to you personally and share important information on some of the recent Tax Changes for 2018 for Business Owners. Please enjoy this short video and give us a call if we can better assist you with your Financial and Estate Planning questions.”

What’s wrong with his approach? His email?

Is it that he oddly capitalized “Tax Changes for Business Owners” and “Financial and Estate Planning”?

Is he trying to impress me by making what he does look more important?

Ooh, he doesn’t just handle estate planning, he handles Estate Planning. He must be good.

Is it that he begins by saying, “I wanted to reach out to you personally. . .” and then says, “give US a call if WE can better assist you”?

We? What happened to “I”? Is he a member of the Royal Family?

Okay, these aren’t deal killers. But they aren’t unimportant. Little things make a difference, especially when you’re writing to a professional nit-picker.

I like that he’s offering information that might be valuable to me. (I didn’t watch the video, so I don’t know.) I liked that he didn’t tell me all about himself and his practice. He provided a link to his website under his signature so I could learn more about him and his practice.

I also liked that he mentioned our being connected on LinkedIn so I would know where he got my name and wouldn’t think he was spamming professionals and business owners he finds on the Internet.

But that’s exactly what his email makes it look like he’s doing.

If he had read my profile, he would know I’m an attorney or a professional, not a business owner. Wait, Business Owner. Okay, I’m also a business owner, but he didn’t do anything to personalize his message so it looks like junk mail.

He didn’t mention anything we have in common. He didn’t say anything about my business or website. He didn’t say anything about one of my posts he liked.

Had he done any of those things, I might have watched his video or visited his website. Who knows where that might lead.

But he didn’t. So I deleted his email and will never find out if he’s someone worth talking to about financial planning or how we might work together.

A cautionary tale.

Cold emails (and calls) are a viable way to build a professional practice. Even when you send them to people who aren’t social media connections.

But if you make no effort to personalize your email or connect with the recipient, you’re just wasting electrons.

How to use email to build your practice

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Eliminate and grow rich

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If you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, if your to-do list is never-ending and continually growing, if your “someday/maybe” list has cobwebs growing on it, the 80/20 rule can help.

Remember, it says, “a minority of causes, inputs, or efforts usually lead to a majority of the results, outputs or rewards.” So, the first thing to do is go through your lists and identify your 20%-ers.

You can do this in one sitting, once a month, or once a day.

Ask yourself, “What can I do today (this week, soon, next) that will deliver the biggest results?” or “What can I focus on right now that will bring me closer to achieving my most important goal?”

NB: The answer will often be something you’ve been putting off.

The next step: take everything else and eliminate it.

Delete or delegate. Or, if you are having trouble letting go of things, bury them–in another app, another file, or somewhere else you won’t see them.

Eliminating things is difficult for most people but it is key to achieving extraordinary results in your life. In Essentialism, Greg McKeown said, “It’s about making the trade-off between lots of good things and a few really great things.”

And you need time to do the really great things.

Warren Buffett put it this way: “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

What can you say no to today?

Say yes to referrals

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Clients won’t hire you until this happens

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Last week, I talked about why you shouldn’t worry about repeating yourself in your newsletter or blog. I pointed out that new people continually join your list or visit your blog and haven’t seen what you wrote before. I said you might talk about the same subject but use different (and more compelling) arguments or examples.

An astute reader, (thanks, Michael), reminded me that I neglected to mention one of the most important reasons, that when a reader hears your message the first time, they may not be ready to hear it, or ready to take action.

Clients won’t hire you until they’re ready. And there are a lot of reasons why they might not be ready the first time you talk about a subject.

They may not understand what you said the first time they read it or realize that it applies to them.

They may not trust you yet or understand how you can help them solve their problem. They may be in denial about the risks they are facing and need to hear more information.

They may think they can’t afford to hire you and need the problem to worsen before they’re willing to take the next step. They may need time to “find” the money and hearing your message again might be just the impetus they need to do it.

There are many reasons why someone might not be ready, willing, or able to hire you when they read your message the first time or the 21st time.

That assumes they actually received and read your previous message(s), something that may or may not be true.

Stay in touch with your clients and prospects and don’t worry about repeating yourself. Repeating yourself may be exactly what you need to do because clients won’t hire you (again) until they’re ready and they aren’t ready until they’re ready.

How to bring in more business with a newsletter or blog

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Sprint and grow rich

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How many emails do you typically get in a day? And how much time do you spend processing them and responding?

My guess: too many emails and too much time. Time that could be spent doing more important things.

And then there’s the time we spend checking our inbox, to see what’s new. I just learned that the average is 88 times per day. Yikes.

We’re drawn to the inbox because we know it might contain something urgent or threatening, or, at the other end of the spectrum, something pleasurable or distracting.

We’re addicted to checking.

The problem is that each time we check our inbox, we lose time switching from the task we were doing before to the email and then back again. How much time? Up to twenty minutes. Yikes.

Now you know why an entire day can go by and you feel like you got nothing done.

No doubt you’ve heard about the habit of checking email just once or twice a day, at pre-determined times. That can help. When you check, make sure you have the time and energy to deal with what’s come in.

Consider doing an “email sprint”. Set a timer for 15 or 20 minutes, get through as many emails as possible, and stop. That should leave you time to work on anything that’s urgent or important.

Oh yeah, you should probably do the same thing with social media. Just saying.

How about a referral sprint?

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If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 100 times

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I used to make an effort to avoid repeating myself in my newsletter and blog. In fact, I once set up a “reverse editorial calendar” to record topics and the dates of each post.

Not anymore.

Aside from the fact that it’s too much work for my sorry azz, it isn’t necessary. It’s okay to repeat yourself.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this very topic before. Maybe more than once. No doubt I’ll do it again.

Here’s why I don’t worry about repeating myself, and why you shouldn’t, either:

  • Every day, new people join your list and, to them, the topic is new
  • Most subscribers don’t remember seeing the topic before, or if they do, they don’t remember the details.
  • You might make the same point but cite different facts, arguments or examples.
  • You might update something you said before, providing new results, additional information or feedback from others
  • If you’re like me (and you are), you change your mind about things, so update away.
  • Some ideas are important enough that they bear repeating.
  • Some ideas are important enough that they bear repeating. See?

Anyway, if you ask me, you shouldn’t worry about what you did yesterday, last month, or last year. Write what’s on your mind today and you’ll be just fine.

Need more ideas for blog posts and emails? This will help

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