Your hobby can make you rich


We hear stories about the entrepreneur who turned their love for classic cars or cooking or tinkering with computers—their hobby—into a successful business. But that’s not the only way a hobby can make you rich. 

The other way, the way most of us will do it, is to use our hobby or outside interest as something we do solely because we enjoy it. It’s fun. Interesting. A way to relax and get away from the pressures and demands of our work and responsibilities. 

You work harder or smarter when you give your body and brain that break.

You like watching videos about your favorite sport or app or indulging in another so-called guilty pressure. When you’re stuck in traffic or a boring meeting, you want to take a mental vacation for a few minutes and think about something you’re looking forward to doing later.

Do it. Without guilt. For no other reason than you enjoy it. 

If you don’t, if you continually deny yourself because you have more work to do, more responsibilities to take care of, you might eventually come to resent your work. A brief respite can help you recharge and take the next lap. 

But don’t go in the other direction. You still have work to do.

Give yourself a few minutes at lunch or after work to read a chapter in your current novel or the sports page. Play a word game or shoot some bad guys after you’ve finished your research or made one more call.

Your hobbies may not literally make you rich, but if they make you happy, your life will be infinitely richer.



If you’re like me, you download or clip a large number of articles and other materials you plan to read, process, or use later. And, if you’re like me, you often fall behind. Even though you regularly process and/or purge your inbox, it always seems to get bigger.  

Like The Blob, it continually grows. And it’s coming to get you.   

To get this mess under control, one thing I’ve done for my notes and clippings is to set up multiple inboxes instead of putting everything into one. Smaller inboxes are less overwhelming, making it more likely I will get through them instead of avoiding them as I sometimes do when I’m tired or busy with other things.

It’s easier to get thorough 20 articles than it is to get through 200. 

Break your big inbox into smaller, more manageable chunks. Divide and conquer. 

You can do this with notes, email, articles you want to read, documents you need to go through, or anything else where you tend to fall behind. 

You might have separate inboxes for different clients or cases. Anything that comes in regarding Smith vs. Jones, for example, goes into its own inbox. When you’re working on that file, you have everything in one place and don’t need to find these notes or documents among 300 others in a general inbox. 

You might have separate inboxes for

  • Different clients
  • Major projects
  • Blog or newsletter ideas
  • General reading
  • Marketing or productivity articles (e.g., my emails)
  • The book you’re working on
  • Documents or correspondence to file
  • Items you need to review this week

When something comes in, it goes in the appropriate inbox. When you’re ready to work on that project or file, or you’re in the mood to read about a certain subject, you’ll have everything in one place and can get through it more quickly. 

You can also give the contents of a certain inbox to an assistant and let them do the processing and filing for you.

Another advantage is that sometimes you find you don’t need the contents of a certain inbox and don’t have to read the contents at all. When a project is completed or you decide to abandon it, for example, you can either delete all those new and unread articles or archive them for a later date. 

Productivity experts tell you to have as few inboxes as possible to make collection and processing easier. But when you’re falling behind and have a big backlog staring at you, I find that multiple inboxes is the way to go. 


What’s not on your list?


I do a pretty good job of writing down things I need to or want to do. I’m sure you do, too. But there are always things that don’t make it onto our list.

Things we didn’t think of when planned our week, chores we’ve been putting off and are piling up, things we know we should do but haven’t scheduled like contacting old clients or old friends.

Author Fumio Sasaki in his book Goodbye Things calls this your “silent to-do list”.

The problem is, if you add everything to your list, your list can become overwhelming.

Your days are booked “8-to-faint” cranking out billable work, keeping up with admin, and stoking the marketing fires to make sure everything continues. Which means you don’t have time or energy for other things like bigger projects that can advance your career, learning, or something none of us do enough of—resting.

There’s only one solution. Cut your lists down to the essentials to make room.

When you can see daylight on your calendar, when your lists aren’t crushing you with urgent deadlines, when you look at what’s planned for the day and feel good about getting it all done, you are running your life instead of your schedule running you.


For a change, you’re not constantly exhausted and stretched to the limit. You’re getting your priorities done and have time left to do other things.

What other things?

You can do other work if you feel like it, call old friends, or go for a walk. You can sit in the park with a novel you’ve been dying to read, or take a nap.

You’ll have the bandwidth to do things that are important but aren’t on a list. And they might be some of the most important things you do all day.


Better than digging ditches


A lot of lawyers love what they do. A lot don’t. A lot of the ones who don’t love it (or like it) do it because they make a decent living and don’t know what else to do.

If you find yourself in the latter group, if you’re okay with the job but aren’t passionate about it, one thing you might do is let go of the need to love everything and focus on the parts you do.

Love the money? That’s fine. Love helping people? Great. Love being able to use your brain and not get your hands dirty? That’s a win in my book.

But what about the things you really don’t like but feel you have to do?

You have a choice. You can find other ways to get the job done. Change your practice area, market, or clients. Change your marketing methods. Change your worklows and habits. Delegate the work you don’t like or aren’t good at.

Your other option is to change your mindset. How you feel and think about what you do. Maybe you don’t want partners or employees, but maybe you could make that work.

Reframe the boring parts or cringy parts by seeing them as a small but necessary means to an end. An end you truly want and are willing to make sacrifices to get.

And then focus on the things you do love and do more of them.

There will always be parts of the job you don’t like. You might not like getting up early, fighting through traffic, and arguing with people all day.

But some things are worth it.


Burned out and loving it


You’ve got way too much to do and you’re overwhelmed. You’re stressed out, perpetually tired, making mistakes, and alienating clients or staff, or you’re bored out of your mind and wondering why you’re still doing this.

It’s called a sign. A signal that something’s not right and you need to do something about it.

The good news is that when you do, there’s a very good chance you will come out the other end much better off. Productive, happy, centered, and far more successful.

So, when you get that signal, what should you do?

I don’t know. But you do. Or rather, your body and mind do and they will guide you. But whatever it is they want you to do, don’t do immediately, reflexively, impulsively.

Don’t be rash.

Write it down and see what you think and how you feel about it. Talk to people who care about you, or a pastor or therapist. Tell them what’s going on with you and let them help you work through it.

And then explore your options.

At various times of my career, most of the following have helped me get unstuck and go on to bigger and better things, and I’ll bet they can help you do the same:

  1. Exercise, get more sleep, eat better, take some time off; you will feel better and be able to think more clearly and that might be all you need to reset.
  2. Delegate more. If you’re like most lawyers, you do too much yourself. Give more work to others so you can focus on what you do best and enjoy.
  3. Get help. Hire a business coach to help you sort things out, focus on what’s important, let go of what isn’t, and hold you accountable. Or team up with another professional to share ideas, progress, encouragement, and accountability.
  4. Get a hobby. Or a girlfriend. Or a side business. Something else you can focus on that makes you happy and gives you something to look forward to.
  5. Follow the plan. After you get some rest, sort out your goals and your process, developed some new habits or jettisoned some bad ones, get back to work. Action is almost always the cure for what ails you.

But if nothing you do seems to work despite your best efforts, start looking for the next chapter in your life. I did that, too, and I’m very glad I did.

If you need someone to talk to, let me know


Stop the World, I Want to Get Off


When you’re anxious, stressed, frustrated, fed up, crying like a baby, or ready to hit something (or someone), and you don’t know what to do about it, I have a suggestion.

A little something called “a plan”.

Write down a goal, a deadline, and a list of steps you can take to achieve the goal.

The actual plan isn’t important. The act of planning, however, as Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said, is everything.

That’s because the act of planning helps us to clarify what we think, what we want, and what we need to do. It allows us to funnel our thoughts and emotions in a constructive direction.

The plan itself will change. Many times, no doubt. New ideas, new information, new feedback–the plan you ultimately follow often looks nothing like the plan you start with.

But at least you started. Something you might not have done without planning.

Planning has another benefit. For a few minutes at least, we get to assert a degree of control over our day. We get to decide what we’ll do, and when, what we won’t do, and why.

And it feels good.

Planning allows us to escape our burdens, feel empowered, and get excited about the future.

Some of us do a lot of planning. We love to make lists, re-arrange the items on it, and manage our lists with new apps and new systems.

We enjoy the planning process because it’s a way to avoid the harsh reality of the real world that.

Planning is a form of escapism.

Planning feels good because it doesn’t require a lot of effort, brain power, physical movement, tough decisions, or problem solving. It’s just our thoughts and a piece of paper.

Compared to “doing,” planning is just plain fun.

So, when the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, or you simply have too much to do and don’t know where to start, take a few minutes and create a plan, or grab your list and redo the existing plan.

You still have to take action, of course, but the act of planning will make that a lot easier because you’ll feel a lot better about where you are and where you’re going.

Here’s a plan to get more clients and increase your income


Questions are the answer


When we have a problem, we’re told not to focus on that problem but to focus on possible solutions. But we can’t do that without spending time thinking about the problem.

More specifically, asking ourself questions.

Questions like, What happened, Why did it happen, Who caused it, Who can help fix it, and especially, What can I do about it?

If the problem is a drop in business and you ask why it happened, right now your answer would no doubt include the shutdown. Many people aren’t doing anything about their legal problems now because they don’t have the money or the presence of mind to deal with them.

Is that a problem you can do something about? I don’t know, but asking THAT question might lead you to some ideas.

Asking the right questions helps us to focus on what we can do, instead of what we can’t do.

Questions like, What can I do to bring in new clients right now? What can I do to lower my expenses or increase my revenue? What can I do to set the stage for the future once things return to a semblance of normalcy?


What can I do or offer that other lawyers can’t or won’t? How can I position myself as the better solution? What can I do beyond my core services to attract and engage my ideal client? How can I become better known to my target market? How can I get more traffic and build my list? Where can I get more marketing ideas?

What if you don’t like the answers? Ask more questions.

Because questions are the answer. And because asking questions is better than stewing in negative thoughts.

Where do you go to find “next level” marketing strategies? Here


Does your life need more white space?


A writer was describing her quest to simplify her hectic life, to reduce her stress and manage her energy. She wanted more quiet time, time to reflect and recharge.

She said, “My life needed white space,” and I immediately understood what she meant.

Most of us are ridiculously busy. We run from appointment to appointment, from task to task.

Our plates are full and yet we continually look for more to heap on them.

We may break for lunch but we often work through it. After work we have errands and chores. Family time? Me time? We never have enough.

And the next day we do it all again.

No wonder we’re exhausted. No wonder we’re stressed.

We’re building these great lives but are we enjoying the lives we’re building?

The solution isn’t all that difficult. We don’t need to radically change our lives. All we need to do is put some space between the different parts of it.

Take a few minutes between appointments. Remove the clutter from your desktop. Work on one file at a time.

Do something unplanned. Make your next project something that feels good instead of whatever’s next on the list.

From time to time, come in to the office a little later or go home a little earlier. Take a long lunch. Go window shopping, go to the ocean, go for a walk.

Take more vacations. Stay a few days longer. Or take a stay-cation and pamper yourself.

And prepare yourself for the days ahead when you might feel pressured or overwhelmed or find yourself falling behind. Make an agreement with yourself that when that happens, you won’t fret or give in to the pressure.

You won’t work harder. You’ll take a break.

You’ll rest and recharge and reflect, even for a few hours or a few days, because that might be all you need.

And because knowing you can do that, in advance, might provide enough white space in your life that you’ll never have to.

Billing is stressful for many lawyers. This will help


RIP Grumpy Cat


Grumpy Cat died. You know, the cat with the down-turned mouth who looked like he was perpetually in a bad mood. The cat who inspired hundreds of Internet memes?

Yeah, that Grumpy Cat.

Question: when you’re a grumpy cat, what do you do about it?

You shouldn’t be around clients when you’re in a bad mood. It’s bad for business. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer.

Your employees might give you a little slack (because they have to), but they’d rather not have you in the office when you’re wearing the weight of the world on your shoulders.

When you have a sad or you’re feeling mad, what do you do?

Put on some music? Actually, that’s a good idea. Listen to some tunes that lift your spirits, or listen to some music that makes you sad–for some reason, that works, too.

If music doesn’t fix you up, if you’re still feeling like Lucy took your football, you’ve got to fake it. Pretend you’re in a good mood. Act as if.

Put on a (fake) smile and soon you’ll be smiling for realz.

If music and fake smiles don’t help, if you’re really bad off, leave. Flee the scene. Go home, go to a movie, go do some retail therapy.

Get out of the office for a few hours and get your head right.

Grumpy Cat was cute. Grumpy Lawyer, not so much.

How to get your clients to send you more referrals


Do you (still) work nights and weekends?


When I started practicing, even though I had few clients, I showed up at the office every day, including Saturdays. I spent most of that time setting up form files and writing form letters I could use once I got some new clients, and doing whatever I could think of to try to make that happen.

When I finally got some new clients, I started staying late at the office and bringing work home with me. I thought that’s what I had to do to make it and I was too scared to do anything else.

Maybe you are where I was. Maybe you’re working longer hours than you need to, or should. Even if you are getting things done and making money, at some point, you have to ask if this is the right way to go.

What if you set up some boundaries for yourself? What if you worked a full day but reserved your nights and weekends for yourself and your family? What if you actually scheduled took a vacation?

In the short term, as you work fewer hours, you’ll probably earn less income. In the long term, probably sooner than you think, you might see your practice explode, as mine did when I made the switch.

All work and no play really does make Jack a dull boy.

Start living a little. At night, on weekends, read novels, play games, take the kids to the park and toss a ball. If you don’t have kids, start making some. You’ll have the energy now, so get busy.

Leave your work at the office. Turn off your phone. Use your free time to get in shape. Start a hobby. Take a class or join a club. Not only will you have some fun, you’ll meet some new people (who share your interest) and have something to talk about besides work.

You’ll be more relaxed. More interesting. And have more energy. You’ll attract new friends, business contacts, and clients. You’ll have time to work on taking your practice to the next level.

You’ll earn more without working more. And finally realize that work isn’t the goal, it’s how you reach the goal.

How to earn more without working more: go here