What’s important to you?


I was interviewed recently by the vendor of one of the marketing tools I use in my business. They wanted to know what I do, how I work, and especially how I use their product. 

As we talked, I realized that what was most important to me about this tool, or any tool, was how easy it is to use. 

The same goes for my process. I don’t like complicated workflows. Sometimes, they are necessary, but I like to keep things as simple as possible. 

Simplicity is one of my values. 

I told the interviewer how important this is for what I do, and for the tools I use to do it. Some of their competitors have more features, but they are overkill for me. 

So, if you’re trying to sell me your product or service, show me how easy it is to use. Because if it’s too complicated, it’s probably going to be a no for me. 

You may have different values, and you should explore them. It helps to know what’s important to you, before you buy something you may never use or hire someone who might be good at their job but otherwise not a good fit for you. (Been there, done that; lesson learned.)

It’s also important to find out what’s important to your prospective clients, so that when you talk to them about how you can help them, you’re telling them what they want to hear.

It makes a difference if a client wants to “crush” the other party and is willing to spend big money to accomplish that, or they want a reasonably amicable resolution at modest expense. 

Find out what’s important to them so you can show them how they can get it. 




Building a business or law practice, especially from scratch, is best done quickly.

If you want to build yours, run, don’t walk. Sprint, don’t jog.

Here’s why:

  • Building fast gives you less time to think and more time to do. Once you have some sound marketing strategies in place, spend most of your time executing those strategies, not refining your plans or making new ones.
  • Building quickly means you’ll talk to more people, create more content, get more subscribers, do more presentations, and so on. You’ll have more opportunities to find things that work and get better at doing them.
  • Building quickly allows you to compress time, that is, to do in minutes what might otherwise take hours, by finding ways to do things faster and by productively using the spaces between activities that are often wasted.
  • Moving quickly forces you to adopt routines and simple daily activities, which are the building blocks for success.
  • Whether you are new or seasoned, the faster you move, the sooner you find bigger cases and/or better clients and referral sources (and employees), which lead to compound growth as first time clients become repeat clients and referrals lead to more referrals.
  • Moving quickly allows you to create personal momentum. You get faster (and better) at what you do, delivering more outcomes to more clients and bringing in more revenue and more success stories, which leads to more of the same.
  • Moving quickly allows you to discover flaws and eliminate them, make mistakes and fix them, and get better at what you do.
  • Fast is exciting, and excitement is contagious. You’ll be perceived in the marketplace as someone who is going places and doing things and attract people who recognize your pace and energy and want to work with you.

Don’t confuse “fast” with “busy”. They aren’t the same thing. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being productive.

You can build quickly even if you aren’t particularly busy. But only if when you work, you run.

How to build your practice bigger, faster


The best productivity tools and systems


If you’re like me, you enjoy watching videos about different productivity tools and systems.

That doesn’t mean we’re unhappy with what we’re currently using. Just that we’re open to new ideas and enjoy learning things we can use with our current setup.

And we’re curious. We like seeing what others use. Even how they have set up their workspace.

It’s fun. A pleasant respite from a hectic day.

And sometimes, it leads us to make a switch to a different tool or system, which increases our productivity and enjoyment.

But how do you know when you’ve found the right tool or system?

Actually, I have an answer. A rule of thumb I found languishing in my notes. I don’t know who said it but I wrote it down because it makes so much sense.

The system or tool that’s best (for you) is the one you don’t have to think about.

It just works. Seamlessly. Comfortably. You turn it on or open the page and go.

You don’t feel any friction. Or compelled to change anything. You’re busy doing what the tool or system helps you do.

And when you found it, you knew it was “the one”.

The app, operating system, or process that is a perfect fit. You don’t need to look at anything else.

But (if you’re like me) you will. Because you might find something you like better. Or learn something you can use.

And because it’s fun.


Addition vs. subtraction


In a recent newsletter, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, offered a different way to think about how to planning your time. He said

“If you’re searching for more time this year, start with a clean slate and choose what to add to your days rather than starting with a full schedule and trying to figure out what to eliminate.“

Pretend you’re just starting out. In life or in your practice. What are a few must haves for you? If you had those, what else would you want?

You can also use this approach to re-build your project or task list, your budget, or your goals. Start with a clean slate and add things that are most important to you. If you could only work on one major project this year, for example, what would it be?

You can also use this to simply the list of tools you use to do your work.

I currently use 3 different note-taking apps. I like them all and use all 3 daily, for slightly different purposes. If I wanted to simplify my workflow, it would be difficult for me to choose which app or apps to eliminate.

If I was starting from scratch, however, I know which one I’d start with.

Truth be told, I’m sure I would soon be back to using all 3. Which is okay with me. At least I would have made a conscious decision to do that instead of continuing to do it out of habit.

If you’re rebuilding your marketing mix, start here


Better notes


There’s a lot being said right now about how to take more effective notes. It’s all good, but it can be overwhelming trying to implement everything.

If I could give you one piece of advice on this subject, it would be this:

Use the notes you take as soon as you take them.

Use them immediately in an article, on a case, or in planning your projects or your day. And if that’s not possible, annotate them to use later.

Summarize what you read or heard. Put the ideas in your own words. Add notes to your notes that provide context–what you think, examples that explain and expand on the points, or contrast them.

In short, make notes, don’t just take notes. Your notes will thus be more valuable to you when you eventually use them.

It might help to make a habit to record (at least) 3 key points for every note. I did that recently when I read an article about best practices for extending the life of your laptop battery. As soon as I finished the article, I wrote:

  • It’s okay to keep the laptop plugged in all the time
  • Draining the battery does more harm than good
  • Heat is the enemy; keep the laptop/battery cool

I also recommend writing down how you might use those notes in the future, e.g.., for a case or client, in a book or blog post or presentation, to improve your website, to add to a form letter, etc. Add tags or links or move them to the appropriate folder.

Do it while it’s fresh. If you wait until later, you might forget what you thought and have to start from scratch.


The productivity hack we learned in kindergarten 


Walk into any kindergarten school room and you’ll see a simple strategy in use you can use today to be more productive.

No, I don’t mean having a big person watching over you and making sure you do what you’re supposed to do (or have you stand in the corner if you don’t). I also don’t mean asking for permission to go to the little person’s room.

Look around the classroom. What do you see on the walls? You see a calendar, the letters of the alphabet and how to write them. You see pictures of animals, historical figures, famous monuments, and other things the kids are learning.

Okay, maybe this wasn’t kindergarten, but you remember this kind of thing from grammar school, don’t you? Today, you might do the same thing by keeping visual reminders of important information in front of you—your to-do list, your calendar, quotes that inspire you, a reminder to pick up some milk on your way home.

Visual cues of things you want to remember, on a whiteboard, sticky note, or on your desk calendar. At a glance, you can see what’s important right now, and what’s coming up soon.

Maybe you do this digitally. You have lists and notes in front of you, in an app that stays open or a pop-up on your screen, or sent to you via email or text message.

Either way, you keep your lists in front of you so you always know what to do.

I’ve just planned out some projects I want to do this year. I have them all on a single page in my task app, with Kanban-like columns (like Trello), one for each quarter. At a glance, I can see the four projects I have planned for the first quarter, one for the second quarter, two for the third quarter, and nothing yet for the fourth quarter.

This page is always one click away, on my laptop and phone, and I check it often.

Of course I also have the app remind me to work on Project X or Task Y (for project X) on days I’ve designated to do these things.

In other words. . . I don’t keep anything in my head.

It’s all in my “trusted system” which does the remembering and reminding for me. Because, as Mr. Allen reminds us, “your mind is for having ideas, not holding them”.


Me in ‘23


As one does at this time of year, I’m spending a lot of time thinking about next year. One thing I’m planning to do is to read more books.

I always loved books. Always had one or two by my side, ready to pick up and teach me something, or take me somewhere. For a long time, though, I’ve been reading a lot less. I spend so much of my day reading other things, I haven’t felt like I had enough energy to pick up a book.

Many very successful people are big book readers. As busy as they are, Mark Cuban and Warren Buffett spend several hours a day reading books, for example, and credit a good portion of their success to this habit.

Why books? Can’t we get as much from reading articles, watching videos, or listening to podcasts?

We can (and I do) get a lot from those sources, but books are in a category of their own.

Books tend to be better researched and better written. They provide more value, usually, and are worth the additional effort. True, there are many disappointments, but when you read a good book, it can change your life.

I have quite a backlog of books waiting for me to “find” the time to read again. But I’ve grown tired of waiting and started reading books again a couple of months ago.

I began by reminding myself about the benefits and made a commitment to myself to read at least a few pages every day.

Without exception.

Small, but often—the key to starting and maintaining habits.

I set a daily reminder in my task app and read for ten minutes every day, no matter what. When the timer is done, I often continue reading, but I never read for less than ten minutes.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have started this, or stuck with it, if I had tried to read for one hour a day. But I can do ten minutes no matter how busy or tired I am.

It’s like the office decluttering project I told you about recently. Scheduling 15 minutes every Saturday allowed me to (finally) start that project and keep going until finished.

I also make it convenient. I read mostly on the Kindle app on my phone so I can grab a few minutes just about anywhere. I’ve started walking again so I might also start listening to audiobooks.

You can read a lot of books in just 10 minutes a day. Certainly a lot more than I was reading before. But, who knows. Maybe next year I’ll go crazy and crank that up to 15 minutes.

Life in the fast lane.


Want to be more productive? Stop working so hard.


“Successful people work hard.” It says so on the internet so it must be true.

Not so fast.

Recent studies show that pushing yourself to do more work isn’t necessarily the path to success. What is?


Doing work you love, being around people you respect, taking time to relax and have fun—it turns out these are at least as important as cranking out more hours and completing more tasks.

Maybe more so.

Because when we’re happy, we are more creative and productive, without all the wear and tear that comes from putting in more hours.

“The driving force seems to be that happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality.” — Dr. Daniel Sgroi

Now, maybe long hours and checking off more tasks each day is precisely what makes you happy. You like being busy. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

That’s fine.

Just make sure you also take some downtime. Put it on your calendar.

Because it might make you even more productive.


Taking inventory


I watched a video about tasks, tools, and processes for creatives and thought the information was helpful for lawyers. Helpful because it provides a framework for thinking about your work and how you can do it more efficiently and with better results.

We’re told that tasks fall into 4 types of categories, Administrative, Consumption, Documentation, and Creative, and as I thought about what I do in my work in this context, I starting thinking about what I could eliminate, delegate, automate, speed up, or otherwise improve. You might do the same.


Administrative tasks include calendaring, conflict management, bookkeeping, client communication, website updates, file management, HR, individual task management, and so much more.

We spend a significant percentage of our day doing or managing these tasks; they are the most obvious category to delegate or automate.


Cases, articles, books, blogs, courses, podcasts, newsletters, videos, seminars—it’s a long list.

You can streamline this category by cutting out some sources of material you regularly turn to, subscribing to services or newsletters that curate this information for you, more audio and less text, and by assigning the “first pass” for some of this content to someone who works for you.


This includes taking notes on client matters, and notes on the other material you consume, recording ideas, storing documents, and the software and systems you use to retrieve this information.


This is your output—how you get paid. It includes your legal work—drafting, negotiating, writing, speaking—and everything you do for marketing.

You might not want to delegate all of this, but you can get help with research, investigation, first drafts, editing, and follow-ups.

As you consider these categories, think about your situation and what you want to improve. Go through a typical week or month and document what you do.

  1. Tasks. Brainstorm every function performed by you and the people who work for you (or outsources).
  2. Tools. Note the software and hardware you use on the computer, browser extensions, phone apps, paper and folders, etc. It also includes forms, templates, checklists, reminders, and more.
  3. Processes. How you do what you do. This will take the most time to document, but is likely to deliver the most benefits.

If you don’t want to do all this right now, at least use this as a checklist to think about how you use your time and what you could do to use it better.


A penny for your thoughts


Lawyers are paid to think. We solve problems, come up with ideas, figure out strategies, and put these to use for our clients and for ourselves.

We often get some of our best ideas while we’re doing other things. When we’re working on another case, driving, playing a game, listening to a (boring) lecture, or mindlessly washing dishes, our minds are busy working on other things.

But we don’t have to wait for serendipity to solve problems and generate ideas. We can make it a habit to schedule thinking time each day. I do that every day and think you should, too.

Once a day, for 5 minutes or 15 minutes, sit quietly, close your eyes, do some breathing exercises if you want to, relax and think.

Think about your life, your work, your family, your problems, your dreams.

I do this in the morning, first thing. Before coffee, when my mind isn’t terribly engaged, I sit in my comfy chair, listen to meditation music, and let my mind wander.

My thinking time helps me discover new ideas, find solutions, clarify my thoughts, remember things I need to do or fix, and when I’m done, I feel calm and centered and ready for the day.

Sometimes, I start out thinking about a specific situation. A problem I’d like to solve or avoid, a goal I’m working towards, or things I’m planning to do that day. Other times, I just sit quietly and let my mind take me where it wants me to go.

I keep paper and my phone nearby and record my thoughts and ideas. Sometimes, those ideas feel so “right,“ I stop thinking and start working on them. These often turn out to be some of my best ideas.

I’ve also found that by having regular thinking time, I’ve conditioned my mind to bring me more ideas and solutions throughout the day, while I’m doing other things.

I got the idea for this post when I was making coffee.

You’re a professional thinker. Schedule thinking time each day. Try it for a week, see what happens, and what you think about that.

I think. . . you’ll be glad you did.