I quit! 


I start a lot of books, articles, and videos, I never finish. I start a lot of projects and abandon them. I download a lot of apps and delete them in seconds.

I guess you could call me a serial quitter. 

If you do, I’ll say ‘thank you’ because quitting is smart. A productive use of our time. 

When you try things, you get ideas for other projects that are quicker or easier or a better fit. I get a lot of ideas for content that way. 

Trying lots of things helps you confirm that what you’re already doing is “good enough” and you don’t need to spend more time on something new. I do that with apps all the time.  

You learn things you can use with the things you currently do. You may find a better way to organize your notes or tasks, for example, by watching videos about other apps or what others do with them.

When you start a project, you learn whether you enjoy working on it, or whether it will succeed. If you don’t try, you may continue thinking about it when you would be better off moving on. 

You may start something, like it, but realize that now isn’t the time to do it and put that project on hold for the future, giving you time to plan and collect more information you can use when you’re ready to dive in. 

Trying new things can also be a pleasant distraction from your regular work. It may or may not lead to something, but it is a productive use of your time because it might. 

In fact, I just read about a productivity expert who makes “quitting” his default. He starts a lot of things with the express intention of not finishing them. 

By quitting a lot of things, he has time for the best ideas. Sometimes, he finds them right away. Sometimes, they stick with him after he’s quit, and he goes back to them. 

If you’re still not convinced of the value of quitting, think about what would happen if you never quit. You’d be overwhelmed with projects and ideas that eventually go nowhere. 

Quit fast and avoid the mess. 


Sorry, I don’t want to live out of my calendar


Let’s talk about your schedule. The things you put on your calendar, like appointments, conference calls, court appearances, and other time-bound tasks. Things you need to do on a certain day and at a certain time.

Not a lot to say about that. You schedule them so you don’t forget them and you do them. 

But what about everything else? 

What about things you want to do or need to do at some point, perhaps soon, but not necessarily today or this week? What about routine tasks you need to do to keep the wheels greased and the motor running? 

Some people put those on their calendar, too. They schedule time for their morning routine, for example, or block out time during the day to work on a certain project. 

Some people schedule everything. 

They know what they’re going to do today, tomorrow, this week and next. Sometimes, down to the minute.

This is a great way to get things done, but it’s not for me.

What do I do?

I calendar appointments and meetings, of course, but for everything else, I make lists.

Every day, my task app gives me today’s list (based on what I decided to do during a weekly review). At the top are the “must do” tasks, e.g., appointments, etc., and anything else I need to do that day. What you’re reading right now is one of those things. 

Under the must do’s are other things I should do or want to do today, but not necessarily at a specific time. Nor are they “must do’s” so I can do them the next day or in the days to come. 

Finally, there are my routine tasks. Things I try to do every day (or week).

It’s a simple list and, other than appointments and must do’s, everything is a suggestion. 

Actually, it is a very sensible way of working.

I don’t force myself to do anything “now” (unless it’s a must do). I can do it later. 

As long as you do what you need to do, it doesn’t matter when you do it, does it? (If it does matter, it should indeed go on the calendar.)

By the end of the day, I usually finish most of the things on my list. Not everything, but that’s okay. Tomorrow or next week are okay.

If you want to try this, here are some guidelines: 

  1. Make your list for tomorrow the night before, after you’ve looked at tomorrow’s calendar.
  2. Keep this list short. A few things, not everything. 
  3. Keep a second list of things you want to do this week (or so). Keep this short, too. 
  4. If you finish today’s list and have time and energy to do more, look at “this week” and choose something else. 
  5. Keep additional lists for daily, weekly, and monthly routines. Reference these when you make tomorrow’s list or let an app remind you.  

Working this way allows me to stay productive without pushing myself to do more than I can do, and flexible enough to keep me getting things done.

But maybe tomorrow.  


Slow down to speed up


Yesterday, I talked about the advantages of following a non-linear workflow, that is, working when and how your body and brain tell you is right instead of slavishly following the calendar. 

Among other things, this means taking breaks when you feel you need them, and not feeling guilty because you’re doing that “too often”. 

Taking breaks also gives you the opportunity to evaluate what you’re doing, and how you’re doing it, and make improvements. You’ll be able to see things you might not have seen because you’ve been too busy doing the work. 

If you continually run from one project or case to the next one, your practice or business is running you instead of the other way around. 

You want to go faster and grow bigger, but you can’t do that if you’re constantly running. You need breaks so you can evaluate what you’re doing, make improvements, or change course. 

Maybe you need to do something different on that project, or put it aside in favor of another. Maybe you need to let go of doing everything yourself and get some help so you can free up some time and energy for projects that are more in line with your goals and purpose. 

Periodically slow down (or stop). Go through your projects, your cases, your client list, and your plans. Stand down for a day or a week and figure out what you can do better or instead.  

When you get back to work, you’ll be able to go faster.

Success isn’t just about doing the work to the best of your ability. It’s also about doing the work that best serves your future. Sometimes, you need to back away and figure out what that means.


How was your day?


I didn’t do much work yesterday. I meditated, wrote a blog post, took a walk, helped my wife set up a cabinet, watched a couple of videos (and took notes), read a few pages in a book, and not much else.

Because I didn’t feel like doing anything else.  

Some call this being lazy. You won’t get anything done if you don’t do the work, whether you feel like it or not. Breaks are for after work, weekends, and vacations, not when you feel like it. Get more sleep if you need more energy. Stop goofing off. 

Conventional “wisdom”. 

But not everyone agrees. 

Some describe this as an effective way to structure your time. It’s “nonlinear,” meaning flexible and in sync with what your body and brain tell you. If you’re getting things done, it doesn’t matter how or when you do them. 

9 to 5 is for suckers. 

According to one study, people with the highest “brain health scores,” which include memory, focus, sleep, mood, productivity, and creativity, are those who follow a flexible schedule. 

Yes, I know this isn’t conducive to trial work or being available to see clients when clients need to be seen, but even the busiest of lawyers can work around those limitations, at least some of the time. 

And they should. Because, according to the study, not only is this better for your brain, it’s a better predictor of overall happiness. 

And I’ll take happiness any day of the week. 


Start with what, not how


I’m guilty of this myself. Trying to figure out how to do something or improve something when that’s the wrong question to start with.

The right question is, “What do I want?“

Because when you know what you want (to be, do, or have), you can almost always figure out how.

Asking “how“ before you know “what“, often leads to wasting time on less important projects or goals.

Finding solutions without a problem.

Example? You’re trying to figure out how to set up a new website. All your energy is dedicated to looking for ways to do that, or finding people who can do it for you.

If you had first asked, “What do I want?” you might have realized that you want more opt-ins to your email list, and while a new and improved website might help, there are other things you can do to get what you want that don’t require a new website.

“What” is more important than “how”.

If you’re not sure of what you want, or even if you are, a good follow-up question to ask yourself is “why?” Why do I want that? Why is it important to me?

The answer to that question will confirm that what you said you want is indeed important and valuable to you, (or it isn’t), and provide you with the motivation to move forward.

Why do you want more opt-ins? Because this is a simple way to get what I want: more clients from the visitors to my website.

First, figure out WHAT you want (and why). Then, figure out HOW to get it.

Email marketing for attorneys


Tending to your digital garden


What would you do if you opened your task app and found it empty? No tasks, no projects, no ideas—nothing. (And you don’t have a backup.)

Would you panic? Not be able to do any work. Or would you see it as an opportunity to make a new and better list?

That’s what I would do.

In fact, periodically, that’s exactly what I do. I put all my tasks and projects out of sight and build a new list from scratch. The new list is, of course, much shorter than the original. Which is the point. The new list contains the most important things I know I have to do. No fluff, no busy work.

Just the essentials.

Once I’ve created the new list from memory, I go through the old lists and add a few things to the new list I’d forgotten. But only a few. The point of this exercise is to get rid of the clutter so I can focus (and do) the most important tasks and work on the most valuable projects.

My re-constituted list is a joy to look at and work through. Because it isn’t a never-ending mass of “too many,” it’s a lean sprinkling of “just right”.

I do something similar with my notes. I have too many to do this much housecleaning, but I regularly archive old notes, eliminate duplicates, and organize notes that relate to current, upcoming, or ongoing projects.

And I suggest you do the same.  

The best time to do this is when you start using a new app. It feels good to populate your shiny new app with the things that are most important to you.

If you’re not not changing apps, or you’re not sure about doing this, start with your someday/maybe list. You know, that dumping ground of ideas you told yourself you want to get to one day. Be ruthless, here. Cut out most of them. (If it’s something you really want to do someday, it will find its way back onto your list).

When you reduce the digital clutter in your life, it helps you identify your priorities and focus on them. You do your most important work, your day is likely shorter and less stressful, and you have peace of mind knowing you’re on top of your work.

You’re doing what’s important, not just staying busy.



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. 



Where did I put that?


I was at the DMV the other day to renew my license. I had the letter with the details in my pocket. 

Yeah, paper. 

It got me thinking about the notes app in my phone where I can call up most of my work and personal notes. I didn’t scan the DMV letter, but I if I had, I’d be able to retrieve it almost as quickly as the letter in my pocket.

And that got me thinking about the many ways we can organize our notes and docs and find them when we need to. 

So, I made a list:  

  • Search/Saved Search
  • Folders/Notebooks
  • Tags/Labels/File Number
  • Links/Backlinks
  • External Links, e.g., from a task manager or reminders app
  • Shortcuts/Stars/Hot List
  • Indexes/Maps of Content 
  • Alphabetically

Did I miss any? 

I use (or have used) most of these. Clearly, the more ways we have available to find things, the better. But to use these methods properly, we need to do something to our notes to make them findable, i.e., we need to add labels or hyperlinks, or add them our shortcuts. Even if you primarily rely on search, you need to make sure your notes have the right keywords or other metadata. 

Recently, I added another option, a WIP folder, which lives at the bottom of the list of folders in my notes app. I use this for short-term works in progress—writing, research, decisions I need to make—or for an upcoming call or meeting or doctor’s appointment. This is where I would have stored the DMV letter if I had digitized it. 

I generally keep only 5 or 10 items in this folder, which means I can quickly find what I need without adding tags or keywords in advance. 

What’s next? AI, no doubt, which should soon be smart enough to bring us things before we even know we need them.  

Like my secretary did back in the day. 


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