What would you do with an extra hour a day?

If you had an extra hour a day available what would you do with it?

More client work?

More marketing and practice building activities?

More time off?

Would you start a new business project? Work on your hobby? Get in shape? Write a book?

It would be nice, wouldn’t it? It could be life-changing.

But it’s not going to happen. You’re never going to find an hour a day in your busy schedule.

Unless you decide to.

If you do, here are some questions to ask yourself that could help you free up that time:

  • Look at your calendar and task list. What do you regularly do that you could safely stop doing or cut back on? Yesterday, I talked about eliminating unnecessary expenses. Why can’t you do the same thing with your time?
  • What project are you working on you could indefinitely defer?
  • What could you outsource or delegate? (Give this a lot of thought; it could free up days, not hours.)
  • What could you do more quickly by improving your skills, acquiring tools or tech, or streamlining your work-flow or systems?
  • What content, marketing collateral, or work product could you re-purpose or re-use (so you don’t have to spend time creating more)?
  • What marketing activities (networking, presentations, podcasting, videos) could you eliminate, shorten, or replace with something simpler and less time-consuming?
  • Do you have any services or practice areas that take up a disproportionate amount of your time and focus (and could be eliminated)?
  • What meetings could you eliminate or shorten? What boards or committees could you step down from?
  • Could you shorten the commute to your office? Could you work from home or a second office a couple of days a week?

It’s important to ask yourself these questions because you might like the answers.

And because one hour a day is 250 hours per year.

Extra.

What would you do with that time?

If you want some help finding an extra hour per day, let me know.

Inbox zero problem–solved

I’ve been pretty good about maintaining inbox zero, that is, cleaning out my email inbox every day (or two).

Things I can do quickly, I do. Things that require more time or I want to save I forward to Evernote. Everything else gets trashed or archived.

Lately, I found myself getting behind. A lot. To the point that I didn’t want to look at my inbox anymore.

Last night, I took action. I added a label to 415 emails (from one guy) and archived them, leaving me with just 39 emails that I’ll handle today.

Yes, that’s a lot of emails from one guy. He writes seven days a week, more when he’s promoting something. I didn’t want to delete them because I get a lot of value from his emails and I want to be able to read them.

Never met the guy but I feel like I know him and I welcome his counsel.

Maybe you feel the same about my emails. You like them, you get information and ideas from them, but you can’t always keep up with me.

You might want to do what I did: label and archive (or put them in a folder) so you can read them later.

You won’t hurt my feelings.

And, if you write a newsletter, you might suggest this to your subscribers, in case they find themselves falling behind.

They can read you later, when they need your help, or when they see the boring dreck written by your competition and miss hearing your “voice”.

It’s not important that your subscribers read everything you write. What’s important is that they see you are still writing to them. See that you’re still helping clients, and still available to them when they need your help.

So, go ahead and write often. Just don’t write dreck.

My email marketing course shows you how to write emails your clients and prospects want to read.

I only do what pleases me

I saw this question posted online: “How do you stop procrastinating when you have an upcoming deadline?”

I expected the respondent to say the deadline forced her to get the work done because she had to. Something practical. But no. She said, “I get around that by never accepting projects I don’t want to do. In fact, I pretty much stick to projects that excite me.”

I want what she has.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could only do work we like and not have to do anything else?

It reminds me of an episode of the old Dick Van Dyke program. Rob and Laura called a house painter to take a look at a problem they were having with a wall in the living room. When the painter arrives, Laura greets him and asks, “How do you do?” The painter, played by Vito Scotti, responds, “Always I do well because I only do what pleases me.”

As unusual as that might sound today, it was even more so when the show played, which is probably why I remember it.

Can you structure your life so you “only do what pleases you?” Maybe not. But you can work towards that.

And you should.

Start avoiding projects, cases, clients, employees, commitments, etc., you don’t like or don’t want to do.

The more you do that, the more you’ll get done and the happier you’ll be in your work. If procrastination has been an issue for you, you’ll probably find you don’t do that anymore.

As you eliminate things that don’t excite you, you make room in your life for things that do.

You could start small, by eliminating minor irritations in your life such as people who drain your energy or routine tasks that bore you. Eventually, consider big things: practice areas, niche markets, types of clients, and partners.

Or, start big. I did that, years ago, when I stopped taking cases and clients outside the practice area I decided to specialize in. Best decision I ever made.

Today, I can’t say I only do what pleases me. But I don’t do much that doesn’t.

Ready to get big, fast? Here’s what you need

Binge marketing

So many ideas, so little time. So many ways to promote your services, generate leads, make new business contacts, and improve response to your existing campaigns.

It never stops. Which is why sometimes, you never start.

Having options is a good thing. But it can be overwhelming.

The solution, or at least one sensible approach, is to choose one idea, channel, strategy, tactic or tool, and (temporarily) go “all in”.

Let’s say you’ve decided that LinkedIn is your new bey. You know (or you’ve heard) it’s a good place to find prospective clients, professionals with whom you can network, influencers, bloggers, and other people you’d like to know.

Whether you’re already a LinkedIn ninja or a complete noob, put everything else aside, set up a new project, and dive in.

Read articles and books. Watch videos. Listen to podcasts. Take a course. Talk to friends.

Read, watch, learn, and take notes. Then, do something.

Yes, but what?

Do you go organic? Do you advertise? Do you focus on publishing content?

What do you do first with your profile? How do you get people to see it, read it, and engage with you?

You: “Thanks a lot! Now I’m more confused than before I started.”

Me: Relax. It’s a process. You’re learning something new. Go back to your collection of information, sift through it again, add to it if necessary, and choose. . . something.

It doesn’t matter what. What matters is that you start, because you learn the most by doing, not reading. And because the objective is doing, not learning.

Do something, then do something else.

One more thing. Don’t give yourself too much time. Give yourself a week or a month, but no more. Otherwise, you might wander and get sucked into the muck.

Remember that video I mentioned the other day about how you can learn a new skill in just 20 hours?

Sounds like a plan.

For a simple marketing plan, go here

Marketing when you don’t feel like marketing

How do you keep the marketing fires lit when you’d rather do other things? What strategies or tactics do you use?

Have you’ve eliminated things you especially don’t like and replaced them with a few you do?

Do you automate and delegate as much as possible?

Do you “chunk it down” into small, easy-to-do tasks you can do a few minutes at a time?

Do you accept that marketing is important, put on your big boy pants, and do it anyway?

All of these are good solutions. I do them, too.

When I have to write something and I’m not feeling it, I’ll break it up into baby steps–a few minutes to find the idea, then take a break; a few more minutes to make some notes, then another break; write for five minutes, then walk away.

And so on.

And, if I’m still not feeling it, I do it anyway. Because it has to get done.

Something else I suggest. It works for marketing or any activity you may be resisting:

Put it on your calendar.

Make an appointment with yourself. Don’t schedule anything else at that time. Don’t take calls or check email. Use the time you’ve scheduled to do the thing you’ve committed to doing.

For extra credit, schedule the appointment early in the day, first thing if possible. You’ll get it out of the way and won’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.

You know this. But do you do it? If I look at your calendar right now, what would I see?

We all have things to do we don’t want to do. Client work, errands, things around the house. We do them because they’re part of the job we signed up for.

But sometimes, we need something in writing staring back at us, reminding us to do it.

Want bigger marketing results with less effort? Here’s what you need

Busy? You might want to rethink that

The gold standard for success isn’t doing lots of things, it’s doing the right things enough to accomplish your goals.

It’s about focus.

In ‘The Dip’, Seth Godin said,

“A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.”

If you’re networking, instead of going to ten different events trying to meet dozens of new people, it’s better to stick with one event and get to know a few key people.

Instead of “spraying and praying” on social media, hoping someone will notice something you say, it’s better to develop a loyal following on one platform before moving on to others.

Instead of marketing to “anyone with a legal problem” and compete with all the other lawyers in your practice area, it’s better to target specific niche markets where you can stand out.

When you focus on one group, one platform, one niche market, you use the power of leverage to get bigger results with less effort.

The woodpecker understands this. Because he’s focused, not busy.

If you’re ready to use leverage like a pro and take a quantum leap in your practice, the Quantum Leap Marketing System shows you what to do.

Too much to read? Here’s what I’m doing

In days gone by, I used to have huge stacks of unread magazines piled up in my office. Every once in awhile, when I was tripping over those stacks, I would spend a couple of hours and go through them.

I tore out the articles I wanted to read, staple the pages together (or fold the corners to hold the pages together) and throw out the rest of the magazine.

Much better.

The “to read” pile was more manageable, but the pile was still huge and more often than not, I didn’t read anything.

I knew there was gold in those articles so I started doing something to lessen the load. Every few days, I’d throw a handful of articles in my briefcase, to read at night or waiting in court or at the doctor’s office.

I’d read them and when they were gone, I’d grab a few more. Eventually, that huge pile of articles was gone (until I added more).

It’s been a long time since I subscribed to a paper magazine (or newspaper), but going digital has made things worse. Until recently, I had hundreds of unread articles and blog posts and pdfs in a reading list in Evernote.

I did something similar to what I used to do with magazines.

I set up two notebooks in Evernote. (You can do the same thing with tags, folders, labels, or briefcases if you have paper.)

I put (no more than) 20 articles in the first notebook. Everything else goes in a second notebook.

When I’ve read those 20 articles, I go to the second notebook and move 20 more to the first notebook.

If I find myself with more than 20 articles in my first notebook, I move the overage to the second notebook.

I still have hundreds of unread articles in Evernote but I don’t see them. I only see 20 (at a time).

My reading list is manageable and I get a lot more reading done.

My ebook: Evernote for Lawyers

Did you celebrate National Simplicity Day?

In honor of Henry David Thoreau’s birthday, July 12th was National Simplicity Day, a day to celebrate a simpler, uncluttered, and slower pace of life.

Who knew?

I didn’t before I watched a video that mentioned it and challenged viewers to use fewer apps and online tools in our work.

The hosts mentioned 3 apps they use every day in their business and how those apps replaced other apps they had previously used, simplifying their work process and saving time and money.

I thought about my use case. I have many apps and online tools at my disposal but only a few I use every day. I’m re-reading The 80/20 Principle and thought about how I get 80% (ish) of the value of these tools from only 20% of them.

I could eliminate many of the rest–the ones I use only occasionally or haven’t used in a long time.

How about you?

How many apps, programs, and online tools do you have in your arsenal? How many do you use regularly? How many of the others could you eliminate?

Okay, apps are easy. Here’s something that’s a bit more complicated:

Which of your cases or clients or practice areas contribute a preponderance of your income or projected income? Could you safely eliminate the ones that don’t?

I asked myself that question many years ago when I had a general practice. I took a leap of faith and jettisoned everything that wasn’t related to the one practice area that was producing best for me, and my income and happiness skyrocketed.

Thank you, Henry David, for showing us the value of keeping things simple.

This is my primary marketing tool

System-driven

Pilots use pre-flight checklists. Juries follow jury instructions. You use a checklist (or program) each time you open a new client file.

In my practice, I had forms (and form letters) for everything. They helped me get new hires up to speed quickly. They helped us run a tight ship because everyone knew what to do.

Systems make our work easier and more likely to get good results. They make sure we don’t miss steps and we do the work efficiently.

Systems (workflows, checklists, forms, methods, etc.) document best practices for recurring tasks. It takes time to create them but it’s time well spent because you can use them over and over again.

I encourage you to take inventory of the systems you currently use and look for ways to improve them.

What can you cut? What could you add? How could you make it better?

Then, consider systems you don’t use but should.

Talk to colleagues and see what they do. Talk to your staff and see what they suggest.

Consider creating some simple scripts or checklists for how the phone should be answered, how a client should be greeted at the front desk, how to get more prospects to make an appointment, and how to talk to clients about referrals.

To start, schedule one hour a week to work on this. Involve your team. Do this for 30 days and then schedule one hour each month to do the same.

If improving your systems allows you to save just one hour per week, every week, how much would that work out to in a year?

Enough to buy pizza for everyone at your next meeting?

Don’t forget to document your systems for marketing

The One Thing

I just re-read The One Thing, the book that asks you to ask yourself, for each area of your life, this “Focusing Question”:

“What’s the ONE thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary.”

The book, and the movement it has created, makes the case for drilling down through all of the possible things you could do, to find the one to do first.

I just asked myself that question about a new project I’m starting. It’s big and important and a bit intimidating and I don’t know where to begin.

In asking myself The Focusing Question, the answer I gave myself was this: research. It’s the one thing I can do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary.

I’ll see my options, identify available resources, and get lot’s of ideas, all of which will help me gain perspective.

And that’s what I’m doing.

Reading, studying, learning, and making notes. When I’ve done that for a while, I will ask the focusing question again and see what to do next.

This is a much better approach than what I might otherwise have done: start anywhere and see what happens. As long as I don’t spend too much time learning and not enough time doing, I should be in good shape.

As you know, learning never stops for a professional. We continually invest in our business and ourselves. I buy a lot of books and courses and read every day because I’m all I’ve got and I want to be the best I can be. I’m sure you do, too.

If you want to be the best you can be in terms of marketing your practice, you owe it to yourself to check out my course, The Quantum Leap Marketing System which I’ve just re-released.

For taking your practice to the next level, it could be your “one thing”.

The Quantum Leap Marketing System