Drivers, start your engines


I’m planning a new course. Writing notes,  clipping articles, jotting down a list of questions that need to be answered.

It looks good.

But what I’ve envisioned looks like it’s going to take months to complete and I don’t want that. I want to get this out into the world in a few weeks. 

Over the weekend, I watched a video by a prolific course creator who explained how he produces a two-hour course in six to eight hours. 

Yeah, that’s for me. 

To have a shot at doing this will require me to reduce the scope of the project I had originally planned. I’m okay with that because a finished project is always better than one that never sees the light of day, and I want to get this done. 

So, we’ll see. 

Which leads me to today’s sermon, which shall commence with a question:

Are you spending too much time learning about marketing?

Learning, planning, practicing, are all good. But the only thing that brings home the bacon is the doing. 

If you want to grow your practice (and your income), spend less time learning (researching, planning, thinking, etc.) and more time doing.

You don’t need to know everything. You need to move.

Even with the time lost from mistakes and detours factored in, you’ll be further along in your journey if you start the engine and step on the gas.

All the planning you need is here 


Procrastinate and grow rich


Procrastination has become a four-letter word, hasn’t it? Those who admonish us not to “put off ’til tomorrow what you can do today,” are are accusing us of being lazy if we’re not Johnny or Janie on the spot.

Oh, the pain.

“You cannot plow a field by turning it over in your mind,” we’re told. Victor Kiam (the electric razor king), said, “Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin.” Honest Abe reminded us that, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

So, am I committing blasphemy when I ask if procrastination is really that bad?

When I’m under the gun with a deadline (or an ultimatum), I tend to get a lot of work done in a very short period of time. That’s being productive, isn’t it?

And, counter-intuitive though it may seem, the work I do when pressed for time is often of higher quality. 

How about you? 

If we are built this way, does that mean that we should sometimes procrastinate on purpose?

It sounds like that’s exactly what I’m saying.  

“If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done,” said author Rita Mae Brown.

On the other hand, having more time to do research, make decisions, or edit and polish our work product are not only advisable, they’re essential. 

Let’s face it, when there’s an impending deadline, it’s easy to cut corners that shouldn’t be cut. We’ might choose the first thing we see simply because we’re running out of time. 

And hey, have you ever paid too much for something because you didn’t allow yourself enough time to shop?

So no, procrastinating on purpose isn’t always the way to go. 

Sometimes, we should start a project immediately. Sometimes, we should let it cool before we dive in. Sometimes, we should start part of it right away and leave other parts for later. 

How do you know what to do?

There are no rules. No checklist. Or at least, there shouldn’t be. Let your gut tell you what’s best.

My point is, we shouldn’t be rigid in how we do everything, nor should we beat ourselves up when we break “the rules”. 

Point of order: when you’re late to court, you might not want to tell the judge about your flexible schedule.  I’m just saying.


How to get yourself to do something you don’t want to do


Alrighty, you have a plan. You have written some goals and made a list of actions you need to take to achieve them. You’ve scheduled time during your day to do them.  

What do you do when you get to something on your list you really don’t want to do?

It happens to all of us. You feel resistance and procrastinate or find excuses for not doing it.

How do you get yourself to do things you don’t want to do?

One thing that works for me is to take the activity and carve it up into even smaller pieces. Something I can do that will only take five minutes, for example, or one simple step on a longer list. 

Sometimes, I just suck it up and do the dreaded thing anyway. If need be, I give myself permission to do it badly because there is value in crossing things off your list and because I know I can come back later and fix it. 

What if the problem persists? What if you’re trying to stick with an exercise routine, for example, or you have a big project and every time you sit down to work on it you feel like doing something else? 

Me? I bribe myself. 

My daily walks are part of my routine now but in the beginning, when I resisted getting out the door, I rewarded myself by listening to podcasts I didn’t have time for during the rest of the day. 

When I’m having trouble making progress on a writing project, I’ll do something similar: give myself ten minutes to watch a video channel I like after thirty minutes of writing.

I’ll bet you do something like this, too. 

It turns out this technique has a name. It’s called “temptation bundling”–pairing something you love to do or would prefer to do with something you’re trying to get yourself to do. 

But this is nothing new. Our parents taught us this. Remember, “No dessert until you eat your veggies” and “No TV until you finish your homework”?

Yeah, like that.

Which reminds me, now that this is done I can go get my second cup of coffee.

Marketing is easier when you know the formula


How old farts get more done


I read about a study that says people over 40 are most productive when they work three days a week or less.

Great. Where do I sign up?

Actually, I signed up a long time ago when I was still in my twenties. Cutting my work week to three days (from a less-productive, stress-filled six-day schedule) allowed me to multiply my income and start enjoying life.

So, even though I haven’t always worked only three days a week, this idea gets a thumbs up from me.

The question is, what are you going to do with this piece of information?

If you aren’t self-employed and you want to give it a whirl, you’re going to have to negotiate with your employer. See if you can work out a way that you get paid for your output instead of your time.

When I started paying my staff a salary instead of by the hour, I told them I didn’t care how many hours they worked as long as they got their work done.

They did and we were both happier.

If you’re self-employed and you want to cut your hours, sit down and have a talk with yourself. See if you can work something out.

What if you bill by the hour?

Stop doing that.

Try flat fees or package your services in a way that you can get paid no matter how many hours the job takes you.

You’ll work less and earn more. And you and your clients will be happier.

Even if you’re still in your twenties.

Get the check: stress-free billing and collection


How Ebeneezer Scrooge got rich


One thing that distinguishes successful (accomplished, wealthy) people from the rest of the folks is how much they value their time. 

Because of this, they say “no” more than they say “yes”. 

They say no to requests for their time or money that don’t align with their mission, values, or plans. They say no to low priority projects. They say no to things that waste their time or that they don’t enjoy. 

Which lets them focus on important things, which is how they get rich.  

If you want to follow suit, you must commit to saying “no” more often. 

On the other hand, Mr. Scrooge was a miserable old coot. He might not have realized this until he saw depictions of the harm he had done and the bleak future that awaited him, but once his eyes were opened, he redeemed himself and was happier for it. 

His dream provided context and allowed him to realize what was truly important.  

Say no more often, say no to most things, so you can say yes to important things. Just make sure you know what’s really important. 


How to finish what you start


Yesterday, I said that when I flesh out a new project I usually leave the due date line blank. That’s because most of my work these days doesn’t have any deadlines.

When you have clients waiting on you, statutes of limitations and court rules to abide, deadlines are a fact of life. I’ve tried making up due dates. Usually, they don’t work. As Douglas Adams said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

Without a due date or penalty for not finishing projects, you may ask how I’m able to get things done.

The first thing I do is to always have several projects going at once. That way, when I’m bored with one or stuck on something, I switch to another. When I come back to the first project, things have usually sorted themselves out. If not, I’ve got others to choose from.

The second thing I do is break up my projects into small parts or next actions. This keeps me from getting overwhelmed by the immensity of what I’ve set out to do. I look at the next step or, at most, the next two or three, and get to work.

It feels good ticking off the boxes as I complete those tasks, which inspires me to carry on and do more.

I also tend to make the initial steps easy ones, to help me get started.

The third thing I do is to keep the big picture in mind. I think about the goal–what I’m seeking to accomplish and how exciting or gratifying it will be when I do it. When I find myself second-guessing myself or getting frustrated by a problem, remembering “why” helps me get back on track.

In sum, I think big but act small. Thinking big supplies the motivation. Acting small allows me to make progress.

Okay, one more. And this might actually be the most important.

I also give myself permission to give up.

I don’t feel guilty about not finishing everything I start or starting everything I’ve planned.

One of the perks of not having a client waiting on me.

How to get other lawyers to send you referrals


How I set up a new project


In sprucing up my Evernote account, I used the new “template” feature to create a new “Project Master Note” template. It helps me flesh out the bones of a new project.

For my first go at this, I used tables and color and channeled my inner designer to make it look pretty. Unfortunately, my inner designer died years ago and it was a hot mess. I went back to my “plain text” roots and now the template is lean (and boring) but functional.

The first line of the template says PROJECT. I give each project a name or title and sometimes a sub-title.

The second line says PURPOSE/OUTCOME. I describe what I want to accomplish and why it’s important.

Knowing the OUTCOME clarifies what I want to do. Knowing the PURPOSE helps me wade through all of my active or planned projects and prioritize what I want to work on today or this week.

The third line is for the due date. I usually leave this blank or write n/a, but sometimes there is a due date or at least a target date.

The fourth line heading is STATUS. This is followed by checkboxes for Idea, Planned, Active, On Hold, Cancelled and Completed.

Next is DESCRIPTION. I write a one or two sentence summary of what I plan to do.

Then, NOTES/BRAINSTORMING. I use bullet points to record ideas, problems, features, benefits, and other thoughts about the project.

The next line says NEXT ACTIONS. Under this heading, I use checkboxes to indicate what to do first, what to do after that, and so on.

Finally, RESOURCES. Here I put links to websites, other notes in Evernote, shortcuts to files and documents on my hard drive, and so on.

Between each of these sections is a horizontal rule to visually separate things.

Unlike my first go at this, my template takes up very little room and allows me to see everything with minimal scrolling.

I’ve used this for a couple of months and I’m happy with it. But like most things, it is a work in progress and will likely change.

Anyway, that’s what I’m doing (and why). How about you?

Do you use a new project template or master note? What do you include (and why)?

My ebook: Evernote for Lawyers


I feel good. I knew that I would, now


Albert Schweitzer said: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Actually, science says he’s right. By mapping the brain to identify dopamine production they found that pleasure results in greater productivity.

When you feel good about what you’re doing, you give it more energy. You work harder and get better results.

Are there exceptions? Sure. In the short term, you can make a lot of money doing something you detest. But it catches up with you in terms of poor health, failed relationships, and other negative consequences. So you wind up with money but you’re still not happy.

Why not start with happy and have both?

Stop looking at happiness as the end result or an added bonus and start seeing it as the pathway to success.

Most lawyers who aren’t happy suck it up and continue working until they have enough money, contacts, and ideas to retire or go with plan B.

Some make it. Some don’t.

How about this: If you don’t love what you’re doing, change something–your practice area, partner, job, or methods. Find different clients. Adopt different marketing strategies. Compartmentalize your work so can focus on the parts of your practice you enjoy and delegate or automate the rest.

Because success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.

Get more referrals so you can hire more help and let them do the things you don’t like


What are your three things?


“Perhaps the most important personal productivity tool ever discovered is what we call the “Law of Three.” This law says that 90% of all of your results and eventually, your income, come from only three of your daily activities.”

So says Brian Tracy in a post on his blog.

In 80/20 parlance, those three activities are your “vital few”–20% activities that deliver 80% of your results.

And they’re different for everyone.

Tracy used sales managers as an example. He says their three things are recruiting, training and managing.

So, what are your three things?

Of all the things you do in your practice, what three activities create the most value?

Focus on those three things. Do more of them, get better at them, and you should be able to increase your income at an accelerated rate.

You may also find that you can let go of a lot of things that aren’t your top three. This will give you more time (and energy) for your top three activities, allowing you to compound your results.

But don’t stop there.

Once you’ve done this exercise and found your three activities, do the same exercise for each of those three.

If one of your 20% activities is litigation, for example, identify the top three activities that make you better or more successful at it.

If one of your top three activities is marketing (and if it’s not, what’s up wit dat?), make a list of all of the marketing activities you do and from that list, choose your top three.

Which marketing activity brings in the most clients? Which produces your best clients? Which activity do you do best and want to do more?

Focus your marketing on those three things and consider letting go of or doing less of everything else.

You’ll thank me later.

One of my top three: client referrals


How to finish what you start


You know that business project you started last year and never finished? That great idea that had the potential to multiply your income or significantly change your life?

Yeah, me too.

We’re good at coming up with ideas and starting things, aren’t we? Why aren’t we good at finishing them?

Lots of reasons. Fear is a biggie.

But rather than psychoanalyze ourselves, we’re better served figuring out what to do about it.

How can we finish more of the things we start?

One of the best solutions I’ve found is to make sure you have some skin in the game.

Put your reputation or your money on the line so that you are compelled to finish. Let fear work for you instead of against you.

Investing a lot of money into a goal creates an emotional commitment to the goal. Your fear of losing your investment will push you to see it through.

Sign up for a class and get someone to take it with you. They’ll hold you accountable to show up when you might otherwise find excuses to quit.

Announce your project to your email list, friends, or colleagues, and promise to provide regular updates. When you find yourself slacking off, you’ll remember that you’re going to have to explain yourself and pick up the pace.

Projects are easy to start and just as easy to abandon. As Jim Rohn put it, “What’s easy to do is also easy to not do”.

Get some skin in the game and make it not so easy to not do.

A simple way to get a lot more referrals