The problem with keeping a journal–and a surprisingly simple solution


Many of us who have kept a journal in the past, or are trying to do that now, face the challenge of keeping it up.

We get caught up in our day’s activities and don’t seem to find the time to do it. At the end of the day, we’re tired or have forgotten what we wanted to say. We miss a day and then another and soon, we’re not doing it anymore.

Which is a shame because a journal is a powerful tool for improving productivity, creativity, mindfulness, and more.

A journal can help us:

  • memorialize our days accomplishments
  • gain clarity about our goals and the path to achieving them
  • record ideas
  • improve our writing skills
  • prioritize our day
  • plan the future
  • make better decisions
  • track how we spend our time
  • track our daily state of mind
  • track our habits
  • record inspiring thoughts and ideas
  • and so much more

The solution? Instead of scheduling time to write in your journal, write in between your other tasks. It’s called “interstitial journaling” and for me, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

As you go about your day and think of something you need to do or want to remember, or you want to reflect on something you did well or something you want to improve, take a minute to write it down–in the moment.

No need to wait until it’s time for journaling.

Nor do you have to write it in an actual journal. Write it down in whatever you have available to you–your notes app, your task app, your legal pad, or your calendar.

Capture the thought or idea and get back to what you were doing. Do this throughout the day and at the end of the day, your journaling is done.

You might be recording notes about a file your working on when you have an idea about your upcoming presentation. Record that idea alongside your other notes.

No need to switch apps if you won’t want to, or wait until you’re working on the presentation.

Won’t those ideas get lost or buried under your other notes?

Not if you do this digitally and tag your thoughts or tasks or ideas. When you want to review your journal notes, click the tag or link to call them up. You can then transfer your journal notes to other apps if you want to, or keep them where they are.

When you get in the habit of journaling this way, you’ll find yourself doing more journaling than you ever thought possible. I write “journal” notes every day now, something I’ve never done before.

I don’t schedule time to write in a journal. I spend a few seconds, a minute or two, throughout the day writing a few lines here and there, between tasks or appointments or calls, or whenever I take a break. I write what I thought, how I felt, what I did and what else I want to do.

Not only has this made me more productive, it’s also liberating to be able to empty my head any time it fills up.

Keeping a journal this way is simple because your journal isn’t a special notebook, you don’t have to allocate time to write in it, and you don’t have to worry about having anything to say.

Write in between the cracks of life and you might be surprised at how much you have to say, and how easy it is to record it.

Do you keep a journal? Have your tried interstitial journaling?


Need more ideas? Start with this one


If you want (need) more ideas–for building your practice or anything else–including ideas for articles and blog posts and other content–you might want to follow author James Altucher’s recommendation.

And that is: Write down 10 ideas a day.

He says that if you do this for 30 days, you’ll not only have a heap of ideas to choose from, you will also train your brain to become an idea finding machine.

You’ll become more creative, seeing ideas everywhere. And you’ll become more prolific because when you have more ideas than you could possibly use, you’ll be able to easily push out new content.

Where do you find these ideas?


Read blogs and articles for lawyers and by lawyers, in your field and allied fields.

Read things written by and for people in your client’s industry or market.

Read books and watch videos on any subject that interest you.

And write down everything that comes into your head.

Good ideas and bad ideas, and everything in between.

You won’t get usable ideas from everything your read. But you will stimulate your brain to make connections between seemingly disconnected ideas and formulate new ones.

Can you do this for 30 days? Altucher says he does it every day. It’s been a part of his routine for years and allowed him to turn out a plethora of articles and blog posts and best-selling books.

If you’re ready to try this for 30 days, you can start you list with the idea you just read.

One down, only nine to go.

More ways to get ideas for emails and blog posts


Are you too logical to be successful?


I’m pretty sure that most lawyers are left-brained. We’re logical, orderly, and rule-bound.

These traits help us to be good at what we do. They make us good at drafting documents to protect our clients. They help us to see the flaws in the other party’s position and forge the right arguments against them. They help us to fill out the right forms, check the right boxes, and avoid neglecting something important.

Unfortunately, these traits might also hold us back from reaching our potential.

Logical thinking is linear. A before B followed by C. This helps us to get the work done efficiently but it often blinds us to other options.

Right-brained people operate differently. They see many options, usually all at once. They are artists and inventors and creators of new ideas. They don’t necessarily follow the rules, they often break them. As if to underscore this difference, Thomas Edison once said about his laboratory, “There ain’t no rules around here! We’re trying to accomplish something!”

As lawyers, we can’t ignore the rules, although perhaps we can remember to question them. When it comes to marketing and building our practice, however, we should consider throwing out the rules and making new ones.

I’m not suggesting we violate the law or ethical rules. I’m suggesting that we observe what everyone else is doing and do the opposite.

That should be easy. Since most lawyers aren’t good at marketing and don’t do much of it, it doesn’t take much to beat them.

In a world of blind men, the one-eyed man is king. In a world of logic-bound lawyers, a little creativity can go a long way.

How to earn more than you ever thought possible: the formula


How to train your brain to come up with marketing ideas


This morning, I saw an article with this headline: “Arby’s will offer a vegetarian menu for 1 day only this leap year”. I’m not a vegetarian, and I don’t eat at Arby’s, but the story caught my eye because it is an unusual and creative marketing promotion.

The promotion allows Arby’s to remind the public of their meat-centric menu by extending an olive branch to those who don’t eat meat, and thus, don’t usually visit Arby’s. It uses leap year to underscore that this is a one day special promotion.

(In case you’re wondering, the vegetarian sandwiches are simply regular sandwiches without the meat, sold at the same price.)

So Arby’s gets publicity and, I’m sure, more traffic to their stores. I’m betting that most of that traffic won’t be vegetarians, and that’s probably the point. However this plays out for the company, we have to agree that this promotion is well-played.

Okay, why am I telling you this?

I pay attention to stories about unusual promotions (and regular ones, too) to see if I can find ideas I can share with you or use in my own marketing. When I saw this story, I thought, “How could a lawyer do a “one day” promotion or an “opposite” promotion?

I came up with. . . nothing.

Okay, I suppose a divorce lawyer who represents “men only” could, for one day, accept women clients. An estate planning firm that represents wealthy clients could, for a week or a month, open their doors to “anyone”.

The point isn’t necessarily whether or not you can come up with a suitable promotion for your practice, it is that by thinking about how you might do that, you will stimulate (and train) your brain to be on the lookout for marketing ideas.

The next time you see a business running a promotion, it might cause you to think of a way you could use that idea, or one like it. You will become more observant about how businesses and professionals market their products and services, with or without promotions, and thus become more creative in marketing yours.

It’s the difference between seeing the Arby’s story and saying, “that’s clever” (and perhaps, “I’m hungry”) and asking, “How can I use an idea like that?”

Train yourself to ask “how could I use this idea?” because you won’t get answers to questions you never ask.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula


Why I didn’t earn millions of dollar per year in my law career


By most people’s standards, I had a successful law career. I helped a lot of people and earned a lot of money. Looking back, however, I realize that I didn’t help as many people as I could, or earn as much as I could.

One reason is that I didn’t want to work that hard. I wanted free time to spend with my family and do other things. I didn’t want to work all day every day and burn out (or die) at an early age.

But there may have been a way to earn a lot more without sacrificing quality of life. In fact, doing this one thing may have made my life more interesting and gratifying.

An article in Forbes has the answer. “According to multiple, peer-reviewed studies, simply being in an open network instead of a closed one is the best predictor of career success,” the article says.

An open network is where “you are the link between people from different clusters”. A closed network, on the other hand, is where “you are connected to people who already know each other.”

In other words, the best predictor of career success is continually meeting new people, outside of your usual haunts. Most people, myself included, associate primarily with people they already know.

I’d much rather spend time with people I know, in familiar surroundings, doing things I am comfortable doing. The big boys, it seems, regularly get out of their comfort zone and “go hunting” in unfamiliar territory.

One of the studies showed that “half of the predicted difference in career success (i.e., promotion, compensation, industry recognition) is due to this one variable.”

Oh my.

Practically speaking, an open network means getting away from your regular bar association and chamber of commerce meetings, at least periodically, and attending other functions, even if they seem to be wholly unrelated to your current career path.

In his early life, Steve Jobs pursued many diverse interests that had nothing to do with business. Those experiences, and the people he met in exploring them, not only helped mold his creative eye, they introduced him to opportunities he was later able to capitalize on in his career.

In view of this, if I was building my law career today, I would spend more time pursuing things that fascinated me and meeting people who share my interests. I would be a kid again, exploring the world and all it had to offer, something Jobs did throughout his life.

Want more referrals but don’t want to ask for them? Here’s the solution


How to be more creative


You’re in a rut. Every day you do the same things. The spark is gone. Your creativity machine has become rusty.

What if you played a game where you used your imagination to come up with some fresh ideas?

It’s called, the “What if?” game and it will help you be more creative.

Let’s play.

What if you were marketing used cars instead of legal services. What would you do to get more people to your showroom, sell more cars, or earn more from each car sold?

Well, you might hold a big sale. “An extra $500 off on any car this weekend only”. You might have elephant rides on your lot and encourage people to bring their kids. You might take your sales people on a retreat and have a trainer teach them some new techniques. You might also have that trainer consult with you on how to motivate your sales team with bonuses, trips, and other incentives.

Okay, that was fun. It was nice to think about things you could do if you weren’t constrained by law and propriety. You discovered that you can still be creative.

But so what? You can’t really use any of these ideas.

What if you could? (Yep, still playing. . .)

You’re probably not going to hold a sale, but perhaps you could put together some kind of limited time offer. “Book your appointment this week and get free document updates for life.”

You’re not going to have elephant rides in your building’s parking lot, but how about adding a toy chest and coloring books to your waiting room so clients can keep their kids occupied?

What about that employee retreat and sales trainer idea? You actually could do that. Bring in someone to teach your employees how to work with clients, to keep them happy and stimulate referrals.

If you want to be more creative, look at things from a different perspective. Think about the question or problem as if you were a different person, or under a different set of circumstances. Imagine you had different tools or different skills.

In other words, think like a kid.

Kids don’t settle for the way things are. They use their imaginations. They think about the way things could be. They ask, “What if?”


Grow your law practice by training your creative muscles


If you’re like me, you don’t finish every project you start. Not even close.

On your hard drive or in a box in your closet lie countless half-written articles, outlines for seminars that have never seen the light of day, and volumes of clippings related to things you thought you might do someday.

It’s okay. You don’t have to do everything you think of, or finish everything you start.

At some point, though, you have to finish something. Not just because it might be useful to you in your work or another aspect of your life, but because finishing things is the cutting edge of growth.

I know you finish things every day. You settle cases, you draft documents, you produce. But most of what you do in your work is routine and unlikely to lead to anything more than incremental growth.

If we want to take a quantum gigantic leap in our personal and professional life, we need to do things we’ve never done before. We need to create.

Creating strengthens your creative muscles. The more you do, the more you will be able to do. In time, you’ll be able to take on bigger projects, the kind that can create fortunes.

You will also train your subconscious mind to find new ideas to tackle. The more you say “yes” to the ideas your mind serves up, the more ideas it will bring you.

Eventually, you will have an abundance of big ideas, and the capacity to bring them to life.

Go through your electronic notes and physical repositories and find something you can finish. Start with something small, something you can finish today. Then, do something bigger.

It doesn’t matter if what you create is any good, or even whether you use it. What’s important is that you get in the habit of taking on new creative tasks and finishing them.

If you want to grow your law practice, start by growing yourself.


Where good ideas come from by Steven Johnson


Soon, we’ll all be thinking about the New Year. How can we grow our practice? What can we do to enhance our personal life?

For some, the answer is to continue executing plans that are already in place. They know what to do, they just need to get better at doing it or simply give it more time. Others need a new plan. What they’ve been doing isn’t working. New plans call for new ideas, but where do ideas come from?

To answer this question, author Steven Johnson takes us on a visual journey into the creative process in this fascinating video:

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