Can you really earn more by working less?


We’ve all been taught that more is better so how is it that some people earn more and achieve more by working less?

They do it by choosing the right things to do.

The most successful among us focus on doing things that allow them to take giant leaps instead of incremental steps. The kinds of things that let them leverage their resources and get “eighty percent results with twenty percent effort”.

It’s not that they ignore the little things. It’s that at any given moment, they’re able to zero in on the one thing they can do that will give them the most bang for their buck.

Real estate entrepreneur, Gary Keller, made this the theme of his bestselling book, The ONE Thing. He says that we can become much more successful by finding and doing the one thing (activity, task, decision, etc.) that can allow us to achieve extraordinary results.

Keller suggests that we look at our goals and for each one, ask, “What’s the ‘ONE Thing’ [I] can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

If your goal is to bring in ten new clients per month within 90 days, for example, out of all the things you MIGHT do, you should find and do the one thing that is likely to make it most likely that you will achieve that goal.

Start by brainstorming possibilities. You’ll probably think of hundreds of ideas, and if you don’t, read through my blog and courses. Put your list aside for a few days, come back to it and look for your ‘one thing’.

You may reason your way to a decision, but it is just as likely that your “gut” will tell you. If you’re not sure, go through your list slowly, think about each idea and see how you feel about it. If it feels good to think about it, if you find yourself getting excited about it, the odds are that’s what you should choose.

Your ‘one thing’ will likely be different than any other lawyer’s. You might decide that your one thing is to hire someone to create a new website for you. Another lawyer might decide that his or her one thing is to meet prospective new referral sources. Someone else may decide that advertising is the right thing for them.

All of these things, and others, might help you reach your goal, but you should consider them later. Right now,  you should find your one thing and do it.

Your website can bring you a lot of new clients


Why being a bit neurotic might be a good thing


If you’re like me, you are constantly fiddling. No matter how well things are going, we’re never completely satisfied and we’re constantly looking for something better.

We may be running a tight ship at work but good isn’t good enough. We’re “getting things done” but we can’t help but think there are ways to get more things done, or get them done faster.

I’ve used Evernote as my primary productivity application for several years but I am continually trying new apps. I’m also trying new methods–new tagging schemes, new ways of organizing tasks and projects, new ways of approaching how I work.

I used to think my mercurial ways were a sign of weakness. It turns out they might actually be a strength.

According to Charles Duhigg, author of Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, the most productive people frequently try new systems. “I found that the people who are most productive decided to think about it deliberately,” he says. “Habits are useful tools, but they can hinder as well as help,” he adds. “Constantly cycling through systems forces you to think about your own productivity.”

Each time we try a new app, a new system, or a new process, we critically examine what we have been habitually doing. Things may be good but they can always be better and by continually trying new ideas, we continually find ways to improve.

So the next time you’re feeling guilty about changing your methodology or replacing your favorite app with another, give yourself a pat on the back.

And if you’re not a jumpy monkey like some of us, if you’re satisfied with the way everything is working and have no interest in re-examining what you do, you might want to smoke some of what we’re smoking and join us on the cutting edge.

Evernote for Lawyers


Too much on your plate? Get a smaller plate


Nirvana. That’s what we all want, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why I was attracted to an app by that name several years ago when it was in beta.

Nirvana is built for GTD, with Next Actions, Waiting, Someday, and other “Getting Things Done” features. I liked it, but the developer was taking too long to get it out of beta and I eventually moved onto to other things.

The other day I heard that Nirvana had been updated and I decided to take another look. I played around with it, entering tasks and projects, adding tags, and taking the app for a test drive.

I’m using the free Basic version which limits you to 3 “Areas of Focus” (e.g., Work, Personal, etc.) and 5 Projects. I have more than one business, however, and could use more than 3 Areas of Focus. I also have many projects, both active and inactive, and could use a lot more than 5.

But here’s the thing.

As I struggled to shoehorn my busy life into the Basic version, I realized that while I may have 50 projects I could be working on, I can only work on a one or two at a time. I found myself thinking about what was important to me right now, and used these for my 5 projects. Any other projects (or standalone tasks) I can tag “Someday,” or schedule for a future date, which is what I did with a project I’m planning to work on next month.

If I had the unlimited Pro account, ( per year) and put every project on the project list, both active and inactive, I can see how things might get out of hand. Using the Basic version of Nirvana, or any app that limits you to a handful of “front and center” options, forces you to prioritize.

I can’t have too much on my plate because my “plate” only holds so much.

Of course an artificial limit of 5 projects is just that–artificial. I can still put “everything” in this or other apps and find them when I want to re-fill my list of 5.

I think I’ll play around with the limited version of Nirvana a bit longer. There’s something liberating about looking at a spartan interface with just a few things in front of me, seeing how close I am to being “Done”.

Check out Nirvana and see what you think


I’m afraid you won’t like what I’m about to say


Like anyone who puts his or her work out for the world to see, I have doubts about what people will think about it. I have fears that nobody will like it or that I will receive harsh criticism.

I have other fears, too, just like everyone does.

Most of these fears are fleeting. They don’t last long and they aren’t debilitating. Some are pretty silly when I think about them in the light of day. (Not so silly when they come in a dream, however.)

How do I manage fear?

What I don’t do is follow the advice that says, “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway,” detailed in a book by that name. Don’t get me wrong, I do it anyway, usually, I just don’t feel the fear.

Why feel the fear and infuse it with energy? Why give it more weight than it probably deserves?

So no, I don’t feel the fear. I look at it rationally and ask myself if there is anything I can learn from it or anything I must do about it. Usually, the answer is no.

I acknowledge the fear, and then I change the subject.

I think about something else that feels better when I think it. I think about a positive aspect of the subject at hand or I think about something completely unrelated.

Yes, you can distract yourself from negative thoughts and fears. That’s why God invented sports and movies, isn’t it?

So yeah, once I know that my fear doesn’t offer me anything I need, it’s not protecting me from harm,  I change the subject.

Usually that’s all I need to do. Sometimes, the fear is stubborn and I need to do more. If I’ve already decided to move forward, I put that fear in a mental lock box.

Actually, instead of a box, sometimes I put the fear in a mental balloon filled with helium and let the balloon float away. Images are powerful and I’ve found that when something is really bothering me, strong imagery helps me to regain control.

Sometimes fears return. I’ll do a quick double check, to see if they have anything worthwhile to tell me, and if not, back in the box or balloon they go.

I guess what I’m saying is that you have to get good at compartmentalizing things. If you’ve done your homework and you’re committed to doing something, put on blinders and do it. Don’t let your doubts or fears stop you.

Every so often, it’s good to take a look around you, just to make sure. But whatever you do. . . don’t open that box.

Afraid you won’t get more clients? Here’s the solution


Getting things done by giving yourself less time to do them


In an interview, author Jodi Picoult was asked about her approach to writing. She said:

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

Yep. That just about sums up my thoughts about writer’s block. It’s also a good metaphor for other things on our plate, especially things we’ve been putting off or have struggled to complete.

What project would you like to do but have told yourself you don’t have the time? The truth is, you might not be doing it because you have too much time.

I’ve found this to be a bigger issue for me since I stopped seeing clients and started working from home. Not having appointments and deadlines and due dates has resulted in my continually “not having enough time” to do things, and the things I have done have taken much longer than they should.

There’s one project I’ve had on the back burner for an eternity. I wasn’t close to starting, let along finishing. But about a week ago, I gave myself a deadline to finish it before the end of the month. With that due date looming, in one day I was able to make enormous progress and I am certain I will finish on time.

Parkinson’s Law says, “Work expands to fill the time allotted for it’s completion,” or something like that. The trick, then, is to allot less time. Perhaps a lot less.

Pretend you’re back in school and everything has a due date and serious consequences for missing it. Choose something on your list that you think might require a week or a month to complete and commit to doing it this weekend.

You might not finish it but you will surely make a lot of progress. You also might surprise yourself and get it done.

Get more things done by getting better at delegating. This will help


Yes, you’re busy but are you getting things done?


You keep a list of things you need to do each day, right? If you’re good at this list making thing, you highlight the two or three (or five) most important tasks of the day. Even better, you write your list the night before so you can hit the ground running the next morning.

Good stuff. You’re getting things done. Important, valuable things that create value for you and your clients and advance you towards your most important goals.

Or are you?

Some list-makers aren’t that good at deducing their most important tasks and spend too much time putting out fires and doing whatever else is put in front in front of them. Others are good at making lists of important tasks but not so good at getting them done.

If that describes you, even a little, I have a suggestion. At the end of the day, before you write your list for the morrow, write down what you did that day. A “done” list, that shows you what you actually did.

Actually, if you’re especially clever (and unafraid of the truth), instead of writing down what you did, write down what you accomplished. Because being busy isn’t worth squat.

At the end of the day, ask yourself, “What did I achieve today?” If you like the answer, great. You will be motivated to accomplish more the following day. If you don’t like the answer, if you realize that you’re keeping busy but you’re not accomplishing important things, you’ll either do something about that or you’ll stop writing a list of accomplishments and go back to just being busy.

Because success is a choice.

Building a successful law practice starts with having a plan


How to get rid of digital clutter


Are you a hoarder? I don’t mean clothes and newspapers and other stuff you’ve got piled up to the ceiling, I mean the digital clutter on your hard drive, especially your endless list of tasks and projects you plan to do “next” or “someday”.

To be sure, there are good ideas on those lists. But as a whole, there are too many options; collectively, they hinder your productivity. When you have too many ideas, you get to the point where you can’t decide what to do. You may even stop looking.

The solution? Grab a machete and get cutting.

But hold on. I know it’s difficult to get rid of things you might want to do someday. You worked hard to make and keep those lists. There may be a million dollar idea on one of your lists and you don’t want to let it go.

You might want to do what a mother did when she was trying to get her kids to get rid of their old toys.

“When I’d say, “What do you want to get rid of?” my kids would usually have a really hard time choosing anything to part with. . . . They wanted to keep everything. . . When I changed my words to, “What would you like to keep? What are your most favorite things?” my kids were suddenly able to get rid of a lot of stuff!”

Instead of agonizing over each item on your list, trying to decide which tasks and projects you would like to get rid of, start over and make a new list. Add only those things you want to keep, only those things you are most likely to do.

But unlike that mother’s kids, you don’t have to throw away any of your old toys. You can store your original list out of sight somewhere on your hard drive.

Your new list will help you get important things done, but you’ll know that your old lists still exist, in case you ever want to play with your old toys.

Get your marketing organized


How to beat procrastination without really trying


There are hundreds of tips and strategies on how to beat procrastination floating around. That’s too many, if you ask me.

Instead of giving you a laundry list of ideas I want to share with you just three.


Not everything on your task list needs to be done. Many tasks aren’t that important, at least in comparison to other things on your list. After all, being productive isn’t about getting everything done it’s about getting the most important things done.

So ask yourself, “Do I really need to do this?” and if the answer is anything but an unqualified yes, either cross it off the list or put it on a “someday/maybe” list and look at it at some future date.

If a task does need to be done, ask yourself, “Who else could do this?” If you can delegate the task to someone else, you should.


If something needs to be done (by you), and you don’t already have a deadline, give yourself one. Pick a date when the task will be done, or when a significant portion of the project will be done, and put this on your calendar.

You may be inclined to give yourself ample time but it’s usually better to do just the opposite. Shorter deadlines make it more likely that you will complete the task.

If you give yourself three weeks to complete something, you might not get started until a few days before the deadline. Or, as you see the deadline approaching you will extend it. So instead of three weeks, give yourself three days to complete the task, or even three hours.

Once you have a deadline, tell someone about it–your client, spouse, partner, or a workout buddy–and ask them to hold you accountable. When I tell my wife I will have the first draft of something done by a certain date, I am much more likely to do it.


The most important part of any task is getting started. The first step in doing anything puts you one step closer to the second step.

Start with something small and easy. Make a list of everything you need to do, for example, or re-write the list you already wrote.

Tell yourself you’ll work on it for just five minutes. No matter how unpleasant the task might be you can do it for five minutes. The odds are that once you get started, you’ll feel compelled to continue.

These three strategies should help you beat procrastination most of the time. If you still find yourself procrastinating, however, ask yourself why you are resisting doing things you know you need to do.

The solution might be simple. If you don’t know how to do something, for example, schedule time to learn. If you’re afraid of doing a poor job, get some advice or ask someone with more experience to help you.

There is always a reason why you are procrastinating. Instead of ignoring that reason, embrace it. Your subconscious mind knows what you need and if you listen carefully, you will hear the solution.


Getting addicted to getting things done


I’m about to finish a book project and it feels good. Not just because I will have another tool I can use in my business, not just because it represents another source of passive income, but because it really does feel good to get things done.

You know this is true. When you wrap up a case or finish something you’re working on, you have a pleasurable sense of satisfaction. Finishing feels good.

It turns out that there is physiological explanation for this feeling. When we finish a task, our brains release Serotonin, the so-called pleasure drug. This motivates us to take on more tasks, and bigger tasks.

We can use this to condition ourselves to be more productive.

“What we want to do if we want to set ourselves up for increasing productivity is put minor or smaller challenges in front of us so we build up that ‘done’ moment,” psychologist Leslie Sherlin says.

One way to do this is to break down your tasks into smaller chunks. Instead of writing an entire 90-minute closing argument, for example, write just the outline. It feels good to finish this and you are motivated to take the next step.

You can also break up your work into smaller increments of time. Instead of planning to work two hours on something (and trying to find the time to do that), do it for ten minutes. (Consider the Pomodo Technique where you use a timer to work 25 minutes, followed by a five minute break.)

Smaller tasks and shorter time intervals gives you more opportunities to “finish”. The more you do, the more you want to do more. You are literally addicted to getting things done, and that’s probably a good thing.


Getting things done in burst mode


I read an article recently about the work habits of a novelist. He said that he works best when he doesn’t write every day, as conventional wisdom suggests. Rather, he gets more done in “burst mode” (my term) where he will write up to 8,000 or 10,000 words in a day.

His job (full time as I recall) and family obligations make it difficult to carve out sufficient blocks of writing time during the week. He found that an hour a day wasn’t long enough to find his writing mojo and get up to speed. Give him eight or ten hours on Saturday, however, and he could knock out an entire book in record time.

The point is that each of us works differently and we need to honor what works best for us.

As you know, I advocate setting aside time each work day for marketing your practice. You can get a lot done in as little as 15 minutes a day, if you do it consistently. But I acknowledge the value of working in bigger blocks of time, especially on bigger projects. In fact, I do it myself.

In my practice, I would often show up at the office on a Saturday and plow through a pile of files. In a few hours of undisturbed time, I would do more work than I might do in an entire week.

In school, instead of studying every night, I often crammed for tests the night before and wrote entire term papers in a weekend. That’s how I liked to work and I got good grades. In fact, I’ve read that we often do our best creative work when we do it quickly.

All hail burst mode!

In school, we have deadlines and due dates. The same goes for most legal work. But that’s not true with marketing. So, if you want to do marketing in burst mode, you need to schedule the time in advance and stick to that schedule.

You might schedule one Saturday each month for marketing. In a few hours of undisturbed time, you could create a new seminar or produce a month’s worth of articles, blog posts, emails, or social media content.

Getting things done in burst mode doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing throughout the week, however. The above mentioned author uses snippets of time throughout the week to take care of administrative and less demanding tasks related to his writing. You can, too.

During your Saturday marketing session, you might plan out the people you want to call that month. With your plan in hand, you can take a few minutes each week day to make those calls.

You can also use your weekdays to make notes and outlines and collect research material in preparation for your Saturday session.

Being productive is simple. Figure out what you want to get done this week or this month. Look at your calendar and decide when you’re going to do it. Then, do it.

As long as you’re getting important things done, when you do them probably isn’t that important.