Finding time for getting things done


Spinning plates. Putting out fires. Treading water. Does this sum up a good portion of your day?

Lawyers are paid to solve problems. Other people’s, not our own. If you’re spending too much time solving your own problems, you won’t have time for things that advance you towards your most valuable goals. Like getting paid by more people to solve more of their problems.

Solving (your) problems is important. When someone quits, you have to find someone to replace them. When you are audited, sued, or charged with an ethical violation, you have to respond. But responding to problems like these only helps you keep the machine running. It doesn’t bring in new clients or additional revenue. Peter Drucker said, “Results are gained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.”

One good thing about problems is that they tend to repeat. It may be a few years before you have to deal with something again, but knowing that it will happen again allows you to prepare for it:

1. Make a list of problems that occur periodically. Small ones and big ones. Hiring and training new employees and temps, equipment leasing and purchasing, hiring vendors, moving offices, record retention, website security, and the list goes on. Add to your list throughout the year.

2. Create a system for handling each problem. Document your efforts to resolve the problem and minimize its consequences. Create checklists, forms/letters, and instructions.

3. Go through the list of problems and see which ones can be handled, at least in part, by someone else. Delegate responsibility for handling those problems (at least partially). Instead of running ads when you need to hire a new employee, for example, you might hire an employment agency.

It’s worth investing extra time in this project because it will save you time and headaches in the future. You’ll have more time for getting things done that help you grow your practice, instead of merely keeping the doors open.


How well do you know your clients and prospects?


Peter Drucker said, “The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

In other words, when there is a close match between what you offer and what your client wants and needs, you don’t need to persuade him to hire you, you need do little more than show up.

Do you know what your clients want? Do you know what keeps them up at night? Do you know what other options they have considered?

Do you know where they live and how much they earn? Do you know what they do for work and what they do on weekends?

You may not know these things if you are like most lawyers who define their target market merely in terms of legal problems. That is, anyone who has a certain legal issue is a potential client. That may be true in a literal sense, but if you stop there, you’ll never achieve the kind of synchronicity that draws clients to you and makes them immediately see you as the best solution.

You need to define your target market in terms of your ideal client. Who is an almost perfect match for you? You need to know your clients and prospects so you can focus your marketing efforts on attracting them.

If I tell you I know lots of clients I can refer to you but I need you to tell me what you are looking for, what would you say? When you can answer this question with specificity, marketing gets a lot easier.

I’ll be able to quickly identify clients who would be a good match for you and I will be able to tell them why they should contact you.

When your ideal client reads something on your website, they will know that they don’t need to look elsewhere, they’ve found the right lawyer.

When you are networking or on social media and someone asks you what you do, you’ll be able to tell them not only what you do but for whom you do it, making it more likely that they will self-identify.

Many lawyers are hesitant to define their ideal client, or publicize it, because they are afraid they won’t attract clients who don’t fit the profile. “If I say my ideal client is in the insurance industry, I won’t attract clients in the transportation field,” they say.

Yes, and that’s the point.

You don’t want to get the scraps in a variety of markets, you want the lion’s share in one market.

Big fish, small(er) pond?

Choose a target market. Define your ideal client. Get to know everything you can about them. And then offer them exactly what you know they want.

When you do, you won’t have to explain why anyone should choose you instead of any other lawyer. Everyone will know.

For help in defining your target market(s) and ideal client, get this.


5 simple steps for improving productivity


I’m going to give you a simple checklist for improving productivity. To use it, first make a list of everything you do in your work day. Do this over the course of a week so you don’t leave anything out.

Include everything: seeing clients, paperwork, calls, meetings, administrative. Include your commute and errands. Also include things you do during work hours that aren’t work related (e.g., playing games on your phone, coffee breaks, watching videos, etc.)

Once you have your list, go through every item. Look at the checklist and make notes. For best results, go through the list several times.


1. Eliminate. Ruthlessly purge anything that is unnecessary or does not contribute enough value to continue doing. Peter Drucker wisely said, “There is nothing less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.”

2. Delegate. Just because something must be done doesn’t mean you are the one who must do it. Assign these tasks someone in house or outsource them, so that you can do, “only those things that only you can do.”

3. Do it less. What could you do less frequently? If you do something daily, could you do it once a week? Once a month? What can you consolidate with other tasks? For example, can you do some of your reading or dictation during your commute?

4. Do it faster. What could you do in shorter chunks of time? If you routinely take an hour to do something, find ways to do it in 30 or 45 minutes. How? Eliminate or delegate parts, use forms and checklists, improve your skills, or get help (i.e., do it with a partner).

5. Do it later. Are you doing anything during prime time you could do after hours? What can you do when your energy is lower? Which tasks are routine or low priority and don’t require your full attention?

Improving productivity means improving effectiveness (doing the right things) and efficiency (doing things right). 80% of your improvement will come from steps 1 and 2 which focus on effectiveness. Eliminating and delegating things that don’t need to be done or could be done by someone else frees you up to do more high value tasks. The remaining steps will help you become more efficient at everything else.

The Attorney Marketing Formula shows you how to earn more by working smarter, not harder.


Increase Productivity with a Don’t Do List


Most people say they don’t like meetings. They’re boring. Nothing gets accomplished. The same information could have been delivered by memo.

The leaders say, “We’ve got to make our meetings better.” They read books and attend seminars. They hire consultants. They buy better equipment.

The meetings improve. They pat themselves on the back. Success.

Or not.

Instead of trying to improve their meetings, maybe they should have eliminated them.

One of my favorite Peter Drucker quotes is, “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.”

Go through your calendar. What meetings or conference calls could you safely eliminate?

Go through your tasks and project lists. What are you planning to do that should not be done at all?

Observe your daily work flow. Which steps could be eliminated? Which parts could be delegated?

Efficiency means doing things better. Effectiveness means doing the right things. It matters not how well you do things if they should not be done at all.

So try this: for the next seven days, compile a “don’t do” list. Write down everything you do that isn’t necessary or doesn’t contribute to your most important goals.

Take stock of whatever is left, whatever should be done. Look for ways to do them quicker, better, or more efficiently.

Make sure your partners and employees do the same. At your next office meeting…wait, never mind. Just send a memo.

Earn more and work less. Click here.


Are you getting the RIGHT things done?


three most important tasks for todayPeter Drucker once said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Far more important than “doing things right,” he said, is “doing the right things”.

Every day, I review my task lists and choose the three “most important tasks” for the day. My most important tasks are those which advance my most important objectives. My “MITs” go at the top of my list and I make an effort to do them before I do anything else. If I get these three things done, I consider it a good day.

Three is a good number, but sometimes there are only two. There are days when a fourth MIT slips through and makes it to my list, but I try to focus on no more than three.

Three MITs keeps me from getting overwhelmed by a longer list and gives me a sense of accomplishment. When I get my three MITs done, I then take care of less important tasks. Or, if it’s early in the day and I feel like it, I might add another MIT to the list.

At times, you may find it difficult to choose three MITs. You may have ten things that MUST get done today. No problem. Of the ten, which three are the MOST IMPORTANT? Make those your MITs and do them first.

Each day, you will have MITs and you will have other tasks. The other tasks may be important and need to be done. They may even be urgent. I’m not telling you to ignore these other tasks. Do them, but whenever possible, do them after you do your MITs.

The GTD methodology helps me to get things done. A daily list of MITs helps me to get the right things done.