The more I’m working one to one with attorneys, the more these common themes keep showing up: lack of skill set, mindset/behavior for business development and that pesky time management issue. They don’t know how to find the time to build their book of business. Or I have clients who are working with clients who are well a royal pain. Then there are the ‘eagles’ as I call them, they know and are good at business development but can’t wrap their head around the drudge factor. They need systems in place so that they can grow, rather than being bogged down by the “drudge factor”.
During the VIP Business Intensive, I help my clients identify time wasters during their work day. Time wasters will eat up your time and prevent you from focusing on what’s really important. The question to ask here is: Are you getting things done OR are you making things happen?
Productivity and creativity requires a complete break from our 24-7 wired technological world. Below are some suggestions for you to start implementing so that you are making things happen rather than putting out fires and getting things done!
1. Not enough time off
My instructor from Equinox reminded me of this today. His words were: “Your body has a right to relax, rejuvenate and recover. Take care of you physical and emotional health now or pay big time later. Your choice.” I heard him loud and clear.
To be truly effective, one does need to step back and re-energize yourself.
Professionals, especially lawyers, waste time when you keep doing, doing, and doing, without taking enough breaks to reflect and re-energize. Consequence of not taking time off is that your health will reach a crisis point.
2. Lack of planning, prioritizing and focus
Without these, you’ll find yourself drifting and unable to leverage your business development activities. Your work will be scattered and disconnected. Again, you’ll not have time to invest in your priorities, but will waste energy on activities that are not moving you towards your vision. You’ll feel directionless. Your productivity will drop and you will inhibit the momentum required to be effective and efficient.
Putting things off wastes not only your time, but also your physical and mental energy. When you procrastinate, time is wasted on thinking and worrying about the things you need to do and berating yourself for not getting them done. The key is to focus on activities that move you toward your vision.
Interruptions may include the telephone, people dropping into your office, and unanticipated events, such as calls from the press or visitors. Interruptions distract you from focusing on what is important at any given moment.
Have times during your work day when you focus on work without any interruptions. Than use that power time to get things done. Importantly, don’t use that power time to make personal calls.
5. Lack of delegation
The whole point of delegation is doing things that you excel and delegating other activities to staff.
I know many lawyers, especially solo practitioners, who fall into the trap of thinking that they need to do everything because no one ever does it as good as they do it or they do it because they don’t have the resources to hire someone. Get help. If you don’t, what will happen is far too much time spent on wrong activities and then insufficient time to focus on what you really excel at strengths and abilities.
6 . Knowing when to say NO!
Taking on too much work adds excessive pressure and prevents you from working at your best. I’ve seen lawyers who are in famine mode taking on more than they can handle with business development activities. While the intent is good, what ends up happening is that everything takes longer.
If you can’t say no, it means you don’t value your time and you are allowing others to choose how you should spend it. I strongly recommend getting help especially with marketing plans so that you are doing he right things to build your book of business and not doing thing everything in haphazard way.
7. Lack of organization and tidiness
Clutter zaps your energy. Not only does it hinder your effectiveness, it wastes time as you try to sort through the mess. Don’t leave current client files on the chairs, put them away. Space gives you clarity of mind which leads to focus.
Bottom-line: clutter is a distraction that prevents you from making the most of your time. When you are disorganized, much time can be spent doing the same thing repeatedly. While these tips are not rocket science, just implementing one of them will free up time during the day which’ll add up to more than 1 hour a week. Bottom-line: the results will be in effect and then you can modify what worked and what didn’t. Otherwise, it’s all just theory.
Don’t waste time, expecting things to change when you are doing the same. Oftentimes, its very difficult to see our own blind spots. The bottom line, no amount of money can EVER bring back the time we’ve lost. Time is our most precious asset. Get help.