Personal Productivity for Lawyers
This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.
Even though we are usually ready and willing to dig into the dirty, ugly, underside of our clients’ circumstances, we often shy away from putting our own practice and own behaviors under the microscope.
We encourage our clients to fully disclose details to us, to bare their souls, and to tell us things that they would never tell another living person. But when it comes to our own businesses (and lives), we stick our heads in the sand, unwilling to look at the things we would rather not deal with or know we have been ignoring far too long.
Here are some places where you can “get real” with yourself:
- Your finances. Gulp. What are you spending? What are you making? Especially for those of us with our own practice, put things down on paper. What are you spending money on? Is it serving you? Is it giving you a good return on your investment? I run into so many folks who don’t even know what they are spending each month on their businesses or what they are actually bringing in. They are just “winging it” with a blindfold on and their head turned away, hoping and assuming everything will be all right. That is not a smart way to run a business. You must know your numbers, so get real about what is coming in and what is going out. Only then can you create a plan for upping your income and reducing your expenses, thus giving you the kind of financial return you really want.
- Your skills. Do you think you are God’s gift to the world in just about every imaginable skill? You can lawyer. You can bookkeep. You can write. You can manage your own website. You can do everything. You can replace the toner cartridge. You are Superman/Wonderwoman! Okay — I hate to be the one to break it to you — but you aren’t. You can’t do everything. You are likely very good at a few things and not so hot at many others. It’s all right to be human. What to do? Take an honest assessment of yourself. What do you love to do and are very good at? What do you love to do but aren’t very good at? What do you hate doing but keep doing anyway? In an ideal world (and business), you should be doing only the things you enjoy and only you can do (and do fantastically.) DELEGATE the rest! There are people out there who can help you. Hire a bookkeeper. Get an assistant. This is also cost-effective — you will be paying these lovely people far less than your own hourly rate, so in the end you gain time, peace of mind, end up with a better result, and you were able to use your time in a more profitable way. Get real about your skills, and find folks to support you in areas where you are not the strongest so you can focus on those places you are brilliant! (I also use virtual assistants, so let me know if you want to learn more about that option. It’s a great option!)
- Your time. What are you spending your time on? Are you making the most of your time, or is there a good chunk of your time that is sucked away by tasks you should not be doing at all or that others could be doing much better/faster/cheaper than you? You can increase the hours that you are billing (again, increasing that bottom line) by getting ruthless about how you spend you time. Take a look at your to-do list and think about whether you can (1) ditch certain tasks that don’t need to be done, (2) simplify the tasks to make them quicker, (3) automate things so they are systemized and take less time, or (4) delegate (see point above.)
When you start getting real about things like your money, your skills, and your time, you will find you feel better about your financialy situation (or at least in better control of it,) you are doing more of what you love and less of what sucks the life out of you, and you are making better use of your own time. Take a look in the mirror, get honest with yourself, make a plan to improve, and get to work on it!