Incessant telephone calls.
Meetings, and more (unproductive) meetings.
How on earth are you supposed to manage your time (aka billing 6.5+ hours every day) when you have to cope with all these distractions?
It all adds up to one Big Thing: a (professional) headache!
Time management courses are no longer in vogue. In the old days, you would have been presented with a nice, packaged product that you would have been expected to complete, but nowadays that seems so retro. You might use Outlook. You might even have signed up to a task management system.
But, in truth, in trying to manage yourself, it comes down to saying NO.
NO to the interruptions.
NO to the demands of those unsympathetic to your needs/wants.
NO to taking on new projects.
NO to new business development opportunities.
NO, NO, NO.
Closing the door – literally or otherwise.
But although I have no right or power to command you otherwise, let me politely suggest that you start looking at everything as an opportunity and change your dial to YES, YES, YES.
But before you ridicule me and say “I want a life”, you need to understand what you want to get out of law.
A better work/life balance.
To rapidly developing your career?
To becoming an acknowledged expert.
To becoming a better manager.
To being a leader.
To being the next managing partner?
Whatever it is, you need to focus on one key/vital/practically self-indulgent thing and then build your information stream around that. Very often the distractions that you are facing arise because you are trying to cover too much ground.
Simplicity is key.
You need to be Zen like in your focus and understand that the best lawyers are those that know what they want – they go to work on their career – rather than being controlled by circumstance i.e. the Technician mindset.
If I were in practice still, and focused on expert status, then I would go deep in my practice area for as long as I could sustain my enthusiasm and momentum whilst billing at a healthy rate. I would exclude everything that was not designed (by me) to help me grow.
As likely, I would carve out a day a week and make it clear to people that that was my practice development day and not to be disturbed (using a polite and sensitive message).
Understand that no matter how disciplined you are, you can never control every minute of your day. Expect the unexpected. Plan for the surprise. But don’t forget that if you don’t control as much as you can then you will find others will look to control you. And once you jump aboard the social media train don’t expect things to get any easier. You need to keep asking yourself: Is it working? And I don’t just mean growing your numbers. No, is it working in moving you along the path that you have set for yourself?
~ Julian Summerhayes ~