Change Through Better Time Management

Utilizing Your Time to Create a Better Practice and Life

Work, Work, Work

Busyness is a commonly accepted hazard of the modern-day lawyer.

Law school both prepares and subtly reinforces the narrative that enough busyness eventually translates to productivity, success, and wealth. And law students regularly buy into that narrative, willingly sacrificing their current relationships, hobbies, and mental health for the promise of an eventual payoff.

But many lawyers – perhaps like you - then graduate from law school, join a firm (or create their own), and then find themselves with the anticipated busyness – but none of the touted benefits. Instead, they find:

  • There are never enough hours in a day to do all the work.
  • The daily grind is stressful, and overwhelming.
  • Other lawyers seem free of these constraints, but how?
  • Change (or failure) feels imminent.

Many lawyers find themselves trapped in an endless loop. Work turns into more work. Lawyers find themselves not only managing a huge volume of it, but much of this work feels uninspiring and is unrewarding (in every way imaginable).

Before long, disenchantment, disappointment, and burnout creep in and many lawyers either quit, or resign themselves to the rat race for the foreseeable future, pinning their hopes once more on a cloudy future.

Changing the Story with Time

I created the New Law Business Model, in large part, while I was in just such a loop. While outwardly successful – with appearances on national television and working for high pay at a prestigious firm, I found myself deeply discontent. I felt the nagging feeling that you might have felt through the years: “Is this it? There must be more.”

There is more. And the New Law Business Model seeks to show lawyers what that more is, and how to accomplish it for themselves. But one of the first hurdles many of our member lawyers have to clear is eradicating the belief that the answer lies in doing more. In spending more time working, or marketing, or meeting with potential clients.

What we’ve found is that using time in this way severely limits most lawyers. When lawyers try to take on more work, they often shortchange their clients (who they now have less time for), deliver services of a lower quality (because they have less time to perform them), and earn less (because no one wants to pay a premium price for a hurried product). Not to mention the damage that “doing more” does to the lawyer’s mental health, home life, and ability to rest.

No, if lawyers like you are going to break out of the endless loop, it will be by radically changing the way they run their practice AND by learning a better system of time management.

But what does that system look like?

Start by Using Time as Your Ally, Not Your Enemy

The habit researcher James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, points out an interesting lesson on viewing time. Clear explains that most of us perceive time as the natural enemy of our progress and goals. But that’s because many of us have an unhealthy relationship with time, due to a perpetuation of bad habits.

Clear suggests that when we cultivate bad habits, time becomes the enemy. Because a bad habit, over time, leads to all kinds of negative consequences.

But when we cultivate good habits, time becomes the ally. Because a good habit, over time, leads to all kinds of positive consequences.

Time management, as a positive or negative, directly relates to whether we’ve created and upheld good habits in our lives, or bad ones.

When it comes to our members, what we often see is that many of them come to NLBM having cultivated some poor habits around their work, and conversely around their time management. So, we begin by helping them realize that the goal isn’t to get them to use more of their time, but to utilize their time better, so they can spend less of it.

If what you want is to create a practice\life that generates more income, freedom, and opportunity, you have to begin by seeing time as your ally and not the enemy.

A Few Tips for Using Time Better

Once you’ve begun to embrace that time – well used – is your greatest ally, you can begin to fill that time with better habits. What kind of better habits?

We asked New Law Business Model’s Senior Law Advisor and Business Coach Kim Rockwood, a lawyer who rebuilt her practice and life using the NLBM process, to share a few of her favorite tips around time management.

Kim’s Tips:

1. Establish an activity hierarchy and categories

We split these into three general categories, which may or may not all apply to you.

    • 1st: Self care – that is time you spend improving yourself with rest, learning, play, and other activities.
    • 2nd: Family – time spent with loved ones, friends, and others who you want to pour into and who pour into you.
    • 3rd: Income - your business activities. NOTE that we’re saying “income” - not any kind of work. This is about the activities that generate revenue, not that novel you’ve been tinkering with for the past two years.

2. Leverage the 2 tiers of time blocking

    • Start with hours of the day
      • Schedule what activities you’ll do in each day
      • Pro tip: work with your energy – when are you at your most productive and engaged
    • Next days of the week
      • Schedule out what activities you’ll do only on certain days. As an example:
        • Mon, Tue are new client meeting days
          • Work on marketing if you’re not booked out to meeting with new clients
        • Wed, Thur do the work for clients
        • Friday work on the business (the most important day is to work on your most valuable asset, your business)

   3. Implement goal-based time management & stick to the plan

Goal-based time management helps lawyers once they’ve chosen 1 of the 3 proven models that we teach in the NLBM program. The general points are:

    • Take 2 days off to block out the next 12 months according to your business growth and lifestyle goals.
    • The Model you choose helps you calculate the frequency and ownership of activities per month in order to reach your goals.
    • For example: you may start at the Solo Practice Model and wish to transition to a Staffed Practice in 6-12 months’ time. And then you can scale to the 7 Figure Firm model after that. Use your goal-based time management to achieve just that.

   4. Bonus Tip: Plan “Reactive Time”

Inevitably things come up during the day that you haven’t planned to do. A client calls and needs something, etc.

Rather than changing your plans for the day, and risking not getting something done, plan “Reactive Time” into each day so you can fit unexpected things in. When a client calls and says, “I need X, can you get it to me this week?” you can say, “Yes. I can get that to you by Thursday at 4:30.” And deliver every time!

Your clients will be impressed, and it will create further trust and connection with them. Just this one simple change can help move your business forward leaps and bounds.

More Time Management Strategies at your Fingertips

We’re only just beginning to scratch the surface of how to create better time management through better habits. But hopefully the 4 tips above will give you a good starting place from which to evaluate your own practice and lifestyle, and help you decide how to prioritize and organize your schedule moving forward.

At the end of the day, breaking out of the infinite loop of working more to do more work comes down to your time – the most valuable resource you have at your disposal. While of course you can’t create more of it, you also can’t lose any of it. You can only decide what habits to put in place to govern the time you do have.

We hope the above strategies will help you learn to use your time better, instead of trying to just use more of it.

To learn more about the New Law Business Model, and how you can build an entirely new practice that’s good for you, your clients, and your bottom line, consider scheduling a time to speak with one of our Law Business Advisors to see if our program is a good fit for you.