Intimidation can happen any time. During the holiday season, intimidation and distraction often gallop hand-in-hand throughout law offices. Limited court hours, limited availability of witnesses and opposing counsel, and wondering how you’re going to stay on top of everything can make you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle. In this post, you’re going to learn some valuable productivity tips that can help you stay ahead of the game and crush intimidation at its root.
Determine the Root Cause of Intimidation
Why do we get distracted? The truth is, a myriad of reasons contribute to it. One of the main reasons is intimidation. We have this overwhelming feeling (and, often, overwhelming thoughts) that make us feel as if we simply cannot do whatever it is that we need to do. It is a hard feeling to resolve.
Yet, resolving it must be a priority before it increases your risk of facing an ethics complaint from the bar. To resolve intimidation so that you can be more productive, you have to identify exactly what is intimidating you. Is it your entire to-do list? If so, you have some options. Go through it and remove the things that really aren’t a priority right now. If there are items left that still intimidate you, you’re still off to a good start. Keep in mind that the longer you allow those tasks to remain on your to-do list, the more intimidation you’ll feel.
For those items making you uncomfortable, think about why they intimidate you. In her article on crushing intimidation, Megan gives two great examples on doing this: finding upcoming CLE presentation opportunities and building a website. Both require lawyers to really think about what is bothering them. For the CLE presentation example, Megan mentioned lawyers dealing with “imposter syndrome” as well as a fear of public speaking. For website building, she mentions the possibility of the feeling rising from being afraid to talk with a web developer because lawyers aren’t always up-to-date on best practices and the vocabulary used during those sorts of discussions.
Once you identify the root cause of the feeling, you’re better able to solve it. You can take classes on public speaking. You can read some articles on basic web design so that you can hold a conversation. You can find resources to deal with the root of the problem. This is the number one productivity tip we can give you.
More Productivity Tips for Lawyers
Productivity tips are all over the Internet. Yet, there’s an important point that you should keep in mind. Not all productivity tips work for everyone. It’s okay if you try some and they don’t work for you. It’s okay if you modify them to make them work better for you. So, keep an open mind. Obviously, we’re not listing all of the productivity tips found on the Internet. If we miss one that you use and that you believe would be highly beneficial to others, drop it in the comments!
Create a list. We know this seems extremely basic. We don’t want you to write down every little thing you need to cram into your day (unless that works for you). We want you to make a list of the things that must be done or addressed today. You can use Evernote, Google Keep, OneNote, Outlook Task Manager, or just a notebook. Whatever works for you is best. Once you create your list, prioritize it. What is most important?
Plan ahead. Take time at the end of every day (and on every Sunday) to plan ahead. What does your week look like? Taking 15 minutes to plan ahead is 1% of your day that you use to control your future time. Add can’t-miss deadlines and appointments to your calendar first. Look at your other to-do items. Are there any you can delegate? While delegation itself is one of the most powerful productivity tips, coming up with your list beforehand can make the entire process less stressful.
Embrace the deep work concept. Deep work is a concept that helps you create a focused time for you to buckle down and get a lot of work done. There’s even a book about the concept. Some of takeaways you can use include:
- Turn off your social media notifications. Social media will be there later.
- Create a strict amount of time that you will spend working and focus it on your most important projects. This is the time when you’ll work on your most pressing deadlines. Try to make this a time that you feel most focused and naturally energetic.
- Think about how you can improve processes during your commute or exercise time. It’s okay to zone out a little during this time. You’d be surprised at the work your brain will continue to do on your behalf.
- Use the 4 Disciplines of Execution: focus on what’s incredibly important; act on lead measures; use a visible tracking system so that you know exactly what you’re doing with your time; and create a way that you can be held accountable.
- Find the time wasters and limit them. Email is necessary. Spreadsheets are often necessary. In the digital world, messaging your team through Slack or Trello is necessary. But they can also be a waste of your time. Those little tasks are a nice distraction, but they can really eat up your time. Schedule specific times to handle those little items.
Take a break. It sounds counterproductive, but it’s not. Sometimes, your brain just needs a break. There are a lot of productivity methods, such as Pomodoro and the 90/20 method, that advocate for working a specific amount of time and then taking a break for a set amount of time. It’s a great way to refresh your eyes and your brain. Breaks can be a work-out in the middle of the day, taking a walk, yoga, meditation, listening to a podcast, or doing whatever it is you want to do.
Delegate! Delegation really is one of the best productivity tips for lawyers. What can someone else handle for you? This can be administrative work, social media marketing, or help with active cases that doesn’t require a law license. Your time is precious. It should be spent doing what only you can do.
Protect Your Productivity
There are only so many hours in a day. Lawyers face a bigger risk of substance abuse and burn out when compared with other professions. Do yourself a favor and use the productivity tips that work best for you and gain more control over your day. You’ll be glad you did!