Showing posts with label Manage Time. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manage Time. Show all posts

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Practice Target - a 6 month Transformation Program

If you found this, you know me, or someone you trust does. This is truly shameless promotion. Shameless because it's a great program! Heads up.

Well, I finally invested quite a bit in copywriters and designers for my baby, The Practice Target, and I have had the worst luck with getting a new site launched and a sales page up. If something could get in the way, it did. Which is why I'm going to give you information here. On my in-transition to G+ blog. 

I have a six month group program called The Practice Target, starting in October- so it's time for imperfect marketing action on my part. Here's the scoop, it's a LONG description, so you have the chance to really "get" what the program is about- in short, the next step is to schedule a conversation if you're interested.

Bad news? Not a lot of prep time or time to choose. And that's the good news too. Think about that.

Here’s How I Can Help You Grow

I've designed a 6-month program called The Practice Target. I’ll personally guide you through a transformation of your business. By the end of the course, you will have gone through a series of significant changes to your business.

The key point I’d like you to remember is that I’m there with you during the entire process. Each step is part of a gradual process that will result in an entirely new legal practice.

I’d like you to think of my course as a menu. I’ll offer you proven solutions and you’ll begin selecting the changes you believe are most important to your business. Remember, you are in charge. Over time, you’ll probably want to add more and more of the elements into the mix.

Very simply: each change you make will have an effect on your practice. When you implement more than one of these elements, your practice will begin to transform.

I’m not saying this to hype my program. I’m saying this because it’s the experience of the lawyers who have worked with me already.

Here’s Your Practice Target Roadmap

Month One: Time Management

It’s the number one frustration most lawyers face. Where does the time go? Most lawyers do not effectively manage their time. And what we’re really talking about is self management, not time management. Let me be perfectly clear. This has nothing to do with making lists or using alarms, buzzers or bells to keep you on task.

This is about your choice to manage your time and it sets the pace for all the work we will do together. There can only be one person managing your practice. And that person is you. This is the key principle which distinguishes between a well-run practice and one that runs in “last minute” or “crisis mode.”

We start our work together by putting you in charge of your time rather than the circumstances of the day.

Month Two: Setting Goals For Your Practice

In order to know whether a room is hot or cold, you need a thermometer. If it’s cold, you raise the thermostat. If it’s hot, you lower the thermostat. It’s that simple.

Before we work together on growing your practice, we need to take its temperature. Together we will determine which way to turn the dial.

Most lawyers I work with need to turn the dial up – some by a great deal. This is not a reflection on your skills, talents or compassion as a lawyer. It’s just that you didn’t take any courses on growing or managing your practice. You were just thrown in and what you've achieved is because of your determination.

Now it’s time to grow and set specific goals for your practice.

Month Three: Getting Clients – A Step By Step Plan

This month is about creating a marketing plan that works for you. In this section, we’re going to decide who is the best client for you to work with. (Hint: it’s not anyone with a pulse who walks in the door -even if they’re carrying cash.)

We’re going to decide whom we want to reach and how we want to get through to them. In addition, we will decide what we want to say to them when we have their attention.

It’s the non-sleazy marketing plan built to last. You will never be stuck sitting in their office wondering what to do first or next to get clients after this month.

Month Four: Your Marketing In Action

This is the month that will forever change your mind about the potential of your practice. This is where the rubber meets the road.

This is about making breakthroughs in your practice and discovering what is possible. Here we move from theory into day-to-day, boots on the ground. You’ll be transforming your practice and recreating it in your target image. Just like no two fingerprints are exactly alike – no two legal offices will do things exactly the same way.

You’ll be in at the bottom floor seeing the effect of the marketing program YOU chose. You’ll be astounded as you discover that getting more of the clients you want to work with is easier than you thought. There's no doubt that legal marketing can have a long cycle time, but by now, you will see a difference. You will know what to do to build your practice.

Month Five: Building Systems For Your Practice: Your Key To Having Clients and A Life At the Same Time

The way to run an efficient office is to have systems installed. This way, when something happens, your office experiences the equivalent of a speed bump, rather than a crash.

If you use systems to run your office, it’s a much more professional office.

Let me give you an example. You've planned this summer vacation with your family for a year. Your kids have been looking forward to it since you told them. You’re packed and ready to go when suddenly, disaster strikes.

A member of your team becomes ill or wins the lottery and quits. Someone else is going to have to cover that work.

And your kids send you pictures of their vacation via text message. Unless…

You have the right systems in place to make sure a new staff member can step into the job and be up to speed in rapid time. No, this isn’t Disneyland. Law offices like yours can be systematized so they run more efficiently. When I talk about systems, I'm talking about establishing processes, templates, checklists, standards and the like. I don't recommend specific technology brands, but we will discuss technology to support your work and workflow.

When your office is purring on all cylinders, you’ll never be torn about whether or not you can spend time with your family.

When your office runs without you dealing with every detail, you can be more engaged with your clients giving them the highest caliber representation.

Month Six: Sound Financial Management

I put Financial Management in here even though my clients are lawyers. Most of my clients can handle multiple trust accounts, crunch numbers in divorce settlements, and even keep track of wily accountants. But when it comes to tracking their own numbers, lawyers are way less effective.

Just about every law office I've worked with needs some guidance in this sector. Let’s face it, it’s exciting to see revenue coming in, but boring to truly manage the bottom line. Sometimes it’s scary to face the facts. Challenging to think about actually charging what your work is worth.

Now understand I put this last in the sequence for two reasons:

Number one: by this time I should have built a level of credibility in your eyes.

Number two: most of my clients are very hesitant to admit they need help in this area.

This falls into the area of “Shhh. Don’t talk about it.” No one wants to admit their practice is deficient in this area. But once we make some simple but solid changes, it will have a positive benefit on your practice and your life.

Bonus: Month Seven: Putting It All Together

I include a seventh month as a bonus. Here’s where you graduate but ONLY after I show you how to efficiently integrate all that you have mastered.

In this month, we’ll make sure that you not only know what to do and how to do it but you've also implemented it.

It’s one thing to know ABOUT the topics we've covered. It’s another thing to actually DO them. Day in. Day out.

I want to make sure you do not feel overwhelmed or as if you are still juggling those balls or spinning plates.

I want you fully comfortable that you can maintain your new level of achievement without frustration.

Then and only then will I feel that I have helped you fully achieve your goals.

What’s Next?

Remember how I told you I hate hard selling? Well it’s true. I’d like to invite you to a private conversation with me. This is a conversation – not a sales pitch.

If you are ready to end the frustration and grow your legal practice, I’d like to chat with you.

The consultation is probably an eye-opening experiences that you will encounter in thirty minutes or less. It is an enormously interesting experience. I’ve helped dozens of lawyers find enduring solutions to their practice challenges.

First... I will deeply listen to your situation.

Second... we will explore your own problems and solutions. You will see the possibility of creating this change with the support of a coach and a group of like-minded professionals.

Third ...we will determine if you really want to change your practice model.

Then....if you are a good candidate for program and only if growing your practice is something you really want to commit to... only then... will we discuss our Practice Target program. I've found that whether you have a new practice or have been established for years, we probably can get you better, faster, easier, and more…actually, enduring, results.

Last... You decide. No pressure. No sales. Just a powerful, personal meeting. I give you my word.

I’m either right for you or I am not. You will know it at the consultation that you have with me.

I have a high documented success rate for almost everyone that follows the simple, clear program we lay out together.

Because of the amount of time I spend with each client as well as the group, I actually have a hard limit on the number of clients I work with at any time. If I can not accept you into the October program, I will place you on the waiting list for the next time a place opens.

I am not looking for a commitment to the program. Just the opportunity to spend some quality time with you on the phone.

Please click here to fill out the brief questionnaire and schedule your consultation.

It’s the first step to a new practice.  #lawpracticemanagement#

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Work Life Balance is a Crock? So What.

If I see one more person belittling the notion of balance or the myth of balance or the like, I’m going to reach through the screen and punch him. Or her. Or you? Yes, there’s no such thing as work/life balance. Yes, there’s no way to “have it all.” Yes, you are superior and far too intelligent and sophisticated to indulge in such fantasies.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

51 Weeks Of Pace: There Are Many Paths

And now- a change of pace, a guest post by Nora Rubinoff, who helps make Successfully Solo a great place for me to work! Enjoy- Barbara

On day three of the 5:30 am fitness boot camp that I'd enrolled in, I collapsed in my office mid-morning. I spent six hours (and goodness knows how many thousands of $) in the ER. My heart and blood are fine, thankfully. The doctor finally ruled it as exhaustion. There is something about getting hit with a 2 x 4 that knocks sense into most of us. It took me being found by my son, collapsed, on the floor in my office, to realize that maybe I'm pushing myself a little too hard. We're all our worst critics, right? I've certainly been my own. Full disclosure - I'm not so tough.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Time blocking doesn't work for you? Try something different.

Still not feeling completely satisfied with how you spend your time?

Amber Rae's How to Schedule Your Day for Peak Performance is a terrific take on what I call time blocking. As always, it's the notion of thinking broadly about what is important to you- and then using planning to help make sure that you align to those priorities.

Rae's piece is aimed at 'creatives', but many lawyers fall into that category.

Friday, March 22, 2013

51 Weeks of Pace: Get it Done

A week from today is the last Friday of the first quarter of this "best-year-ever" year.

What exactly do you want to put on your list and check off as "done" by the end of Q1?

To-Do List System

Write it down. Connect it to your calendar/schedule. Look at it daily. Get it done.

Feel AWESOME. Celebrate. Move forward with more energy and momentum.

You are amazing. You know you will do it. Make the list. Ready, set...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

51 Weeks of Pace: Routine Set-Backs

March holds all kinds of madness. Conference and kids’ spring breaks are on the agenda for many clients. In a recent mastermind meeting, updates were full of the impact of interruptions to routine.

This mastermind group has had great success creating routines and habits that help them get more done in less time. For the most part, we’re talking about the practice of planning ahead, checking in with the plan, and following it. Habits like spending 15 minutes at the end of a day to prepare for the next day, updating calendars throughout the day, recording activities ongoing, and setting boundaries around time-wasting activities.

But for some reason, when the work location changed, these routines fell apart. And, as we head to the end of the first quarter, with folks racing to meet their first quarter goals- the loss of momentum was what you might call “a big deal”.

Here’s what the group came up with:

Monday, March 4, 2013

No way you'd check email just once a day? Check this out!

Recently, I was delighted to receive this email autoresponder:

Thank you! Your email is received, and I will reply within the next 24 hours.I've found that I serve my clients better when I can check email once a day, so I appreciate your patience while I devote my full attention to one client at a time.Of course, if this is an urgent matter, please call my office at [nnn-nnn-nnnn]. I will return your call promptly. 

I've changed it a bit and I'd add a thank you- but you get the idea. If you can't handle the thought of checking email once- then make it twice. Block time on your calendar, too- or you won't be much better off than if you let your email interrupt you all day long.

Be brave- try it! Let me know what happens. Bet the good outweighs the bad.

OH NO! I couldn't! Could I? Heck YES. Yes you can!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

51 Weeks of Pace: Focus & Finish

The 30th of the month. Still time to complete/clear the decks of anything that is nearly done.  What you complete this month will impact your business and your health in the future. Contacts you've made, connections you have nourished, work you've billed. Habits you've started or ones you've finally quit.

Sometimes the best thing you can do to maintain a good pace is to finish strong. 

Clear anything that is almost done. Check in with the goals you had for January- anything left to check off the list?  Do what you can to achieve the goals you had for the month and set the stage for February.

Park the ideas on your idea board, get off the e-cycle, manage interruptions.  Focus and finish strong.

If you have a whole year of strong finishes, isn't it going to be your best year ever?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

51 Weeks of Pace: Basic Training!

Keeping pace with me this year? Welcome! Perhaps you enjoyed the leap last week?

Now that we've broken in the year, but before we reach the end of the first month, there are some basics that you have to take on in order to stay on track and out of the doghouse. (It might be a doghouse you have to put yourself in, but it's a doghouse.)

  1. You must always know your practice targets. You have to know why you are working, and what results you want to create in your life. We're talking financial, time, and impact targets. I do know there are those of you who are genuinely not motivated by money. In that case, the minimum standard of financial target is break-even for your practice and your retirement savings. Sad Dog in Doghouse

  2. You have to choose a marketing focus. You need to have a hypothesis about who your target prospects are and how you are going to serve them in order to meet your practice targets. This focus starts at the highest level with "market segment" and is defined more and more until it's a specific person's name. You need this to direct your marketing actions. 

  3. You need to develop a habit of making three quality marketing connections a week. We can argue about the number and the "quality" part, but let's do it offline. That's to maintain a practice. Growing? You can guess. It's higher.

  4. Timekeeping, billing and collections must be done TIMELY. You can set your standard, I suggest timekeeping daily, billing and collections monthly, on a schedule. Even if you're not billing time- keep time. Then you have the data to verify whether your fees  are in line, or if you're taking cases that are unprofitable. Billing is a client service. Be timely. 

  5. You have to have a contact management process, and it's best to support that with technology. Really. If you don't start and maintain your contacts from the time you have ten of them, then, when you have a lot more, you don't have time. And THEN- you never get the dang Arbor Day cards out. Here's a link to a Michael Port resource that discusses some base level CRM as well as the 10-ton big trucks of CRM systems. (Yep, Book Yourself Solid is a good resource. Check it out. Use it. Don't get lost in it.)

  6. You must spend time weekly to review your status and plan your time the following week. Weekly planning. Must do it. I want you to do daily reviews too.

  7. You must have a client intake process and you need to think about how to welcome clients to your practice as well. The real sale is after the sale. (Someone said it, I don't know who, apologies.) Your first impression needs to be professional. Good intake also makes your life easier.

Had enough? All right. I'm going to stop. These are all important. Get these ducks in a row to stay out of the doghouse. PACE. Big trucks. Mixed metaphors. Bad writing. Good list!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Too Expensive? What Would the Bargain Have Cost You?

"The work was amazing. Really excellent work. Thorough, creative and delivered right on time. She's very good, but it was expensive."

That's what a lawyer told me about working with a freelance attorney. Terrific that the lawyer had the wisdom to know when to delegate. Fantastic that the experience was a very good one. Because, so often, outsourcing work results in wasted time, money and energy.

Has it happened to you? Ever outsourced something only to have to do it yourself anyway? Ever had to beg for the work to be completed, even though deadlines are long past? Answer a million questions that the vendor should not have had to ask? What about the energy- how does it impact you to be faced with an inferior product late in the game? Work you have to "fix" or, worse, "make do". Anger. Frustration. Exhaustion, because you didn't have time to do it in the first place.

So- whenever I hear of an outsourced project that goes well, just as it should, even better than expected- I celebrate. I'm a fan of leverage. Outsourcing can be a wonderful option and it's good to find those providers that I can recommend without hesitation. There's a lot on the line for the lawyer who delegates. Too expensive? I wonder. Maybe that lawyer needs to raise her fees to protect her margin. Maybe she's not charging what her own work is worth.

I'm not saying that there's a one:one relationship between price and quality. We all know that's not true. (I'm looking at you, are your fees appropriate?) Sometimes a bargain can be just that- a bargain. Likewise, sometimes an expensive resource can turn out to be an overpriced disaster. However, if you find someone to trust, but you think they're too expensive to use- reconsider. Outsourcing is like buying time and experience. You get more of each, if you're lucky. If you find a great resource- figure out how to make it work for you.

Dollars are the most obvious measure of expense, but sometimes, within reason, not the most important one.

Note: Lisa Solomon is the fantastic freelancer referenced here. You can see a LOT of testimonials on her website. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Forget what you did today? 3 habits every lawyer should have.

“I was really busy last week and I got a lot done, but I have no idea what it was.”

Clock with wings

Happens all the time.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Just Say "Yes" to Ruin Your Firm's Reputation

You can do everything, but you can't do everything at the same time. Words to live by. If you don't have the capacity to deliver an acceptable level of service and attention, turn business down or delay it until you open up more capacity. It's a problem solos deal with all the time.

You do legal work. You do the work of managing your practice. You have to know how much time you need for both, and what that translates to in terms of your availability. Taking business you can't handle is the worst client service move you can make. You'll become someone who is afraid of phone and email inquiries from clients that are on stalled on the runway. You're at risk for delivering work that doesn't represent your capabilities. You are at real risk of missing deadlines. Reputational risk rises with every day you can't meet your commitments.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Laboring on Labor Day?

Me too.  I'm revising a money worksheet I've been using to focus the Get Clients Now! classes.  The gist of the money worksheet is to help you to logically (& without flinching) think through:

  • Your target revenue per year/month

  • Target revenue per client or matter, focusing on your area of practice

  • Estimated number of clients you need to close to deliver your target revenue

  • The number of prospects you need to talk to or otherwise connect with to convert one into a client

  • The total number of prospects you need to speak to in order to convert enough to reach your revenue goal

The worksheet conversation kicks off the program because all of the action we take over the 6 or 7 weeks of Get Clients Now!  is aimed at generating an adequate pool of prospects and then ensuring you have an effective conversion rate. 

Whether you take the class starting tomorrow or not- think through the money worksheet concept.  Facing facts might just kick you off on your own "get clients now" program!  The first step in this business-building journey is to name your destination.

(bet you thought this was going to be about time management, right? nope. even with time blocking, sometimes you just have to work on the holidays!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Anti-procrastination artillery!

Newsflash!  A reader tried this and it was more of a distraction than a plus, so proceed with caution. It's in early days, perhaps it will evolve.  Back to pre-tech distraction management. Dang.

There's a new big gun in the campaign against procrastination. Obtract  is a Mac app that helps you stay focused by making it impossible to ignore the fact that you're distracted! 

You can use it privately, or, if you have co-workers or accountability partners, you can share information about your productivity or lack thereof. Got that? Other people will see how much time you're spending distracting yourself online. Recruit a partner for accountability and they'll have the facts you can't deny.  Use it privately to see the real numbers about how much time you're spending distracting yourself online and where you're doing it.

Creating games to help people solve problems and reach goals without adding stress is a tradition in coaching. Think about marketing scorecards or shifting a negative mindset by celebrating the number of rejections versus the number of sales.  Obtract creates an online game of productivity.

Here's what the designer says: "You can distract yourself, but you have to commit to it."  Instead of wondering where the day went after it's gone, you can make prioritization decisions in time to recapture momentum. Read the Fast Company article on Obtract to find out more.

If you're in on my goal of a procrastination-free week, this is a tool you might like to try!  Now.

(Windows version, please!)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What to Do When Too Much of "The Force" is With You

Was it just me or did you have a lot of people wishing you "Happy Star Wars Day" today? (May the 4th be with you)  Fun!  But when I thought about it, I realized I've exceeded my daily/weekly/monthly capacity for The Force. In fact, I need to clear my head.

Have you ever felt overstuffed?  Overwhelmed by ideas, information, and options?   As if there are a million things you should be doing?  Out of a billion you could be doing?  (That everyone else is surely already doing?)   Doesn't feel good.

When you get there- and you will, if you're curious, and you have goals, and you are interested in changing things- here's what you do next:
Nothing.  Change gears.  Distract yourself with something else.  Do something physical.  Let what's in your brain incubate.
Yup.  I'm usually an advocate of "GO".   Action.  Sometimes, though, you need time to let things incubate.   Did you know that incubation is a proven step in the innovation process?  A famous mathmatician, Henri PoincarĂ©,  developed a four-stage model of innovation, based on his analysis of his own mathmatical breakthrough in 1881.  PoincarĂ©'s four-stage model - conscious thought, unconscious thought (or incubation), illumination and verification continues to be studied and refined.  Einstein discussed his creative process in similar terms.

Ever been in the shower when all of a sudden, you come up with a brilliant solution to the problem you wrestled with every day the past week?   As a coach, I see it happen to clients all the time.   At some point between two sessions, something gets radically "unstuck".  Great progress is made when there was none the week before.  (remember, coaches don't do any work, our clients do all the work)

So, with thanks to Lynne, who reminded me where great action comes from, I resolve to let things incubate.  Not to worry.  To remember that I've felt this way before, right before I made a big leap forward.

How about you?  Too much on your mind?  You know what to do next.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Time to ditch the albatross?

References to the 'albatross' are "sometimes used metaphorically to mean a psychological burden that feels like a curse". You might remember The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Colerige. In that one, the albatross was definitely a curse. This is an albatross:
He might weigh up to 25 pounds, and his wingspan might be as much as 9 feet plus. Not something you want around your neck, for many reasons.

If you are attached to an albatross, something you just can't seem to get off your shoulders, your mind, your to-do list, now is exactly the right time to ditch it. Deal with it. Do it. Delete it. Ready or not. (especially that)

Once you lose the albatross, something really special might just show up. Good news. You'll have the time and energy first to recognize it, and second, to act on it.

Life is short. Struggle is optional. Ditch the big bird. Be available for new possibilities.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Make your lists work for you, not against you!

I love all things Getting Things Done by David Allen. It's a book, systems,  you can even find products on the shelf at Staples.  To be honest, I don't implement all of his ideas, or take them to the nth GTD degree, but I take what works for me and use it.  Now he's changed my mind about lists.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Good Habit: Take control of your online time!

Finally! Something brilliant to share.  Watch brief video about two applications that you can use today to tame your online excesses:  Mac Freedom and Rescue Time. Whether you're Mac or PC, you can give yourself an online time-out or set up analytics that make it impossible to ignore where you really spend your time.

If you're burning through your online time budget, cut it out.  No excuses.  On the other hand, if you've gone cold-turkey, been internet-paranoid, as I have, there's no reason to be afraid to go back in the water.   (whether you want to is an entirely different conversation!)

Note: the Successfully Solo time management class is being revamped. It had gotten fat and a bit sloppy.  New one rolls in March.  These tools are going to make for a good discussion.   If you have other tips and tools, do share!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Good habits: Track Time Daily

I've been procrastinating about getting a checklist of good habits out to you, so I thought I'd bite off a chunk and start with just one!  Whether you charge by the hour, or by flat fee, or on a contingency basis, track your time daily. I'm convinced it's the first thing you need to do to earn more income. New clients that pick up this habit recoup their first month's coaching fees in about a month, either because they remember more of the work they've done, or because they create better descriptive entries. Better entries mean speedier billing and fewer client inquiries.

I have never encountered anyone who enjoyed it. I don't have THE ONE RIGHT WAY for you to do it, but I do have some ideas for you to try:
  • Block checkpoint appointments on your calendar for time tracking.

  • Crunch times might push time tracking off the day's agenda, but set a standard that you'll never go more than 2 days without tracking time.

  • Two monitors might be the best idea for making time tracking easy, you can keep your time tracking software (even if it's excel or a list) up on one monitor all the time.

  • Speaking of software- use practice management software, I won't argue with you, I do recommend it heartily.

  • If you can't make yourself enter time directly into a program, then try keeping a notebook just for time tracking, by the phone.

  • Use dictation and have a staffer enter your time, still working towards a daily goal.
I think you'll notice yourself focusing more on your goals for work time as a result of tracking your time daily. It's part of a time management discipline- you'll be prioritizing with more information every day.  Track your time daily with a "never go more than 2 days w/o tracking time" rule, and just do it until it's a habit!

(Did you notice the procrastination tip? If you have something you're stuck on, try chunking it down to whatever small size works and tackle it. In my case, a 15 minute blog post for now.)