Are You a Procrastinator? [video]

Are you a procrastinator? Do you have some items that just sit on your to-do list forever and you just never get around to them?

Yesterday I was doing a presentation on productivity and one of the attendees said to me, “What do I do when I have tasks that I procrastinate on because I have anxiety about them, I’m concerned that I won’t be able to do them well, or they’re just tasks that I hate doing or tasks that I find boring?” 

I have a couple of strategies that might help you if you’re in any of these situations, and I’m sure all three of these are familiar probably to all of us. Scroll down to continue reading or watch the video below.

15-Minute Timer

The first one is what I call the 15-minute timer and it’s a version of the Pomodoro technique which I spoke about in a previous video. Essentially, you set a timer for 15 minutes and force yourself to do that task that you’ve been procrastinating on – and nothing else – only for 15 minutes. A lot of times what you’ll find is that once you get going it’s easy to continue. But you’ve already given yourself permission if you really hate the task to stop after 15 minutes and come back to it later. This can also help if you have anxiety around the task because often what happens once you get going, again, is that you find out it’s really not as bad as you thought it was and it’s not as difficult as you thought. Plus, you can endure even the most boring task for 15 minutes.

Give Yourself a Reward

The second strategy is to give yourself a reward. So a task that you’re procrastinating on that you know you need to complete, find something that will motivate you – that you will only do if you get that task done. Whether that might be taking time for yourself, or some kind of a treat, chocolate, whatever it might be, but you only get that reward if you get the task done. If you have anxiety around the task, oftentimes it helps just to find a colleague to maybe talk that task over with or find some other way to get help.

Do The Worst First

And finally, the last strategy that I would employ is what I call do the worst first. Whatever that task is that you’re procrastinating on, do that the very first thing in the morning when you arrive at work.

I’d love to hear your strategies for beating procrastination. Please put them in the comments below.

See more on productivity:

How Do Habits Affect Your Productivity? [video]

Did you know that about 40% of our daily life is shaped by our habits?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about habits, and that statistic comes from author Gretchen Rubin. Watch the video below (or scroll down to read) to learn how habits affect productivity.

If you have seen many of my previous videos, you will notice from the background in this video that I am not in my usual location. I typically record these videos in my home office in New York, but when I recorded this video, I was working from Florida.

What does that have to do with habits?

I have noticed that the change in location has also affected how I work and changed some of the habits I had established in working from home. One of those habits was recording a weekly video with my Videosocials home club.

Before I arrived in Florida, I was determined to continue attending my weekly Videosocials club meetings and recording videos. But that didn’t happen. I attended my Videosocials meeting the first week, but since my routine had already been disrupted, I didn’t record a video. The second week, I allowed a client to schedule a meeting that conflicted with my usual club time. I knew before we arrived in Florida that I wouldn’t be able to record at my usual time on week 3 because we were having friends visit that week. Here we are in week 4 and I’m finally recording a video. I won’t be able to record at my usual time next week either, because I’ll be speaking at a conference.

I could record a video with Videosocials by visiting another club, or I could record video at any time on my own, but I very rarely do that, in part, because it isn’t a habit. It isn’t on my regular schedule, and it isn’t part of my routine.

Once something becomes a habit, continuing that habit is almost effortless.

Research on habit formation has shown that behavior is likely to become habitual when it is frequently and consistently performed in the same context.

So why wasn’t I able to continue my video habit while working from Florida? Since the context had changed, even though the meeting was still on my calendar, it was harder to stick with it. What habits are you trying to cultivate?


Managing Clients’ Anxiety [video]

How well do you manage your clients’ anxiety?

Let’s face it, most of the time clients don’t come to see a lawyer when everything is great in their world. Usually, clients go to a lawyer when they’re in trouble, they’re facing some kind of problem, or they are facing challenging life circumstances. Even if a client comes to you because they are facing an opportunity, there is likely to be risk involved. All of these situations are stressful and anxiety-inducing. On top of that, now they have to deal with a lawyer.

Learn more about how to manage your clients’ anxiety in the video below, or scroll down to keep reading.

While you can’t do much about your clients’ stress or anxiety around the situation that brought them to you, you can do something about two kinds of anxiety that clients experience around your representation.

Those two kinds of anxiety are what I call substantive anxiety and process anxiety.

Substantive Anxiety

Substantive anxiety is anxiety around the legal subject matter of the client’s claim and the outcome the client can expect to achieve. These are the areas most lawyers typically address with clients during the initial consultation and communicate throughout the client’s matter.

They include things like:

  • “How much can I expect to receive from my personal injury settlement?”
  • “Will my spouse be able to prevent me from seeing my children?”
  • “Will I have enough assets left after taxes to take care of my children if something happens to me?”
  • “Will I lose my home if I file for bankruptcy?”

Process Anxiety

In addition to substantive anxiety, clients also have anxiety about the process. This is especially true for clients who have no previous experience with the law or this specific legal issue.

There are two parts to process anxiety. The first is anxiety about how the legal process works – for example:

  • “What is a deposition?
  • “Will I have to testify in court?”
  • “What is the probate process like?”
  • “How long will it take until my trademark is approved?”, etc.

The second is anxiety about the process of working with you. Clients are concerned about things like:

  • How often they will hear from you about their case, and how you will communicate with them;
  • What is the best way for them to reach you if they have a question or concern, and how available will you be for them?
  • How much will this cost, how will fees be charged? What is the total budget for the matter?

Make sure that you are addressing both substantive and process anxiety with your clients throughout the engagement, but especially at the beginning of your representation.

Are You a Control Freak?

Are you a control freak? Are you overwhelmed with work because you think you are the only one who can do everything, and do it right?

As lawyers, we are perfectionists – we’re over-achievers, so if this sounds like you, you’re not alone. But you’re doing yourself, your staff, and your clients a disservice. And probably your friends and family, too. Watch the video below (or scroll down to read more).

When you do everything yourself, you deprive your staff of the opportunity to learn and grow. Studies have shown that people thrive when they have challenging work to do. Your employees want to know that you trust them and that you think they are capable of doing more. When you don’t’ allow your staff to grow, they become bored and unhappy – and that may lead to turnover.

Doing everything yourself also contributes to stress and overwhelm, which leads to burnout and health problems. And you can’t possibly do your best work under those conditions. That means your clients will suffer.

When you’ve got so much on your plate that you can’t possibly get to it all, you’re bound to let something fall through the cracks. You may miss deadlines. You leave no room for innovation, and non-billable tasks fall by the wayside, including marketing and developing relationships. You’ll likely be fielding more calls from disgruntled clients wanting to know what is happening on their matter and when you will get back to them. It may even lead to a malpractice claim.

And if you’re constantly stressed, overwhelmed, and working late, you’re probably spending less time with friends and family, and when you are with them, you’re probably not as present as you could be.

It’s time to let some things go. It may be time to create a “don’t do” list, instead of a to-do list. To learn more about don’t do lists, watch my video on don’t do lists. Or contact me to see how I can help you identify what belongs on your don’t do list.

Do You Have a Don’t Do List? [video]

Do you have a don’t do list?

What the heck is a “don’t do list?”

Find out in this video – or scroll down to read more.

A don’t do list is the opposite of a to-do list. A to-do list contains all of the items or tasks you want to complete – all of the things you have to or want to do. A don’t do list is all of the things you shouldn’t do, don’t need to do, or want to stop doing.

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Remember – productivity isn’t just about getting the most things done in the shortest amount of time. And it isn’t all about efficiency – it isn’t all about getting things done in the fastest, most economical way possible. It’s also about choosing the right things to focus on and identifying what is most important to move your business forward. And it’s about ensuring that you have time to take care of yourself and enjoy your friends and family. Sometimes it’s easier to do that by thinking first about what isn’t so important and eliminating those things.

What should be on your don’t do list?

The don’t do list includes all of the things that don’t require your specific knowledge, expertise, or personal touch, or don’t contribute to your goals..

Your don’t do list can include everything from things that you shouldn’t do at all anymore, to things you can delegate to others, to technology, or even clients or areas of business that aren’t working for you anymore.

Again, I’m Allison Johs from Legal Ease Consulting. What does the don’t do list look like for you? Tell me in the comments below.

If you want to learn more about the don’t do list, check out the article I wrote on the topic:

Want more on Don’t Do Lists? Check out my article here: https://www.legaleaseconsulting.com/legal_ease_blog/2022/01/time-management-tip-5-create-a-dont-do-list.html.

More productivity posts:

Three Ways to Sabotage Time-Blocking [Video]

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Hi, I’m Allison Johs, President of Legal Ease Consulting, where I help lawyers create more productive, more profitable, and more enjoyable law practices. In my last video, I talked about using a technique called time blocking to schedule time on your calendar to get important work done. I have found time blocking to be effective for many of my clients, but there are three things that sometimes derail their efforts. Watch the video below or scroll down to keep reading.

First, they don’t accurately estimate the time it will take to complete a task, and don’t leave enough time to get it done. It takes time to get good at estimating. Most of us don’t realize how long it actually takes to get our work done (and if you are billing by the hour and not logging time as you are working, that means you’re leaving money on the table). I recommend setting a timer when you begin working and stopping it when the work is complete, so you get an accurate picture of how long a task takes. In the beginning, when blocking time, I also recommend that you schedule twice as much time on your calendar as you think the task will take to give yourself some breathing room.

Second, they over-schedule themselves by blocking too many hours in the day – they fail to leave room for what I call “the chaos factor.” Those unanticipated things that crop up and eat into our day – whether it be a client emergency, problems with technology, or just having a day when it is difficult to concentrate. Don’t block every hour of every day – leave room between appointments and make sure to include downtime in your schedule. No one can focus every hour in every day.

And finally, they confuse projects with tasks. A task is a single item, while a project is made up of multiple tasks. Don’t make the mistake of trying to schedule an entire project into a single time block. It is much more difficult to estimate time for a complete project, and often, you don’t know everything that the project will entail until you actually start working.

I’ll talk more about projects and tasks in my next video, but for now, if you want more time management tips like these, please subscribe to my YouTube Channel or my newsletter.

Break Down Projects to Get Things Done [video]

“Yard by yard, life is hard, but inch by inch, life’s a cinch.”

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m sure you’ve heard this saying before. But it’s a good reminder that when we focus on only one thing at a time, it’s much easier to see our progress and to stay motivated to keep going. Watch this short video or scroll down to learn more.

That’s why it’s important to understand the difference between projects and tasks. Tasks are individual items to complete, while projects are made up of several tasks. For example, making a telephone call is a task. But putting out your monthly newsletter is a project that includes several tasks, including writing the content, editing the content, choosing images, uploading everything to your newsletter program, etc.

Sometimes we procrastinate or avoid projects because we can’t imagine how we’re going to make the time to do all of those tasks at once. Instead, think only about the next, smallest action you need to take to move the project forward, and schedule time on your calendar to complete that task.

Maybe that next action is just taking 15 minutes to plot out what you want in your newsletter this month. Or emailing a list of the concepts you want your assistant to find images for to include in the newsletter. Once that task is completed, determine what the next action is and immediately schedule that on your calendar. You may be surprised at how much you accomplish.

See more productivity tips:

Block Time to Get Work Done [video]

Is your to-do list out of control? The tool that comes to my rescue is my calendar.

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In this video, I talk to you about using your calendar effectively to make sure you get the most important things done. (Or to continue reading, just scroll down).

This time of year, your to-do list can get out of control. That’s why, although I keep a to-do list, it isn’t the tool I use every day to decide what I’m going to work on next. Instead, I use my calendar.

Most of us use our calendar for things like appointments, or even deadlines, but I use my calendar for much more than that. Using a technique called time-blocking, I make appointments on my calendar to perform the work I need to get done. This forces me to be more realistic about what I can actually accomplish.

The concept is simple. Instead of leaving all of the tasks I need to accomplish on a to-do list, I convert those tasks into blocks of time on my calendar. For example, I write a column for a legal magazine every other month. In addition to adding the due date for the column to my calendar, I add a reminder several weeks in advance of the due date. When the reminder pops up, I look at my calendar and start blocking out times to write. If I need to schedule another appointment at the time I was planning to write, this forces me to look at my calendar to see when I have another opening to write. And I know from experience that I rarely complete the column in one sitting, so I may need to block out several blocks to accomplish this task. I can do that all at once, or as I go along.

Time blocking is also a great technique to ensure that you accomplish some of the non-billable tasks you need to do. For example, you might block out an hour or two every week to focus on your marketing and business development, or a few hours a month to review your bills so they get out the door on time. And it’s important to block out time to enjoy yourself, too.

For me, if it isn’t on my calendar, it doesn’t get done, no matter what it is.

I’m Allison Johs from Legal Ease Consulting, and I hope this tip was helpful for you. Please leave me a comment with your best productivity tip for this holiday season!

See more about productivity:

Why “Best Practices” May Not Always Be Best

In my last video, I talked about three reasons why I don’t like the term “best practices” when it comes to legal marketing.

Today I have two more reasons why following best practices for legal marketing could be detrimental.

First, “best practices” are a moving target – what might be a best practice today could change tomorrow. I’ve seen too many lawyers make the mistake of sticking with something that doesn’t work for far too long because they’ve heard from some expert that it was what they were supposed to do.

You need to be flexible and to stay on top of what is working and what isn’t working. Instead of listening to what someone else says is the best way to market your firm, you need to be looking at the data, including:

  • What is driving traffic to your firm website?
  • How many website visitors fill out a contact form or call your office?
  • How many clients and referral sources have you cultivated as a result of your networking?

Use that data to regularly make adjustments to improve your performance. Talk to your clients about what works for them.

And finally, following “best practices” can stifle innovation. By definition, sticking with best practices means you aren’t trying something new. You aren’t experimenting. Instead of being a leader, you’ll always be a follower. aren’t trying new ways to use old tools. That culture of experimentation is important for the flexibility I just talked about – the more you’re used to experimenting or changing, the easier it will be for you to adapt as the marketplace changes around you.

If you’re looking for help developing a personalized marketing plan that works for you and your clients, please contact me.

More videos you may like:

Why I’m Not a Fan of “Best Practices” in Legal Marketing

Are you following current best practices in your marketing?

Actually, I hate the term “best practices,” and here are three reasons I think lawyers should consider ignoring them – at least when it comes to their marketing.

First, the term “best practices” implies that there is a one-size-fits-all approach that you should take. But the whole point of marketing and business development is for you to stand out in the marketplace and to differentiate yourself from other lawyers who do what you do. But if everyone is doing exactly the same thing, how can you stand out?

Second, every lawyer has different strengths and weaknesses. If you are more comfortable connecting one-on-one than speaking to large groups, why force yourself to pursue speaking engagements? You will only be uncomfortable, stressed-out, or you will avoid marketing entirely because you don’t want to do public speaking. Similarly, if you struggle with writing, why start a blog?

The best results will always be achieved when you enjoy what you are doing so that it doesn’t feel like work.

And finally, not all clients are created equal – different clients have different needs and consume information in different ways. A “best practice” that doesn’t meet your clients where they are isn’t a best practice at all.

So the next time you hear about a “best practice” evaluate for yourself whether the recommendation is one that makes sense for you, your clients and your practice.

Tell me in the comments what marketing activities you hate (or love). And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you don’t miss any of my videos!

More legal marketing videos:

How to Create Compelling Case Studies for Your Law Firm

Case studies can be a useful way of helping turn prospects into clients for your law firm, but not all case studies are effective. (To see my video about why to use case studies in your law firm marketing, click here).

There are 7 steps to creating a great case study:

  1. First and foremost, a good case study should be created from the perspective of the client, not the lawyer, because you want your ideal clients to see themselves in the case study. Let’s face it – no one really cares about you, they only care about themselves and what you can do for them. The client is the star; the spotlight should be on them and their story.
  2. Choose cases that will resonate the most with your ideal clients.
  3. Next, introduce the client – Who are they? What are they all about? What is their situation? What are they trying to accomplish?
  4. Introduce the drama – What problem is the client facing? What obstacles are in their way? How is the problem affecting them?
  5. What was your role? What actions did you take on the client’s behalf to solve their problem? How did you guide them through it?
  6. What was the outcome? How was the client’s problem solved? What impact did that have on their life or their business?
  7. Finally, iIf possible, get the client’s permission and participation. This will not only allow you to add more detail to your case study (and possibly use the client’s name) without running into ethical problems, but it will help to create a more convincing story. And as an added bonus, it helps reinforce the value you provided to that client.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you don’t miss any of my videos!

Use Case Studies to Demonstrate Value

I love a good story, don’t you? 

In my last video, I talked about a quick and easy way to develop content for all of your firm’s marketing needs, by answering your clients’ frequently asked questions. Today, I want to talk about another kind of content – case studies.

Most people love a good story, so why not take advantage of that by telling the stories of your clients in your marketing materials in case studies?

Why Should Lawyers Create Case Studies?

  • Case studies help to educate your potential clients by showing them what you do and who you do it for.
  • They give examples of outcomes you’ve achieved with other clients in the past, and show how you did it.
  • They help build trust – a potential client will see that you have already handled a similar problem successfully.
  • They’ll see that you’ve already helped people like them achieve their desired results.
  • They illustrate your expertise, rather than just telling people about it.
  • They offer concrete evidence that the firm can do what it says.
  • They help demonstrate your approach and how you provide value to your clients.
  • If written properly, case studies are more engaging and entertaining than long explanations of legal concepts; they show how those legal concepts work in the real world.

How Can Lawyers Use Case Studies?

Case studies can be used to pitches or proposals for new clients, in addition to websites, blog posts, newsletters, and more.

And case studies don’t have to be just written text – consider having the lawyers in your office record video case studies, talking about matters they’ve handled for their clients. You might even use Videosocials to record them! (That’s how I record almost all of mine – email me if you want to come as a guest to a Videosocials meeting).

Watch Out for Ethics Pitfalls

As always, if you don’t have consent from your clients to talk about their case, you should be sure you don’t include client names or other identifying information in your case studies, and you should include any disclaimers that might be required in your jurisdiction.

I’m Allison Johs from Legal Ease Consulting, and if you want to learn more about how to create compelling case studies for your law firm, stay tuned for my next video. In the interim, you can see more on legal marketing at any of the links below:

Do You Know Where Your Best Clients Come From?

Do you know where your best clients are coming from? Do you keep track, or are you just relying on your memory? Do you know how many of your inquiries or initial consultations became paying clients last year? If you’re like many of the solo and small firm lawyers I talk to, your answer to these questions is probably no.

Watch the video, or read below on to find out more.

I was talking to a client last week about his marketing. We were trying to build a profile of his best clients and referral sources. But when I asked him was who his best referral sources were and how are his best clients coming to him, he didn’t know. He had a couple of ideas, but no hard data to check them against.

If you don’t keep track of how clients are coming to you, how do you know what’s working? How do you know whether your marketing and business development resources are being expended the right way? How do you know whether you need to change something in your marketing to attract more clients who are the right fit for your practice or to change your intake and initial consultation process to get more of those potential clients to become actual clients?

The answer is that you probably don’t.

This is some of the most important data you have in your practice, so if you haven’t been keeping track up until now, it’s time to start. It doesn’t have to be complicated – it could be as simple as setting up an Excel spreadsheet.

You’ll want to track:

  • The name of the potential client;
  • The date of each contact with the client;
  • The method of each contact (phone, email, etc.);
  • How the client came to you (be specific – if a client saw a presentation or seminar you gave, which one was it? If they found you on the internet, did they find your website, your blog, or through an attorney directory? Who referred them to you? Did they click through a link from your email newsletter?)
  • If the client comes for an initial consultation, note the date of the consultation.
  • If the potential client becomes a client, keep track of the date that they did so, the fee they’re being charged, and the specific problem they needed you to address.

Review this information regularly to determine which referral sources are most effective and to help you follow up with potential clients. The spreadsheet can help you focus on your best referral sources, improve your referrals from other sources, and keep in touch with potential clients that haven’t yet become paying clients. It can also help you understand your sales cycle better so that you can plan better and improve cash flow.

Learn more about legal marketing:

Quick and Easy Content: FAQs

Are you struggling to find topic ideas for your firm’s website, blog, newsletter, social media accounts, or presentations? Today’s tip is an easy way to develop topics for all of these and more.

One of the easiest ways to develop topic ideas for all of your law firm’s content needs is by using FAQs, or frequently asked questions.

  • What are the questions almost every client asks (or doesn’t ask, but wants the answers to)?
  • What topics do you need to cover with all new clients when they come to your office?
  • What questions do you staff receive on a daily basis from clients or potential clients?
  • Questions can be substantive (“How much money will I get for my case?” “What is an irrevocable trust?”) or procedural (“How should I prepare for my deposition?” “What do I need to bring to my closing?”)

Creating content around frequently asked questions saves time for both your potential clients and your firm. They help build trust in your law firm. FAQs can also help set expectations for potential clients about what to expect when working with your firm.

FAQs can help keep web visitors on your site longer, especially if you link to longer resources on your site from within the FAQs. For example, you might create an FAQ page on your website that answers questions in a concise manner and then link to a more complete page or blog post that addresses the same topic.

Since FAQs are just that – frequently asked – they are great for SEO because they mirror exactly the kinds of questions your potential clients may be typing into a search engine. Not only that, but if your FAQs are presented in a question-and-answer format, they can improve your results in voice search as well.

Frequently asked questions present an almost unlimited opportunity to develop content for your law firm. Every time a client or colleague asks a question, it is a potential FAQ topic, because if one client has the question, it is highly likely that others do as well.

Please leave me a comment and tell me what questions you have about marketing and running your practice – maybe I’ll address them in a future post/video!

For more about marketing see:

Using Color to Manage Your Outlook Calendar and Email

Are you a visual person? If so, today’s productivity tip is for you!

Color coding important appointments and email messages in Outlook to help you manage your calendar and that mountain of email messages we all receive every day. Watch the video, or scroll down to read more.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at my calendar or my email inbox, it can be a little overwhelming. It can be easy to miss important messages when you’re scrolling through your inbox. And looking at a sea of appointments in Outlook can be daunting. Using color makes that easier for me.

One way to use color is to create categories in Outlook. This is the way I color-code items on my calendar so that I can see at a glance what I have coming up that day, that week, or that month. For example, I color code all of my client appointments as green, marketing activities as purple, personal items like doctor’s appointments or family events are pink, administrative activities for my business as blue, speaking engagements as yellow, and so on. I can look at my calendar for the week and see right away how many client appointments I have coming up or whether I’ve set aside any time for marketing.

You can use categories for email messages as well, but I find that the category tags aren’t as obvious when I’m scrolling through my inbox. Instead, I use conditional formatting for email messages to assign a different color to messages I want to stand out or ensure that they get my attention.

If you want some tips on using color in Outlook, download my Using Color in Outlook PDF below. Or contact me to see how I can help you to use Outlook more effectively.

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