Balance Time Wellness

A S.I.M.P.L. (E.) way to simplify: stop before you start

Written by Allison Wolf

Billable hours. Networking. Continuing legal education. Business development. (Along with family, friends, self, community – and not necessarily in that order). At some point in the past few decades, we lawyers have taken on “busy/overwhelmed” as a badge of honour. But the drain of living busy has caught up with us. Of late, there has been a noticeable shift in the legal landscape. Now the conversations are about “balance”, “time management”, and “working smarter”. At the heart of these critical topics is the act of simplifying.

Over the next few posts, we will guide you, step by step through our S.I.M.P.L.(E.) approach to simplifying. Making your life simpler allows you to thrive in a culture of busy. Much has been written about how to simplify. You have likely even tried incorporating some of the more common tips and tools into your life. But if you still find yourself struggling, you may have skipped the very first step of the process; the one that happens before you even begin.

Stop and Take Stock

As with change in any area, significant and lasting results require a step back before you dive in. The S.I.M.P.L.(E.) approach (or any other simplifying approach) will have greater impact if you focus first on your purpose.

Before you begin to simplify, identify your own very personal “why”. Simplifying is not easy – as anyone who has tried it before can attest. So before you start, be clear about what you want. To do this, consider not only what you are trying to move away from but, more importantly, what you are trying to move towards. Although most of us can rattle off a list of what we want less of, fewer of us can clearly articulate what we want more of. In our coaching practice, clients who are looking to simplify use words/phrases such as overwhelmed, consistently preoccupied, feeling as though they are not doing their best in any area of life, nervous, impatient, depleted, “crazed”, and forgetful in describing their “current” state. When we ask how they would like to be, there is often a long pause, followed by “umm… that’s a really good question”. And then they begin to talk about what’s truly important in their lives and how they would like to show up. The words client choose differ widely. Examples include present, calm, productive, organized, patient, connected, in control.

Digging a little deeper usually unearths a ‘wish list’ or a set of priorities. With our priorities clearly defined, we can be intentional about where and how we simplify, so that we have the time and energy to make room for the remarkable.

Having stopped and taken stock, you now have your “why” in mind (or on paper). Read our next post as we delve into the “I” of the S.I.M.P.L. (E.) approach to simplifying …


About the author

Allison Wolf

I am the founder of AWAL and one of the most senior coaches for lawyers in North America. I have helped countless clients over the past fifteen years, develop thriving legal practices and before that served as director of marketing for award-winning law firms. My specialty is uncovering the thinking traps and gaps holding clients back and helping them acquire the mindsets, skills, and habits for growing successful and rewarding legal careers. After a career in legal marketing and business development with law firms in Beijing, New York, and Vancouver, I was trained as a coach in 2004 at Royal Roads University and now coach clients from across North America. You can reach me at or learn more about my coaching practice from the coaching section of the Attorney With A Life Website.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.