Managing Self Monday Morning Practice

What are you thinking?

Written by Allison Wolf

As a coach one of the things I am always listening for are my client’s thoughts. How we think guides how we act. When we reframe or shift our thinking we open ourselves up to the potential for taking different action.

This morning I wanted to share with you one simple thinking trap I see many lawyers run into – particularly with respect to marketing and business development. I call it the, “I need a block of time” trap.

I am going to use a specific example to illustrate this:

Justine has decided that she wants to get a series of short articles out in front of her target clients about some hot button issues they are facing in their industry.

Justine also has a busy corporate practice.

Justine thinks about each of these articles as a big block of time. She thinks, “as soon I get through this busy period I can block off some time to tackle the first article.”

Justine also thinks about her past client Bob who she wants to get back in touch with. “When I get through this crunch I will go for lunch with Bob.”

Justine is falling into two thinking traps. The first is this one:

“Lunch with Bob and the article both require a big block of time that I don’t have now. I will deal with it after the crunch.”

The second related trap is this:

“There will be a time when I am not busy and I will have time for these non-billable objectives.”

Here’s the result – the business development objectives Justine wants to carry out stall out. She rarely has free blocks of time.

Here’s why she is making a mistake.

Most business development can be done in small increments that fit into any busy schedule.

The lunch with Bob and the article are best handled in slivers of time, not one big block.

The lunch with Bob starts with just a two minutes of effort to send an email to reconnect with him. Then later in the week when Bob gets back to her, it just takes just another two minutes to schedule a lunch. The lunch itself later in the week takes an hour and half, but she finds this a welcome break.

Or, instead of lunch, Justine could simply send Bob an email with a link to an article that relates to his business. Then she could take ten minutes the following week to pick up the phone and follow up with him about the article she sent over. This accomplishes her objective of reconnecting with him without investing any big chunks of time.

The article too is best handled in small increments. First step, Justine takes five to ten minutes to decide what she wants to write about. Later in the week, she takes ten minutes to do some research. The article for non-lawyers doesn’t require much research as she knows what she needs to say. Then, Justine writes the article in a series of short bursts, ten minutes one day, fifteen minutes the next.

Justine gives her business development plan five to ten minutes a day, and at the end of each quarter is surprised by how much she gets done.

Take a look at your own practice? What projects sit like big blocks of time in your thoughts? How can you rethink these, as projects to be sliced up, and actioned just a bit at a time?

Instead of thinking “I need a block of time for that” try “what is my next small step to move that forward today?”

Pick one project to approach this way and see what happens.

(Reposted from January 25, 2016)

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.

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