You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 78. Today, you’re in for a treat. I’m doing something I’ve never done on the podcast before. You ready? Let’s go.
Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.
Hey, there. How’s it going? I’m so excited to share this episode with you. I haven’t done this on the podcast before. I’ve been thinking about doing it for a really long time because I host monthly master classes on a different topic every month, and I just got done doing one on time management, which happens to be one of the most popular topics that I coach on.
I would say, time management, how to set boundaries, and how to develop business are my three top topics that I teach. The most popular, by far, among my audience.
So, I just got done, at the end of September, recording my time management masterclass. I did it live. I did it in front of an audience of almost 1,000 people, the biggest audience that I’ve had yet at a webinar. The feedback that I got on this masterclass was incredible. People reached out to me, slid into my DMs, texted me, and emailed me right after the class was over. They said it was insanely valuable.
People have been dying to get their hands on the replay. The replay, if you want to watch it, is available on my social media. If you go to my Instagram, there’s a Linktree link on my profile, and you can watch the replay on Zoom there. But I’ve never done this, and I’ve been thinking about doing it.
Actually, this is inspired a little bit by Gary Vaynerchuk. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Gary V., but he’s an entrepreneur and he takes a lot of his keynote speeches and turns them in to podcast episodes. So, I got the idea, the inspiration, from him, to take my monthly masterclass and turn it into a podcast episode.
I teach a little bit differently during my master classes than I do on the podcast, so I wanted you to hear how I interact with my viewers in real time, and how we workshop through problems together. It really gives you a glimpse inside of what it’s like to work with me.
I teach my time management framework in the most comprehensive way that I’ve ever, ever taught it. You’ve heard me talk about my time management series on this podcast before. There are amazing episodes, I think it’s like Episode 26 or 28 through the mid-30s, all on time management. This is like one hour; everything you could possibly think that you would need in this one-hour masterclass.
I haven’t taught it this comprehensively, all in one place, in this short amount of time where it’s just easily digestible. And I wanted to give you a chance to have a refresher course. If you’ve been following along with the podcast for a long time and you’ve already listened to those episodes, amazing.
This is going to be the refresher that you really need if you’re still struggling with managing your time. If you’re new to the podcast, this is an amazing deep dive for you to get more familiar with what I teach.
At the end of the podcast episode, at the end of the audio recording for this masterclass, I talk about the monthly subscription that I’m getting ready to launch. I’m going to talk about that more on the podcast in future episodes. But I just wanted to give it to you now.
If you already heard me talk about the monthly subscription service that I’m starting, it’s for lawyers only. It’s a coaching subscription, where we’re going to meet each week, and just like Netflix, it just keeps recurring. So, you keep getting the support month in and month out for your personal and professional development. It’s just like Netflix, is how I keep describing it to people.
If you want in on that, as soon as I launch it later in October, I want you right now to head to bit.ly/lawyers only. Go there and sign up for the interest list, and you’re going to get a private invitation from me before I open enrollment to the public. It’s going to give you the first opportunity that you have to join this monthly subscription and to get to be part of the founding cohort.
It’s going to be so incredible. I talk a little bit about what the membership is going to be like at the end of the masterclass. So, make sure you listen to the whole thing. And, of course, you also want to listen to the whole thing because I can’t say this enough, this masterclass is incredible. It’s everything you need to know about how to manage your time.
So, tune in. I think you’re really going to enjoy it, and hopefully this inspires you to come to my next master class. I’m teaching you how to care less about what other people think. If you want to register for that, head to my Instagram as well. Click on the link in my bio, and you can register for my next masterclass there. I hope to see you on Zoom, and have you take part in the next one, and I hope you’ll enjoy this one. I definitely think you will. Happy listening, my friends.
Hello, hello. How are we? How is everyone doing? Welcome. So excited to teach this class today. I haven’t taught time management this comprehensively, I don’t think, ever. So, I am so, so excited to dive in and teach you all of the things about how to manage your time.
I’m going to give people a few minutes to get in here. As I do that, do me a favor. If this is the first time you’ve ever been to one of my webinars, welcome. I’m Olivia Vizachero. I’m a life coach for lawyers. One of the things that I teach on the most is how to manage your time.
If you have been here before, you know how I like to run my webinars. You know that I love a really active chat. So, do me a favor, if you’re new or you’ve been here before, just jump in the chat really fast. Make sure you switch it from “to hosts and panelists” to “to everyone,” and come on in the chat. Say hi, let me know if this is your first time.
Amy, amazing. First time, Laura. First time, Andy. First time… So good to see you guys here. So, I workshop with people, and we’re going to do a lot of that together today. We’re going to engage. I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions in the chat. I want you to answer me in real time. I do a really good job about reading as I go, because I really want this to be a conversation.
Even though we’re not together in person, I want it to feel like I’m in the room with you when you’re learning this, and I’m right there in front of you. So, the way that we do that…
Second time, Scott, amazing. Second time, Amy, good to see you again. Hey, Cassandra.
So, the way that we do that is by having this really engaging chat. The reason, and I call people out, the reason I have you switch from “to hosts and panelists” to “to everyone” is I want everyone else to see your amazing comments.
Sometimes people are afraid to speak up, and if I’m the only one who can read what you’re saying other people are going to be chilled and not want to participate as much. So, you’ve got to lead the way and make it comfortable for other people to participate and engage in the conversation.
The other reason that it’s important is it doesn’t make sense if I’m reading something and I’m responding to you, but no one else can see what I’m reading and responding to. It’s just a little confusing, right?
Hey, Elsa from Charlotte. Love it. Getting ready to move to South Carolina on Sunday, so I’ll be down by you. Hi, Jill. Hi, gorgeous. So, we’ve got a good amount of people here. Hi, from Boca. I love it. I love seeing where everyone’s from. Hey Christina. Good morning, from Scottsdale. So good.
We’re going to dive in and get started because we’ve got a lot to cover. Let’s talk about today’s agenda. I like to just level set expectations and let people know what we’re going to be talking about so they can follow along. First things first, we’re going to talk about the mindset of managing your time.
Mindset is so important. So many people struggle with time management because they skip this step. We can’t skip that step. Mindset is really, really key here. This is why, if you ever, with time management, feel like you know what you need to do, but you’re just not doing it. It’s because you’re not addressing the mindset and you’re just trying to learn tactics. Learning tactics isn’t enough, I’m going to explain why that is in a second.
So, we’re going to cover mindset for managing your time, then we’re going to lay a foundation for managing your time. I’m going to talk about a couple of things that you need to do at the beginning before we get into the three key steps to managing your time. That way you really prime yourself and lay the proper foundation to set you up for success. I’m going to teach you how to do that today.
Then we’re going to dive in and I’m going to very comprehensively go through the three key steps to managing your time. We’re going to talk about all three of them in detail. I’m going to teach you how to do it. We’re going to make some decisions here. You’re going to get a game plan together, so you leave here knowing what you need to do.
And then, at the very end, I’ve got a special announcement to make. So, please stay on for that announcement. I’m super excited to tell you guys about it. We’re going to get to time management first, and that I’ll save for the end.
We’ve got to start with gaining awareness. We always need to start with gaining awareness, because if we don’t know what we’re currently doing and we don’t know why we’re doing it, then we can’t improve. We’re definitely not going to make lasting change.
So, tell me in the chat, drop in the comments, how do you currently manage your time? Now, a lot of you might want to say, “I don’t manage it,” because you’re not managing it well. But I want you to tell me… “Poorly,” I love it, Sagia, what do you do, and what don’t you do?
Use a Google Calendar, shared Google Calendar, Outlook calendar… Great. To-do list, agenda, daily list, Live by Calendar, productivity calendar. “I make wildly unrealistic plans,” so good. I want to start writing some of these things down, so I use my calendar. That’s great. Maybe you make a to-do list, or you don’t. Maybe you do this inconsistently. If so, write that down. “Make unrealistic plans.”
Anyone double book themselves? I have a lot of clients that have a habit of doing that. Yeah, also do too many things. “Try to do too much in a day; double book.”
Maybe you don’t leave enough time in between things. So good, love that, “Practice and look at the calendar each Sunday to plan for the week.” So good, I do that too. “I try time blocking; sometimes successfully, often not.” “Time blocking.” And if it’s not successful, write out what you do. So sometimes, I honor it. Sometimes, I reshuffle. Sometimes, I procrastinate. Do we people please when it comes to managing our time? Say yes when we don’t have capacity?
“Drowning in emails.” Yes. So, maybe you will stay in your inbox all day. Think about what don’t you do. You don’t stick to the plan. “Always people pleasing,” Kathy, that just means you’re in the right place. We’re going to talk about that today.
“My key issue is not putting appointments in the calendar straightaway. And then I ended up double booking.” Amazing, Naomi, we’re going to talk about that too. I have a rule for that.
We’re going to create some rules today. If you just cringed when I said “rules,” we’ve got to reframe the way that we think about rules and decisions around our calendar. I promise you; it is going to create freedom in your life. Thank you, Cynthia, I do have tips for drowning in emails, we’re going to talk about it.
“No space between virtual meetings,” amazing. If you don’t like that, we’re going to change it. So, we’re figuring out what we’re doing right now that’s not working, right? It’s not working, and that’s why you’re here. Or, at least, some of what you’re doing is not working.
As you start to make your list of what you’re doing and what you’re not doing, we’re going to start to understand why we’re doing it. “Give me new rules, mine aren’t working.” I love it, Andy. So, we want to understand the problem. I love teaching this because it gets to be so simple. I don’t know about you, but I used to struggle with time management really significantly, and it used to feel absolutely impossible to me.
I’m going to tell you two things that are true, at least for me. Number one, it is really difficult because there’s so much emotion involved with proper time management. It is a masterclass in feeling uncomfortable, ‘gagging and going’ through that discomfort, and doing shit you don’t feel like doing anyways. We’re going to talk about that a lot today.
So, that’s why it’s hard. It brings up your desire to people please, it triggers your perfectionism, that avoidant behavior, it taps into our natural human conditioning where we seek temporary pleasure and avoid instant discomfort. That’s why we have a hard time with it. It goes to our core habits, and is counterintuitive to what feels protective in the moment.
However, with that being said, it is actually simple to improve once you understand the framework for how to do that. So, we want to understand the problem. This is the good news, you guys. There are only three reasons that you fail to manage your time.
I know it seems way more complicated than that. You’re probably thinking there’s a million reasons you don’t manage your time, mostly the circumstances that you encounter and other people’s behavior, but I promise you, that’s not the case. Okay?
There were only three reasons you fail to manage your time: Negative thoughts you’re thinking. Negative feelings that you’re avoiding. And intentional actions that you’re not taking. Okay? Once you’re able to identify them, I’m going to teach you how to identify them today, you’re able to course correct.
So, in order to get better at managing your time, you have to understand the causal connection between how you think, how you feel, and what you ultimately do; the action that you ultimately take. Okay? Knowing the actions to take, like I said earlier, it isn’t enough. The reason it’s not enough is because this is exactly why you say, ‘I know what I need to do, but I’m just not doing it.’
Because you’re not addressing the negative thoughts and the negative feelings. Okay? That’s what we’re going to learn to do today. We’re going to learn how to address those things. Now, I want to introduce you… this is the causal connection that I’m talking about. I want to introduce you to the think-feel-act cycle.
This is operating behind the scenes, and it drives and determines everything you do. It also drives and determines everything everyone else around you does, okay? We’re all having this operate all throughout the day as we’re going throughout our day to day lives.
What this is, the think-feel-act cycle, it just means that your brain serves you up thoughts, you think thoughts, and those thoughts cause your feelings. Your feelings are those one-word emotions that you feel like; overwhelmed, pressured, behind, panicked, guilty, stressed, inadequate, unprepared, confused, defeated, discouraged, disappointed in yourself.
Those are the one-word emotions that we experience, okay? Those feelings, our feelings, drive all the actions that we take. It’s our actions that produce our results, which ultimately means our thoughts create our results. Thoughts cause our feelings, feelings drive our actions, and action produces our results.
So, we want to understand our own think-feel-act cycles so we can leverage this causal connection in order to better manage our time. We’ve first got to figure out what we’re currently thinking, the feelings we’re currently avoiding, and the intentional actions we’re not taking.
Then, the solution, again, it’s threefold. You’ll notice that I like “rules of three.” We’re talking in threes basically all day today. But the solution is also threefold: You have to change your thoughts. You need to feel your negative feelings on purpose.
If you’ve been around me for a while now, you know I love the phrase “gag-and-go.” It’s going to make you feel nauseous to move forward. It’s going to be uncomfortable. But you’re going to gag-and-go through the discomfort anyways. And then, the third step, is to take the intentional action that you identified, and take it in spite of, and despite of, how you feel; in spite of, and despite of, that discomfort.
We’re going to do some examples of this, so you can see your own think-feel-act cycles. I want you to tell me what thoughts do you think about time? “There’s not enough time? Overwhelmed.” Yes. “I’m going to be late. Maybe stressed. I lack control over my time.” Yes. “Which normally makes us feel either helpless or out of control. I don’t understand how long things take.” Yes.
Maybe confused, or incapable. This could also be ‘I’m bad at understanding how long things take.’ “I take too long.” Yes. “They waste too much of it.” So good. You’re getting a good idea. Yes, to what Amanda said, “I always want to do the new thing in the inbox.” Amazing. You want to start to ask yourself why that is. It’s giving you something in the short term.
We were just talking in the group coaching program that I run, we were talking about it this week, how people get to feel heroic when they are putting out fires and they’re triaging that stuff as it comes in. Versus having to stay focused on what you plan to do and let that guilt bubble up by not triaging the thing that comes in.
“Inbox becomes the calendar.” Yeah, exactly. “I’m either avoiding or putting out fires.” Exactly. So, when you’re ‘thinking there’s not enough time,’ what do you end up doing? When you’re thinking that you’re going to be late, do you end up being late? When you think you lack control, do you end up giving up control?
If you don’t understand how long things take you practice estimating how long things take. Or do you avoid estimating and then you stay confused? If you take too long, if that’s the identity you have, you’re going to continue to take too long. If you waste your time, you’re going to keep wasting it. Now, that might not seem like it makes sense but I’m going to show it to you.
Take one of your thoughts; I’m going to do some common ones. These are three common thoughts that I really want you to walk away from this training practicing. Okay?
I love this. “You practice how long things actually take.” Yeah, it requires practice, you’re not going to get it right the first time. I just recorded a podcast episode on this. If you’re not listening to my podcast, it’s called The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, go give it a listen. I have a very comprehensive time management series and I’ve recently done a couple of episodes that also get into what you need to be thinking, and how you need to be approaching learning time management.
One of the things that I teach is that you have to let it be messy, you’re not going to be good at this right away. You’ve never learned how to manage your time. No one’s ever taught it to you. You don’t learn it in school. The places that you work don’t teach it to you. So, it makes sense that you’re bad at it, if you struggle with it, okay?
But that doesn’t mean that you’re not capable of learning how to do this. Learning how to do it is going to be a messy process, and you’ve got to know that going in.
“I’m having a hard time doing an actual inventory of what it is that I do, and thus how long each of those things take.” Erin, we’re going to address that today. So good.
Okay, so I want you to… These are three core beliefs. If you have them, we’ve got to get rid of them. They’re standing in your way, and they’re going to prevent you from managing your time well.
The first thought is, ‘I’m not in control of my time.’ When you think ‘I’m not in control of my time,’ you feel helpless or out of control, like I said, just a moment ago. Here’s what you do when you’re feeling helpless and out of control. You probably people please. You say yes when you want to say no. You take on more work than you have capacity for. You fail to set boundaries. You don’t plan your schedule, or if you do plan, you don’t follow it.
So, then you end up not controlling your time. You probably also let other people schedule for you. You cede control over your calendar to other people. You acquiesce, there’s a lot of that going on. Okay? You’re avoiding the discomfort that comes from planning, setting boundaries, and saying no.
You’re avoiding all that discomfort, so you end up not controlling your time, and you end up making really unintentional decisions. Instead of that, remember the framework: There’s a negative thought you’re thinking, negative emotions that you’re avoiding, and then, intentional actions that you’re not taking; these are the actions you’re taking instead.
Now, if you want to create the result of controlling your time and managing it well, we need to be thinking a different thought, right? Step one, we’ve got to change our thoughts. So, you need to think ‘I am in control of my time.’ I promise you, you are in control of your time, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
A lot of people have a habit of thinking, ‘I have to do this. I need to do this. I must do this. I can’t do this.’ But that’s not true. There are only five things you ever have to do: Eat, drink water, sleep sometimes, use the restroom, and breathe. That’s it. Literally, that is it. So many people like to challenge me on this.
Every other exercise of your time is a choice. You choose to show up to court. It might not feel voluntary, but it is. You choose to wake up in the morning and get your kids ready for school. Some people don’t do that, some people don’t take care of their kids. I’m not suggesting that you should try that. I’m just telling you; it is optional.
You are making a choice when you do it. You make a choice to go into work, you make a choice to go to your email, you make a choice to answer the phone, when someone calls you and it’s unscheduled. All of that is a choice. Okay?
So, you need to start believing that you’re making choices and you’re in control of your time. If you are believing that, you’re going to feel powerful and in control.
From there, what are you going to do when you feel powerful and in control? You’re going to follow the three steps that I teach: You’re going to control your calendar, you’re going to plan your schedule accurately, and you’re going to honor your plan. You’re also going to set some boundaries; say no when it serves you to say no.
You’re going to allow the discomfort of doing that. You’re going to feel guilty; you’re going to feel worried; you’re going to feel a little afraid, maybe nervous, or anxious, pressured. Instead of avoiding it or reacting to those feelings, you’re just going to sit with them.
Remember, change your thought, feel your feelings, take intentional action to produce a different result so you can control how you spend your time and make intentional decisions instead. So, this is the first thought that I want you to replace.
The second thought that I want you to replace is the thought, ‘I don’t have enough time. There’s never enough time.’ When you think this you will feel overwhelmed or rushed, and you will do one of two things. You will either shut down, freeze, procrastinate, and do what we call “buffer” in the coaching industry.
That just means you take some action where you seek temporary pleasure and avoid temporary discomfort. So, eat too much, drink too much, watch Netflix, scroll on Instagram or LinkedIn, go to Amazon, buy it now. Maybe you take a nap, you sleep. You can buffer with things that are seemingly good, to working out, cleaning, making lists, planning, clearing out your inbox.
Things that actually don’t move the dial but feel good in the moment. So, shutdown, procrastinate, buffer, freeze, or you react and take unintentional action. You don’t do the big ticket items. Maybe you’re multitasking, which is a really ineffective way to go about tackling your to-do list.
Studies show you waste up to 40% of your time when you’re multitasking because you have to reorient yourself to the task in front of you, and that loses you a lot of time and productivity.
Yes. Oh, my God, “Queen of buffer and procrastinating in South Asia.” Amazing, you guys are in good company, right?
So, you do one of those two things. Either take really unintentional action, or you shut down and freeze, and then you end up wasting your time. You don’t spend it wisely. So then, it seems like there’s never enough, right?
“Stress eating is a big thing for me,” totally, it’s very common for a lot of people. I tell my clients, “this is an incomplete thought.” I don’t like the word ‘lazy,’ but I do think this is a lazy thought. What I want you to do instead, is figure out whether or not this is true.
The way that we do that is we have to complete the sentence. So, “I don’t have enough time to do… by…” Okay? The answer is either going to be you do have enough time, or you don’t have enough time. We end up focusing on the math of it. So, “I don’t have enough time to answer 100 emails in an hour,” or “by 10 o’clock.” That may be true if it’s nine o’clock.
Now, if you say, ‘I don’t have enough time to answer 100 emails by the end of this week,’ that may be false. Right? It depends on what your availability is. But you’ve got to know that.
When you get clear on what the math is by figuring out what’s the specific task or tasks that we’re talking about, and what’s the timeframe you have to do them in, now we’re in a much different situation. We’re actually looking at the facts in front of us, rather than the dramatic story we’re telling ourselves, that may or may not be true. So, we’ve got to figure out what’s going on, what is actually true.
What I like people to switch to… I’ll just say this, if it’s not true, the solution isn’t to try and do it in the amount of time that you have available. The math isn’t going to work. So, the thing that has to change is your expectation of what you’re going to get done by when. That’s what has to change.
I say this to my clients all the time, “Y’all are mad at math. Y’all are mad at time.” We can’t be mad at time; time is not going to change. Time doesn’t care if you like it or not, or you think it’s fair, or that you think you should be able to get more done in a given period of time than what you actually can.
Between you and time, time is going to win the war every single time. Pun intended, with the time reference at the end there. But you’re not going to win. I have a client; I love her to death. I finally called her out on this one day. I was like, “You keep making unrealistic plans. Why are you doing this to yourself? You end every day feeling terrible. You feel so behind because of your unrealistic plan.”
She’s like, “I know, I just always want to get more done in a day than I can.” And I’m like, “Why would you want to plan that way?” The truth is, it’s because she wishes she could get more done in a day than she can. Right?
But just because you wish it, doesn’t mean that you plan in accordance with your wishes. We’ve got to plan in accordance with what’s actually possible. That’s totally what people do. It’s so, so common. But this is what I mean by ‘y’all are mad at time.’ Time’s going to win every day of the week, and twice on Sunday. So, you have to stop fighting an unwinnable war; that’s what I call those.
You’ve got to adjust your expectations. So, if the math doesn’t work, if you actually can’t do the thing by the time you have to do it, something has to change, and it’s got to be your timeline. “Yeah, I keep wishing.” Wishing is not going to get you anywhere. That’s the cold, hard truth.
I used to do this too, so I understand what drives this. But we have to be aware of it and we have to change it. So, instead of thinking ‘I don’t have enough time,’ we’re going to get clear on what the truth actually is. ‘I don’t have enough time to do… by…’ Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. If it’s not true, get to work. Get it done by the time that you have to do it, right? We’re going to talk about that later.
I like people to think this, and it’s not a super sexy thought but it is a good thought to think, ‘I can only do what I have time to complete.’ This is going to get you to feel very accepting, and you’re going to stop arguing with time, you’re going to plan accurately, follow the plan, and then you complete what you have time to complete.
I also think, another variation of this can be, ‘I can get through 10 emails by 10 o’clock,’ if that’s what you actually have time to do. That’s going to make you feel capable. ‘I can do this by then.’ Then, if you’re feeling capable, you’re going to get to work. You’re not going to be over here buffering, avoiding, or taking really unintentional action.
“But shouldn’t we try to get better at doing more or being more productive?” You can, over time, increase your efficiency. I like to really distinguish between productivity and efficiency. Efficiency is what you’re getting done in the amount of time that you’re working. Rather than just getting things done, which is productivity.
So, you can get more and more efficient as you cut out distractions, stop allowing yourself to be interrupted, focus, and don’t indulge in perfectionism and take too long to do things. You can definitely get more productive and more efficient.
However, there is… It takes me a certain amount of time to write out this flip chart for these webinars. It takes me an hour. If I try and do it in 45 minutes, I’m not going to complete it on time. That’s just the honest truth. It takes me 20 minutes to do my makeup.
If I only give myself 15, something’s not going to get done on this face; I’m not going to contour, I’m not going to have my eyelashes on, or I’m going to be five minutes late to something, because it takes me 20 minutes.
If you’re trying to shove 20 minutes into 15, and the thing actually takes you 20 minutes, you’re not going to get it into 15. You can’t shove 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound sack, time doesn’t work that way. So you’re going to get efficient, get efficient, get efficient, but then you’re ultimately going to get to a point where there is no more efficiency to gain out of what you’re doing. Unless you automate something.
But if you’re doing it, and you’re putting in the work, it just requires a certain amount of time. So, you need to accept that, and you need to be clear on what the math of that is.
You also might have this thought, and if you have it, we’ve got to replace it. What did Lauren say? “I keep planning to do low priority tasks and then reshuffling to use that time for higher priority tasks, to the point where the low priority tasks just don’t get done.” Totally.
“Will someone or something be permanently harmed if I don’t do this thing right away? If not, not urgent, and schedule.” Yes, totally good test, Ryan. I love that. My rule is, I want the default rule to be to not change your day of schedule.
So, you really have to get out of the habit of saying yes to same day turnaround. Anything that comes in should get scheduled, at the earliest, for the next day. If you do that, you’ll get through those lower priority tasks, okay? You also are going to have to feel guilty when that higher priority task comes in, saying no to it, or saying ‘No, not right now. I’m going to get to that tomorrow.’ It’s got to be uncomfortable.
You’ve got to gag-and-go through that guilt. You’ve got to gag-and-go through that worry, and create safety on the other side of it. The world doesn’t fall down, your clients still work with you; they will, it’ll be fine. You’ve got this narrative in your head that this is going to be a really big problem, and then you avoid advocating for yourself, saying no, pushing back, suggesting an alternate timeline, because of the discomfort of doing so.
Yes, the default rule is not changing the plan or the schedule. “Indulging in perfectionism. I think I’d be better if I was more confident in my skill/ knowledge.” Totally. You’re going to see how… We’re going to do a model in a second. You’re going to see how your lack of belief in yourself impacts how you approach tasks, right?
But you have to gag-and-go through feeling incompetent, through feeling confused, to feeling unprepared, to feeling not assured, insecure, unassured, if that’s how you feel. You have to take action and move forward in spite of, and despite of, that discomfort.
So, if you’re thinking that you’re bad at managing your time, you probably feel either ashamed or incapable or guilty. And then, you know what you don’t do? You don’t practice the three steps. You keep doing the same stuff. And you end up continuing to be bad at time management, right?
Thoughts create results. What I want to introduce you to… Yes, oh, you feel lazy. Yeah. None of you are lazy. All right? That’s just a default rule that I tell all of my clients, “You’re not lazy, it took too much work to get where you are. That’s not it.”
If you skip that, if it’s not laziness, what is it? Then you really start to gain some really incredible awareness as to why you’re doing the things that you’re doing. Okay? So, instead of thinking this, because we realize this doesn’t serve you, even if it feels true, you want to switch over this instead. ‘I’m learning to manage my time, and I’m getting better with practice’ or ‘I’ll get better with practice.’
Then you’re going to feel encouraged or capable, maybe determined, right? And then you’re going to practice the three steps: You’re going to let it be messy, allow your discomfort, and you’re going to learn and improve. I tell my clients all the time, when it comes to time management, we’re aiming for 1% improvement every day.
One percent improvement every day will absolutely change your life, okay? But you’re not going to wake up tomorrow morning and be a master at what I’m teaching you today. You’re just not. So, if that’s your expectation, you’ve got to re adjust your expectations to be much more realistic.
If you expect that of yourself, and then reality doesn’t match it, which I promise you it won’t, you’re going to feel so discouraged, so disappointed, so frustrated, and then you’re going to quit. So, you have to be setting realistic expectations.
Now, I want you to do these three think-feel-act cycle exercises with me so you can see it’s not just about your thoughts about time. But it’s also the thoughts that you are thinking about the work tasks you do, the interruptions that come your way, and planning your schedule.
Think of a work task that you’re really avoiding right now. The most common that I see with my clients… You can drop your answers in the chat… is, ‘I don’t want to do it.’ You can always ask yourself why, to get a little bit more insight.
To whoever said that they were talking about how ‘I’m already so far behind,’ you feel guilty probably, or ashamed if you think that. ‘I don’t want to do it’ will always bring up dread. You might be thinking ‘I don’t want to do it,’ because you don’t think you’re going to do a good job. That’s going to be that nervous, inadequacy, unprepared, incompetent feeling that we talked about a moment ago. That slows you down.
So, think about how you show up when you’re feeling whatever feeling that you’re feeling. When you feel dread we typically avoid, and we procrastinate, and we buffer. You’ll see, whatever thought you’re thinking about your task, causes you to feel a negative feeling and then you’re taking negative action.
If you’re thinking a negative thought you’ll feel a negative feeling, you’ll take negative action, or no action. If you’re thinking a positive thought you’ll feel a positive feeling, and you’ll take positive, productive action. The two never crisscross.
So, if you’ve got negative thoughts up here, you don’t have positive actions. Alright? That’s a way to check your math, so to speak.
“It feels like it’s a waste of time.” Totally. How do you feel when you think that, Elizabeth? Annoyed? Frustrated? Bothered? And then, what do you do? Yeah, we avoid when we feel annoyed, totally.
Think about what you think of an unscheduled meeting or call. Your phone’s ringing or someone sends you an email, ‘Hey, can you meet in an hour?’ And you had your whole day planned. You really needed that time to get some work done. You probably think, ‘I can’t say no,’ and then you’ll feel resigned or out of control, and you don’t say no.
‘I don’t have time for this;’ annoyed. But then, what do we do when we’re feeling annoyed? Probably allow the call but do it in a really negative energy.
“I try to think of it as a positive, ‘They want my help with something because they trust and like me,’ but at the same time, I think of it as a massive interruption.” Yeah, Aaron, it probably is a massive interruption. They might need your help, but you don’t have to make that your problem at that very moment. You can give them your help on a timeline that works for you.
Then I want you to tell me, what’s your thought about planning your schedule? I’d love to see what people think about this. Because if you’re not making plans right now, it’s because you have negative thoughts about doing this. “It’s pointless.” Yes. It’s pointless, might feel defeated or discouraged, and then you don’t make a plan. And you never see how amazing it is to have a plan. Why you want to do it.
Yeah, “I don’t like doing it because I rarely stay on track,” for sure. ‘I don’t have enough time to do it,’ that’s a big one. ‘It’s going to take me too long.’ Then we feel overwhelmed, rushed, and we don’t do it.
So, you can see, just like I told you a moment ago, negative thoughts you’re thinking, negative feelings that you’re avoiding, intentional actions you’re not taking. “Yeah, why do it if I’m not going to follow it?”
The solution, whether it’s thinking about time or thinking about it the circumstances that you’re encountering during your day, is change your thoughts, feel your negative feelings, gag-and-go through them, and take intentional action in spite of, and despite of, those emotions.
“Yeah, I’m afraid to be structured, as I’ve always prided myself on flexibility. But I realized this is self-defeating.” It totally is. I really want you to be thinking about how being more structured really gives you more freedom. Okay?
“Yeah, afraid of what I say to myself if I don’t do it.” Amazing, Claire, that’s such a good point. My perfectionists especially don’t like to make plans because if they don’t stick to them they beat themselves up. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to put a pin in the judgment. We’re going to put it on the shelf, and we’re just going to drop in and operate from curiosity.
We’re conducting experiments. You’re learning how to do something; it’s going to be very messy. That is okay. We’re just going to get 1% better every day. We’re not going to bully ourselves because we’re bad at something we’ve never learned how to do. It would be like, if you were trying to do calculus and no one’s ever taught you. Or you’re learning how to do it for the first time, you’re going to make mistakes.
Think about learning a language, you’re going to say some stuff wrong. You’re going to pronounce stuff wrong if you’re learning how to do it. Yeah, Amy, “I can’t quite get through the gag-and-go part. Maybe I’m dreading too big of a task; I choke and don’t finish.” You can break it up into smaller tasks, but you have to practice feeling dread and doing it anyways.
One of the things that I teach my clients in my group program is to pick something that you do every single day. A good example of this would be like clean the cat litter, or put the dishes in the dishwasher. Or maybe it’s a facial routine at night that you do, or make your bed, whatever. It’s one thing every day, that’s a really low lift, maybe it’s 10 push-ups that you can do without that much resistance. I have a whole podcast episode on this. It’s called “The F*ck It Point.” Go listen to that if you struggle with this.
You want to learn how to develop that discipline, so you can follow through and gag-and-go through the dread. Listen to that episode. I also have an episode totally on “Dread;” that’s the name of that podcast episode. It will touch on that. So, you see how mindset plays into this, right?
Now we’re going to lay the foundation. In order to master time management, you first have to know how you’re currently spending your time. How do you do this? You do it through time audits.
For those of you who bill hours, this is more than just tracking your billable time. Okay? When you do a time audit, it is a comprehensive audit of your schedule; of how you spend your time all throughout the day. So, you keep track of all 24 hours, how you spend it. You also want to be looking at why you’re making the choices that you’re making, each expenditure that you make.
Now, the things that you want to be looking for. You want to be looking for the length of time you spend on common tasks, what do you do day in and day out? How long do those tasks take you? Are there tasks that either could be reoccurring or are reoccurring? If what, what are they? Where do they fall on your schedule? When would you like them to fall on your schedule? How long do those things take?
What’s the time required to human? People significantly underestimate the amount of time it takes to be human. So, the amount of time it takes to be a parent. The amount of time it takes to just take care of yourself; shower, eat, sleep, all of those things, drink water, use the restroom, talk to a family member. So, what’s the amount of time required to be human?
Another thing I like people to really track is, how much time do you spend on email? Most people don’t know. They plan an eight hour day, and they don’t make any time for email. So, they’ll plan eight hours of substantive work, but they probably spend two hours on email a day. If you do that, you’re going to get to the end of the day, and you’re going to be at least two hours behind. Probably more, because you didn’t factor in time to eat lunch, time to human, all of that stuff. So, you’ll probably be at least three hours behind. You want to get clear on the time that you need to email.
Then you’ve got to build that into your plan. You also want to be paying attention, as you do your time audits, to what makes you behind. Is it interruptions? Is it procrastination? Are you reshuffling your schedule? Are you taking too long to finish things? Are you under estimating how long it takes to finish things?
We want to start to create some awareness there. I did a time audit when I prepped for this webinar, and almost all of my non-work time is going to parenting. Totally. Right? So, you’ve got to be cognizant of that. How much of that time does it take, and where are you going to put in other stuff that you have to do?
We want to create awareness through time audits. When you work with me you get amazing worksheets on doing a time audit. I have a worksheet that breaks things down into 15 minute tasks. You can create that yourself, but if you work with me you get it.
What you get out of that… You don’t need to make this overcomplicated. You don’t need to write down what you do every single second. I like to break it into… You could use tenths of an hour, or every 15 minutes, keeping track of what you do. That way you start to gain awareness as to how you’re spending all 24 hours of your time.
Once you’ve completed your time audit, now you get to begin simplifying your schedule. We do this in two ways. Number one, we practice constraint. The second thing we do to simplify your schedule is we make decisions ahead of time. So many people don’t make decisions one time and stick with them.
Instead, they wake up every day, and they remake the same decisions they make day in and day out. Constantly changing, constantly coming up with different ways to do things, when and what time you do things, how long you spend on something. You are constantly remaking the same decisions. Not only does this lead to decision fatigue, it’s just a waste of your time. It’s much easier, and much simpler, to decide one time and just stick with that.
Here’s some questions you want to be asking yourself in order to practice constraint and make decisions ahead of time. Looking at your time audit, what can you eliminate entirely? What can you eliminate entirely? Maybe you don’t want to watch YouTube videos anymore at night, because it doesn’t make sense and it keeps you up late. Or maybe you just want to reduce that, you only do it on the weekends.
Maybe you only watch TikTok on the weekends. Maybe you don’t like talking to family members during your workday, because it really puts you behind. Or maybe you have open office hours all day long, and you get a lot of interruptions. Maybe you want to reduce that to only being available from three to five for people to drop by.
You also can start to think about what can you put into time blocks. So, instead of being in your email all day long, can we put that into a time block? Where there are certain times throughout the day that you check email. I get your auto responders because I send out emails.
This one woman, I absolutely love her auto responder. All it says is, “Hey, this is unconventional, but I only checked my email once a day. So, you can expect a response from me after 4pm. If you send me an email after five, you won’t get a response for 24 hours. That may seem weird to you. But that’s just how I do it, and it allows me to really focus on my client work.” I was just like, that’s amazing. I love it.
So, what can you put into time blocks? How much do you want to work? Now, we’re starting to think about making decisions ahead of time. How much do you want to work? There’s no right or wrong answer to that, there’s only the answer that’s right for you.
But get clear, how much do you want to work? What would that look like on your schedule? When do you want to work? What are your desired start and stop times? What humaning activities do you do or want to do? When do you want to do them? When do you want to work out? What time do you want to go to bed? How much sleep do you want to get?
How much do you want to work? Two hours a day? Amazing, if that’s your honest answer, and you can swing it, you might be able to swing it. Some people can. If you can’t, we’ve got to align our expectations with what is realistic, right?
“I have that exact auto reply.” That is amazing, Shannon. It might be you if you’re on my email list. I don’t know if you are or not. But if so, that’s fantastic.
Okay, so when you’re going to do human activities, how long it’s going to take you? Then, really starting to think about, do you have a desired schedule for emailing, meetings that you have that you participate in, standing meetings with clients or team members? Are there certain times you’d like to do focused work?
Start to think about those things. What can we eliminate? What can we reduce? What decisions do we want to make ahead of time? It’s going to start allowing us to flesh out, basically a skeleton outline for your schedule that is really consistent and predictable.
To give you an example, my schedule is so easy, you guys. I wake up every day at 8:30am. I am not a morning person; I don’t care to be. I wake up at 8:30am. I work on LinkedIn. I write a social media post, and I engage for an hour to an hour and a half, and then I get ready at 10 o’clock. My first coaching call is at 11:00. Then I coach, basically five or six calls a day from 11:00-6:00 or 11:00-7:00. I have 15 minute breaks in between them, sometimes a half an hour, depending on the day.
At the end of the day I unwind for an hour, and then I figure out dinner. Typically, Monday-Wednesday at least, or Monday-Thursday, I do a little bit more work if there are things that I’d like to get done. For me, I have no problem working long days Monday-Thursday, because I want to be able to take Fridays off and enjoy my weekend.
But that’s what my schedule looks like every single week. Yeah, it’s inspiring. It is inspiring. I used to not be the person who was capable of doing this, but you can get there. It might look a little different for you. We’re going to give an example of it in a second, if you don’t have standing client calls like I have. But we’re going to create a schedule that works for you.
Now, we’re going to talk about the three key steps. Step one is reclaiming control of your calendar. “Yeah, my client calls are all over the place.” Yeah, mine used to be, too. We’ve got to consolidate that. You’ve got to make decisions about, what’s the one time slot that makes sense for me to fill next. Right? Don’t give them the option to pick whenever, only give them one or two options that work for you.
“When do you move your body, keep healthy, and keep that rockin bod healthy?” Thank you, actually I don’t work out. One of my priorities in the new year, I’ve already decided this, is to hire a personal trainer because I want to take better care of my physical health.
“The pressure to be making it rain in a pressed suit at 7am.” Only if you decide to make it rain in a pressed soon at 7am. Right? That’s a choice you’re making. You don’t have to wake up at seven and start working. Do you want to wake up at seven and start working? If you don’t, what do you want to do instead?
Claire, thank you. So sweet of you.
All right, step one, reclaiming control of your calendar. We’ve got to figure out where are you ceding control. So, I want you to tell me in the comments, where are you ceding control? To your clients? Do they email you and ask you to drop what you’re doing, and then you drop what you’re doing and triage, put out fires? Do you take unscheduled calls from them?
Do coworkers ask you to do something, and you drop what you’re doing, and you tend to that instead? Playing whack a mole. Are you multitasking? Do friends and family reach out and you give control to them? You let them interrupt you. You allow the interruption? Do you allow the interruption, or do you set a boundary? We’re going to talk about that in a second. Do you let people plan for you?
Think about the interruptions that you allow. Do you allow people to just swing by at any time? Do you allow people to schedule for you? If so, does that work for you? “Yes, my partner, it’s really hard to say, ‘I can’t help you.’” Totally. But we’ve got to start saying at least, “I can’t help you right this second.” Then, we work it into tomorrow’s plan.
I like to have people decide ahead of time what they’re going to say. You might just need to buy yourself more time and say, “Let me check my schedule, and I’ll get right back to you.” That way you can make an intentional decision and resist the urge to people please right in that moment. “It’s not a good time for me, not my best time of the day,” for sure.
So, who has power to schedule for you? Why do they have that power? How do you reclaim that power? Think about what changes do you need to make in order to reclaim control of your schedule? Do you need to stop people pleasing? Do you need to say no or suggest an alternative time? Do you need to set a boundary?
‘If you ask me for a same day turnaround, I will say no. If you ask me to work late on something, I will say no. If you email me after 5pm, I will not get to it till the next day.’ That’s a proper boundary.
Do you need to schedule standing meetings to head people off at the path, and control your calendar rather than having them spring things on you? If you schedule standing meetings, people won’t spring unscheduled calls or meetings on you nearly as much, because they know to expect that you’re going to be meeting with them.
Do you need to have a conversation with whoever schedules for you? Maybe it’s your assistant, and you need to get on the same page. We just had a conversation about that in the group program that I run.
Then, are there decisions ahead of time that you need to make? ‘No meetings before 9am. I only take my calls in the afternoons because the morning’s my time to do my most focused work. I don’t do back to back calls,’ because maybe something runs long. Figure out what changes you need to make and then make them. You’re going to have to feel uncomfortable, and allow that discomfort to be there in order to make those changes. That’s step one.
Step two, I’m so excited to teach you guys this. It is so comprehensive. I think people overcomplicate the living daylights out of time management. I have gone to work to make it as simple and straightforward, and fail proof, as I possibly can.
I don’t believe in separating things between urgent and important. I think that’s very confusing. All of my clients are like, “All of my stuff is urgent and important. How would I be able to decipher between the two?” So, step two is to plan your schedule accurately.
People do one of two things. Either they’re not making a plan at all, or they’re making wildly unrealistic plans that they’re never going to be able to accomplish. They’re trying to shove 24 hours of work into eight. Like we said earlier, that’s never going to work.
So, both of these approaches set you up to fail and fall behind on the work that you have in front of you. If you’re sick and tired of feeling behind all the time, we have to start planning your schedule accurately. Instead of not planning, or planning inaccurately, instead we’ve got to start by accepting that you can’t get nearly as much as you’d like to get done in a day. Okay?
You’re just not able to get that 24 hours’ worth of work done in eight. It sucks, I get it. But it’s true. I teach my clients to allow themselves to feel underwhelmed by what they can actually get done in a day. You have to process your underwhelm. It’s okay that you feel underwhelmed.
I wish I could do 24 hours in eight, you probably do too. It’s fine to have that desire, but once you recognize that you have the desire, like I said earlier, your expectation has to change. Once you accept that you can’t get nearly as much done in a day as you’d like, and you recognize that your daily plan isn’t going to be a wish list of what you wish you could get through, it’s going to get so much easier to actually plan your schedule accurately.
So, we’re going to focus on time management being a math problem. And through proper planning, by focusing on the math, you’re going to learn how to get the math right. Yes, “Again, reminding me that this is a practice.” It is a practice, 1,000%.
Here’s the process for how to properly plan your time. Number one… I said we were going to talk about all these things that you guys brought up earlier. Number one, rule of thumb, put all appointments on your calendar as soon as the need arises. As soon as the need arises. If you promise someone a time, and you’re waiting for them to confirm with you, go block that time and put it as a placeholder.
As soon as that time has a question mark, as to whether or not it will be available for you, you need to block that time off. It’s how you’re going to avoid double booking yourself and having conflicts that you later have to resolve. You need to do this, so we have a clear understanding of what your availability is, all the time, in real time. It’s got to be up to date.
This is a rule of thumb. Your brain is going to want to whisper to you, ‘Later, you can wait. It’s fine.’ No, no, no, no, no. Treat your brain like the toddler it’s trying to be, and help it course correct. Like, ‘No, we’re not doing that today.’ Because you’re not doing that today. You’re putting it on your calendar as soon as the need arises. All right? If you’re at home, say it with me, “We’re putting it on our calendar as soon as the need arises.”
Step two, you all are going to fight me on this, and I am ready for it. You need to make an electronic to do lists. No more written to do lists, they’re a waste of your time. I go so far as to say they are a masturbatory exercise. You do it because it feels good. But it doesn’t lead to the result you want it to lead to. It isn’t actually productive. You’re not producing anything with it.
The reason it’s not productive is that you have to keep remaking them. You cross some stuff off, now your list is messy, and then it gets too long, now you have to rewrite it, and you spend like 30 minutes at least once a week rewriting the same shit you already wrote down. We’re not doing it.
“Should the electronic list be the same format as the written list?” Yes. So we’re going to have only one list. I like it to sync with your phone and your computer. If you’re an Apple user, I use the Notes app in my phone. “I lol’ed for real. I adore you.” I love you, too. He’s so proud, right?
So, I want it to sync with your phone and your computer. If you’re a Mac user, I use my Notes app on my phone. I do not make it more complicated than that. If you use PCs, Microsoft’s To Do is really good. Wunderlist is another app. I have a client using Monday.com right now, I think that’s too complicated. I think there’s a lot of different features in there that just make it overly complicated. I want it to be as simple as possible.
If something has a court deadline attached to it, you can put a deadline. But if there isn’t a court deadline, I don’t want you to complicate it. Don’t make tasks switch from black to red. Then you have all this anxiety when you see that it’s red and you should have gotten it done already, and you’re picking timelines even though you don’t have a really clear estimate of when you’re going to be able to get to something. Don’t do that, just put the task.
Put enough information to where you’re able to identify it. Okay? So, we’re going to make an electronic to do list, one list, for all things personal and professional. We don’t keep two lists. I know the perfectionist hate that I just said that. I understand. I used to want all these pretty lists in all these separate places. You’re not going to maintain it.
You’ve got to trust me, I’ve coach on this thousands and thousands of hours, hundreds of clients, I’ve coached on time management. You will not stick to and maintain a to do list if you make the system too complicated. So, it’s got to be easy.
The next thing we’re going to do, we’re going to break projects up into tasks to help you get a better picture of what each task requires of you. So, instead of writing a ‘motion for summary judgment,’ that is way too big, that’s a project, we’ve got to break that project down by task. It would be Research issue one, Research issue two, Research issue three, Review the deposition transcripts, if you need to. Or Review case documents to make timeline. Summarize timeline and statement of facts, Draft introduction, Draft issues presented, Draft legal standard, Draft analysis; part one, part two, part three. Add citations, Write conclusion, Proofread, Send to client. All of these different things.
“Do you add things like ‘post Monday on Instagram’ to that list?” Yeah, mine’s on my calendar, I have that blocked in already. So, if it’s something that’s recurring, I don’t have to put it on my to do list because I know I’m living off of my calendar. Your to do list is really to put things on your calendar, it’s a reminder. So, if the recurring thing is there, you don’t need it on your to do list, because it’s already on your calendar.
However, if I am sending out emails for a launch of a program or to work with me, whatever, or a launch for this, I had specific emails that I wanted to write and send out, those did go on my to do list and checked them off as I did it. Because there were certain topics that I want to talk about. I record a podcast each week, but I don’t have that slotted in at a specific time, so that goes on my to do list and I have to find time for it in my week.
You want to break up projects into tasks, so you get a better idea of what each task requires of you. In planning this webinar: I have to outline it, make my flip chart, I have to order the flip chart, I have to send the email, I have to set up the Zoom, I have to get ready. And then, I have to do the webinar. Those are all things that are required in order to produce the webinar.
When I break it up, it gives me a better idea of ‘I need to make sure I have my whiteboards, my flip charts, before I can write my flip charts out.’ So you see what needs to go in what order, how long things take, when you need to make sure you have the things that you need, or have the time available to you so it all falls into sync. That’s step three.
Step four, you need to estimate how long each task is going to take you to complete. Next to, in parentheses, the task on your to do list, you should have an estimate. Do I think that’s going to take me .25, half an hour, an hour and a half, eight hours? Whatever it is, estimate how long each one of those individual tasks will take you.
In the beginning, you’re going to be terrible at this. So, my rule of thumb is double your estimate at least, just to be on the safe side. Estimate how long tasks are going to take you to complete, that way you’re starting to get an idea of how to plan your day.
Then you’re going to choose start and stop times for your day. Because we need to create book ends in order to get clear on how much time we have available. Once you choose them, calculate the total time you have available. You should already have all of your appointments on your calendar, then you’re going to plan your humaning. You’re going to have, from your time audit, an understanding of how long it takes you to human, put that in.
Then look at your to do list and plan less than what fits. If you are prone to lots of interruptions, I recommend people include a short amount of flex time in their schedule.
So, if someone calls you and they’re like, “Hey, do you have time to do this right now?” You’re like, ‘No, but I do at three o’clock,” so you don’t have to interrupt yourself, what you’re doing. You can complete it, but you have a little bit of time built into your schedule for something unexpected to arise. So, you plan less than what fits.
Then it comes time to implement the plan. Once you implement it, you’ve got to evaluate. I want you planning the night before. You use a different part of your brain when you plan the night before. You use your prefrontal cortex, instead of the primitive part of your brain that’s just trying to avoid the most immediate discomfort.
I want you to plan the night before and then implement the plan. At the end of your day you’re going to evaluate: How did the plan go? How did I do? We’re not going to operate from judgment, we’re just going to operate from curiosity. What worked? What didn’t work? What will you do differently?
You want this to be very, very specific. ‘I said yes to an unscheduled meeting, a last minute meeting, and I should have said no. I should have allowed myself to feel guilty.’ Remember, go back to: What thoughts, what feelings, and what actions didn’t serve me? What would I need to think? What feelings do I have to feel on purpose? What actions do I need to take instead? It’s that three problem framework I gave you earlier.
This is really important, once you figure out what didn’t work and what you need to do differently, you’ve got to apply the learning by doing tomorrow differently. You have to make changes. If you keep doing the same stuff, you’re going to keep getting the same results. Okay?
Here’s an example of what people typically do. They plan, ‘I’m going to work on a motion for summary judgment. I’ve got a 12 o’clock meeting.’ But the meeting runs long. So, if you had a call planned here, you end up canceling this call. Then someone comes in with an emergency.
And even though you were planning to work on the motion for summary judgment, now you do [inaudible] the rest of the day. While you were working on this you were checking your email. So, instead of having 8-12pm, four hours to work on that, you don’t have four hours anymore because you robbed yourself of two hours answering emails.
Then your meeting went long, so this got canceled and now you have to figure out where you’re going to do that call. All the time that you had planned to work on this, it didn’t happen, right? Does this sound familiar to anyone? This is what most people are doing day in and day out. You never get the work done. It’s how you start your day with a to do list, and then at the end of the day, you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything.
Now, what I suggest people to do, like I said earlier, make decisions ahead of time, practice constraint, figure out when you start your day. I don’t like to start until later. Maybe you don’t want to start until nine, so you’re just going to get ready in the morning.
We want to be realistic about how long email takes us. Now, you might want to start your day with a substantive project. But maybe you don’t. Maybe you want to do email, first thing, respond to what came in overnight. Give yourself an hour to do that.
Then decide if you take a lunch. If you do, maybe half an hour for lunch. Don’t tell me you eat lunch at your desk, it still takes you time to do that. Don’t double book yourself by under estimating how long this actually takes.
Now, you might want to have an email block right after lunch and maybe one before the end of the day. “This is taking up more room than it needs to.” Really, planning for the following day and evaluating can take five minutes. I just want it on your calendar.
So, if you do focused work, you’ve got two hours to get a project done. Maybe you’ve got a meeting here, and a call here. That’s a full day, but this is what it looks like. So, if you have focused work, you’d have to look at your to do list and figure out what can you do in two hours. Do you have a two hour task? Do you have two, one hour tasks? Do you have four, half an hour tasks? You have to plan only what fits in this time.
This is an example of what your day can look like if you’re planning the way that I teach you to plan. Okay? Yeah, “I don’t see this adding to eight billable hours a day.” So, you have to decide on that, right? If you’re emailing that’s probably one hour. Emails are billable, right? So, you’ve got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… What’s in flex time will probably be billable… 7, 8. See? It does add up to eight.
This has you ending at five, right? Which is so fun. “I love that emails are billable. I find that time hard to capture.” You just have to practice. Pay attention and check in with yourself. Are you avoiding feeling guilty by avoiding billing for emails? “I don’t want to live to email.” But you probably are living to email.
Now, you might not need this many email blocks, some people don’t. But a lot of my clients spend their entire day in their inbox, and if that’s you, we’ve got to create some blocks for it. “In my view, emails are associated with client files, so I only touch them when I work on the client’s file.” Amazing. “Email is life.” Yeah, so you’ve got to make time for it.
If it were me, I wouldn’t have a lunchtime block, I would want to create another big chunk of work, of focused work, down here. Or meetings and whatnot. I would just do email in the morning and email in the afternoon or in the late afternoon.
But a lot of people get too anxious in the beginning, so I let them include the email block in the middle of their day, just so they’re not going all day without it. I like you to define what “responsive enough” means to you. If you tell yourself responsive enough is responding within 24 hours, then two email blocks a day should be fine.
If you think being responsive is answering in two hours, then you’re going to have to set up your email blocks differently. This is an example of what it would look like in practice using my system.
Last step, step three, is everyone’s least favorite part. It’s the hardest part because it requires you to embrace discomfort. Once we’ve reclaimed control of our calendar, we’ve planned our schedule accurately, it comes time to honor your plan, the hardest part.
The way to do this, I told you I like rules of three in order to keep things simple, you’ve got to start on time, work without interruptions and end on time. You’re going to be bad at this, at first. But you want to practice.
When you’re doing your evaluations, ask yourself: Did I fail to start on time? Why did I fail to work without interruptions? Why did I fail to end on time? Why? You’re going to start to see what changes and tweaks you need to make to get 1% better at this every single day. Okay?
I also want you to keep a lookout… There are only four reasons that you don’t honor your plan. Either you don’t make a plan, so you’ve got nothing to honor. That’s one reason. Your plan wasn’t realistic, so you tried to get way more done, and you underestimated how long things would take. So, that’s why you didn’t stick to the rest of your plan. You started one thing, and you just took too much time to get through it. Or it took more time to get through than what you accounted for.
You reshuffled your schedule. So, you had a plan, stuff came in, and you jumped from what you were doing to attend to that. Or you procrastinated. This is it. When you’re evaluating, this is all you need to look for.
Now, your thoughts and your feelings are driving that behavior for sure. But you want to look, when you’re evaluating, did I start on time? How do I get better at doing that? Feeling the discomfort of starting, feeling that dread, feeling guilt to end a meeting earlier to start one on time.
Saying, “No, we’re not allowing interruptions.” Feeling the discomfort of that and ending on time. Feeling like you could put in more to a project but not letting yourself. Aiming for that sort of B+ work instead of aiming for the A+.
This is a really great framework to use for evaluations. It will help you honor your plan, and get better and better and better at that as time passes.
Last but not least, I just want to quickly talk about common mistakes that people make when it comes to managing their time. First things first, you plan best case scenario, okay? I don’t want you to do that. I want you to plan worst case scenario.
If it normally takes you 15 minutes to drive to the airport, ask yourself, what would it take with traffic? If you are going to a court hearing and you think it’s only going to be hour, but it could be three, because sometimes the judge doesn’t call your case until the end of the morning; plan for three hours. If you get back found time, amazing. It’s like finding $20 in your jeans, right? But you don’t want to set yourself up to be behind schedule.
Another thing I want to say about being behind schedule, I don’t believe in rollover behind. Okay. A lot of my clients torture themselves with rollover behind; think rollover minutes from like the early 2000s cellphone plans. I’m dating myself a little bit.
But people carry their behind from one day into the next day. I don’t believe in that. You cannot wake up in the morning already being behind schedule. Unless your plan was to wake up at eight and you woke up at 10am, then you are behind schedule. But you’re not behind from the day before.
Every day is a fresh start. You want to plan your start and stop times, plan what you’re going to do in your day, plan less than what fits so you’re planning really accurately, and if you get to the end of your day, you can be behind.
You might have reshuffled, you might have procrastinated, you might have taken too long on things, or underestimated how long stuff took. That’s fine. We’re going to evaluate and get better and better and better, to reduce the amount of time that we feel behind. But we don’t do rollover behind.
People double book themselves all the time. Stop doing this. You literally can’t be in two places at once. Don’t do that to yourself, all right? Also, when you notice that you’ve double booked yourself, people will avoid resolving the conflict immediately. That’s another rule of thumb: As soon as you notice the conflict, resolve it. It’s really going to save you so much emotional suffering.
I watch people indulge in perfectionism, so they don’t engage in this process because they feel messy, because they make it so complicated, like overcomplicating their to do list.
I also watch people quit the learning process because they don’t do it well right out of the gate. I want you to resist the urge to do that. You’ve got to stick with it. The only way you’re ever going to get better at this is if you commit to making those 1% improvements.
Chronic consumption mode, I watch this all the time. Rather than just coming here and implementing what you’ve learned today, you’ll go watch some YouTube videos on time management. and go listen to more podcasts from someone else who teaches it totally different than me. You’ll follow different people on Instagram, and maybe you’ll buy some new planners. Maybe you’ll read a book on it.
You keep trying all of this stuff, but you’re not really trying it, you’re just learning about it. You stay in consumption mode. You’ve got to get out of consumption mode, and you’ve got to get your hands dirty.
“Oops, pretty planners from Amazon cart.” Yes, you don’t need them. In fact, I discourage you from buying them, even though they’re pretty. I used to be a planner addict, too. It just doesn’t make sense. We live in an electronic world, you need to have the stuff on your electronic calendar, it syncs with your availability. We can’t do it in writing, it’s just too cumbersome.
Now, telling yourself that your schedule is unpredictable, don’t do that. When you tell yourself your schedule is unpredictable, you’re not going to spend any time predicting it. So, we don’t want to do that. We want you to believe that even if some things pop up and your plan changes, it’s still okay to have general rules of thumb, general structure, and you can make accommodations as they arise.
Not evaluating, it’s a massive mistake I see people make. You’re never going to learn if you don’t evaluate what worked, what didn’t work, what would you do differently.
Then, staying confused. The way people stay confused is they don’t get their hands dirty and try. So, the way to work through your confusion is to just get started, follow the steps that I taught you today, reclaim control of your calendar, plan your schedule accurately, follow that 10-step process I gave you, and honor your plan. Do it imperfectly, and allow yourself to learn. That’s the only way you’re going to get out of confusion and into feeling capable.
That’s what I have for you. I hope this was helpful.
Now, for my special announcement. I am going to drop a link in the chat. I’m so excited about this. I am getting ready to launch a new program, it’s called Lawyers Only. It is a monthly subscription service where we will meet weekly for coaching.
But there will also be courses. The first course is going to be all on time management. I’m going to give you the foundational basics to managing your mind, as well. So, those are going to be the first modules. Then I’m going to keep adding courses as time goes on.
It’s going to be a monthly program. Most of my programs are short, and in containers. So, you work with me for six months, and then you decide whether or not you want to keep going. This isn’t going to be that; it’s going to be a monthly subscription.
So, you’re just always going to have the support of my coaching and the community that I create. It’s going to be for lawyers only. So, only practicing attorneys who are dealing with the exact same struggles that you’re struggling with.
All of the stuff that I’ve offered before, whether it’s one-on-one coaching or my masterminds, have been what we call in coaching “high ticket offers,” four figures, five figures: significant investments. What I wanted to do is two things.
With the in-person event that I run, I realized that a lot of people want to work with me, and they want to learn the tools that I teach, but they don’t want to have to take off work. They don’t want to have to fly across the country.
They want to just be able to be in the comfort of their own homes, be on their laptops, and learn from me. Communicate with me through Zoom, not take time off work, not have to sort out childcare, not have to step away from their busy practices. They just want to be able to do it as part of their weekly routine.
So, I wanted to create the ability to do that with a monthly subscription. We meet each week for an hour, for a coaching call. Then there’s going to be a member portal with all of these amazing resources, a community where you can come ask me questions, ask your peers questions, learn from one another, celebrate, get unstuck, get out of your confusion, and figure out how to solve problems and move forward.
Then we’ll focus on all the different topics that I teach. Time management is going to be the first focus. But we’ll also cover how to set boundaries, how to develop business, how to delegate, how to get organized, how to relax; all those fun topics that you’ve seen me teach month after month through my webinars, if you’ve been coming to my webinars for a while. I wanted to make coaching more accessible to more people.
The way that the subscription will work, it’s just going to be $150 a month. It’s going to be just like Netflix, where it’s recurring. You get access to all of that amazing content, and I’m going to keep putting in new content, so it never gets stale. You’re always going to have new stuff to learn. And you’re always going to have a place to come and get support with whatever it is that you’re struggling with.
I’m going to launch this membership later in October. Okay, I’m going to be sending out, the first time I open enrollment, I’m only going to accept a limited number of people. If you are committed to mastering time management, you want to be in that first group. I dropped the link in the chat. That is an interest list. I want you to sign up.
If you’re interested in joining, I’m going to send you a private email inviting you to join, instead of you needing to wait for the public enrollment. So, by coming to this masterclass and spending this time with me, you’ve already shown that you’re committed to getting better at this.
So, I want to invite you to sign up for that interest list. Keep your eye on your email. Over the course of the next two weeks you will be getting an email from me inviting you to join the inaugural cohort of this monthly subscription, Lawyers Only. So, do that.
“It’s exactly what I’m needing.” Exactly. I’m so excited people have been started talking about it a little bit on social media. This is my first big announcement. I’m so excited to offer this to people. It is going to allow people to get my help, to learn the coaching tools that I teach my one-on-one clients and the people that have been in my mastermind, at such an accessible price.
It’s going to be the biggest overdeliver you can possibly imagine. It’s really going to change the way that you practice law, the way that you enjoy your career, the way that you enjoy your life. I absolutely can’t wait to launch it. So, make sure you’re in there. Make sure you’re going to be one of the first people to join.
I can’t wait to see you on our first call, which will be at the beginning of November. Keep your eyes on your email in order to sign up for that.
“Thanks.” You’re so welcome. “Great class. Thank you so much for sharing. Not a lawyer, unfortunately.” That’s okay. I hope you got a ton of value out of this, regardless of whether you practice or not. “Waiting for the paralegal course, as well.” “So fun.” “I’m going to stick with the podcast.” “Thanks so much.” You guys are so welcome. I hope this was valuable.
“Awesome class, as usual.” My absolute pleasure. I hope you have a beautiful weekend. Thank you so much for spending time on your Friday. And I look forward to seeing you. “Sounds like a great program, no question.” Thank you so much.
I’m so excited about it. It is going to be a game changer for people. Make sure you go sign up, that way you can sneak in there before anyone else gets access to it. “Miss you.” Miss you too, Carol. So good to see you.
“Thanks, Olivia. Have a great weekend.” You’re welcome, Samantha. All right, you guys. Bye, Vivian. Bye, everyone.
Have a great weekend. I’ll talk to y’all soon. Have fun managing your time.
Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.