In late August, FastCompany (one of my favorite magazines/websites) posted the article “What Successful People Do With The First Hour of Their Workday.” Author Kevin Purdy asked successful individuals how they use the crucial first sixty minutes after arriving at the office. Suggestions include:
1. Don’t Check Email for the First Hour of Your Day: FastCompany and other sources (including David Karp, founder of Tumblr), say that if you work in a job that doesn’t require “constant on-call awareness, [you] can trade e-mail for organization and single-focus work.” While some of us may debate whether or not legal marketing requires ‘constant on-call awareness,’ the idea of spending the first part of your morning making sure that the rest of the day will run as smoothly as possible makes a lot of sense.
Another benefit? According to FastCompany, by reserving the first hour of your morning for something other than responding to incoming emails, you will subtly train “interruptors and coworkers not to expect [an] instantaneous morning response to anything they send in your off-hours.” Spend the first hour of your day dealing with items from yesterday (or earlier) and don’t get distracted by the new items that are going to end up on your to do list.
Further Reading: The Way I Work: David Karp – Inc. Magazine
2. Gain Awareness. Be Grateful: Noted self-help author and speaker Tony Robbins suggests beginning your day with “an ‘Hour of Power,’ ’30 Minutes to Thrive,’ or at least ‘Fifteen Minutes to Fulfillment.’ Part of it involves light exercise, part of it involves motivational incantations, but the most accessible piece involves 10 minutes of thinking of everything you’re grateful for: in yourself, among your family and friends, in your career, and the like. After that, visualize “everything you want in your life as if you had it today.” Sounds a little touchy-feely, I know- but give it a shot. It may turn out to be a more refreshing start to your day than inhaling coffee and shuffling papers.
Further Reading: Using Ritual to Kick Yourself Into Gear
3. Do The Big, Shoulder-Sagging Stuff First: I know. You WANT to work on that fun project for the nice partner who always says thank you. Who wouldn’t want to start their day off with the most pleasant task on their to do list? What if you changed your perspective to: “If I make some progress on the worst thing on my list, it’s behind me for the rest of the day.”? Still not convinced? Mark Twain was an advocate of this idea, colorfully suggesting ”Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.” Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the thing you dread most is behind you?
Further Reading: Eat That Frog
4. Choose Your Frog: Gina Trapani suggests that before you leave the office in the evening, make a note of which “frog” you’ll be tackling first the next day- and have the resources to begin the project available for when you come in. As FastCompany says, “One benefit to tackling that terrible, weighty thing you don’t want to do first thing in the morning is that you get some space from the other people involved in that thing–the people who often make the thing more complicated and frustrating. Without their literal or figurative eyes over your shoulder, the terrible thing often feels less complex, and you can get more done.”
Further Reading: Worst Thing First
5. Ask Yourself If You’re Doing What You Want To Do: Yikes. Big Questions first thing in the morning? Shouldn’t that wait until caffeine is pumping through your system? FastCompany refers to a speech given by Steve Jobs at Stanford graduation:
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
You can obviously look at this quote and suggestion at a macro level (“What am I doing with my life?!?!”) or on a smaller scale. My interpretation is this: If I’m consistently unhappy doing what I’m doing, chances are excellent that I’m not providing my attorneys and firm with the best possible service and work product. Who can I talk to about utilizing my skills, talents and interests more effectively? Which of my talents can be exploited and used for the benefit of my firm? How do my talents and interests fit with the needs of my clients?
Further Reading: Five Essential Steps to Create Career Fulfillment
6. Customer Service: According to FastCompany, “Your own version of customer service might be keeping in touch with contacts from year-ago projects, checking in with coworkers you don’t regularly interact with, asking questions of mentors, and just generally handling the human side of work that quickly gets lost between task list items. But do your customer service on the regular, and you’ll have a more reliable roster of helpers when the time comes.”
Think about it this way: what do we tell our lawyers to do? Keep in touch with contacts, colleagues and clients- particularly when they aren’t asking for new business. For legal marketers, this may mean touching base with a particularly quiet partner, looking over old to do lists to check on progress or results, or spending a few minutes actively participating in industry-related discussions on social networking sites like Twitter or LinkedIn.
Further Reading: Four Reasons Why It’s Essential to Follow Up Legal Marketing