Having solid systems is the key to streamlining your practice.
So that it runs smoothly without your constant input or guidance.
Because when you can step away from your practice to take a one or two week vacation, knowing that everything will keep humming along steadily…
Then you can relax completely and enjoy life more. Right?
But how do you make this happen?
How do you create those solid systems?
First, you have to think about the process as lots of small increments.
(In the last post I talked about how Roger Bannister used this approach to break the four minute mile).
So, that’s the mindset you need to adopt and leverage.
Next, you have to set aside time to work on your systems.
The time has to be a dedicated, regular time. A recurring time slot.
You put it on your calendar and create a recurring appointment with yourself to map your systems, or refine them.
At first your systems-mapping appointment should be once a week, for at least 30 minutes (although the first one or two might last an hour, which is great)
If you can create this regular, recurring appointment then you will have implemented STEP #1 of your MOST IMPORTANT SYSTEM.
That is, your system for creating and refining your systems.
This is the sacrosanct time when you work ON your business, instead of in it.
And the mere fact that you’ve carved out a sacrosanct time is pivotal.
If you can carve out this time, put it on your calendar and actually show up and work on your business, then you’ll have transitioned to a new level.
Your practice will now start to steadily improve.
Work will become steadily easier, less chaotic, less stressful.
All because you carved out time to work on your business, and…
Then, actually worked on your business by defining systems for things like…
- how phone callers will be treated and what information will be given to them
- how new clients will be on-boarded so they feel confident they made the best decision to hire you
- how clients will be kept up to speed on what’s happening in their cases so that they don’t start feeling anxious and then call you in a fit of desperation that makes you feel stressed out
When you start defining systems you can more easily figure out what to automate and how to set up the automation smoothly, without disrupting anything in your day-to-day practice.
There is a non-obvious reason why carving out time to work on systems will transform your practice in amazing ways.
Want to guess what that non-obvious reason is?
Think about it and then scroll down to see if you’re right.
The reason is that you’re able to make important strategic decisions in the proper state of mind.
When you’re busy solving client problems there are a lot of fires to put out.
It’s stressful, and sometimes chaotic.
When you’re making quick decisions your state of mind tends to switch to “binary mode.”
As in, “yes or no,” or “this option versus that option.”
When you’re in a hurry your brain is not going to see a lot of nuance.
You see this clearly when you look at people who are angry or deeply upset.
They make impetuous decisions.
So when you’re making decisions about how to run your firm you want to be in the opposite state of mind from rash decision-making.
You want to be in a thoughtful, reflective state of mind.
You need to be confident that you’ll have at least 30 minutes to think freely.
So it’s probably best to schedule your “systems thinking time” for the early morning on a day that you know will work as a regular time slot.
Saturdays are good if you can do it then.
But the real key is to do it first thing in the morning before the mad rush starts.
Because once your mind shifts into reaction mode it’ll be hard to shift it into reflection mode.
You can dramatically improve your law firm’s operations.
And the best way to do this is by setting aside a regular time to work on systems, automation, delegation etc.
Work on anything that needs to be improved and is vital to your practice.
Do this regularly, every week for at least 30 minutes.
And if you do this for a couple of months in a row, watch what happens to your practice.
I know what will happen.
And so do the many lawyers who’ve done this in their practices.
Your practice will transform in mind-boggling ways.
And it will get increasingly easier to manage.
Til the point where one day you are on a long vacation, enjoying life and not thinking at all about work.
That’s when you’ll realize the power of small, steady, incremental changes.
The Japanese call this Kaizen.
But you’ll probably call it Nirvana.
It’s exclusively for solo and small firm lawyers that want to better manage and market their practices (so they can take more time off and enjoy life more)
Remember, when you set things up right (which takes time and strategic planning) you can have a firm that it feels like it’s virtually running itself.