In these last few weeks of the year, I’m in full strategy mode. One of the things I like to do this time of year is to review my routines. I analyze what is working and what is not, so I can make improvements for the new year.
A routine is a sequence of actions regularly followed. And the objective of a powerful routine is to make major headway in your goals by simply sticking to the routine.
With routines, you work towards your goals on auto-pilot.
For example, if you wanted to write a book you could create a routine of writing for an hour a day. As long as you follow the routine you will accomplish this goal. If you make daily writing a routine, you don’t have to think about if you should write today or how long to write- you just do it.
The right routines will help you make your visions a reality.
5 Powerful Routines That Will Take Your Solo Practice To The Next Level
Routine 1: Perfect Your Morning
One change that made the biggest difference for me in 2016 was establishing an actual morning routine.
I am not a morning person. Before establishing a routine I would hit the snooze button multiple times, wake up late, skip breakfast and rush to get ready for the day. Starting the day this way often left me feeling stressed which carried over into the rest of the day.
Once I put a routine in place, my mornings are a lot smoother. I wake up at the same time every day, meditate, workout, have breakfast then review my to-do list. By the time I’m ready to work I feel calm and focused.
Since perfecting my morning routine I also get more done every day. I start work much earlier and I’m more energized.
Routine 2: (Re)Connect
Connecting with new people or reconnecting with people already in your network is the best way to stay top of mind. There are many simple ways to do this:
- Email an article they may be interested in.
- Leave a thoughtful comment on a social media post they’ve shared or an article they’ve written.
- Ask them to meet for coffee.
- Introduce them to someone you think would be an asset to their network.
These things only take a few minutes every day but will result in a more powerful network, meaning more referrals for to you.
Routine 3: Plan Your Day
This one takes a little willpower but will keep you organized and productive. I spend the last 20 minutes of my workday planning the next day. I know the top task I want to achieve and use time blocking to actually put my tasks on my calendar.
When it’s time to get to work I can hit the ground running because I know exactly what I need to get done, when I plan to do it, and how long I think it will take.
Some people choose to do this in the morning, but I feel like it slows me down. It takes me much longer to get started when I have to think about what I need to do. Knowing what I need to do before I even start my days helps me stay focused and motivated.
Routine 4: Read
Contrary to what most lawyers believe, we don’t know everything. Reading is the best way to learn new ideas, techniques, and points of view. Some of the best strategies I’ve used to grow my practice have come from reading.
It’s easier than you think to make reading a part of your routine. You can read before bed, on your commute, on your lunch break, while waiting between meetings or at court. There are also a surprising number of books you can listen to on YouTube, or you can download an audio book using Audible.
Routine 5: Declutter & Organize
A cluttered environment decreases efficiency, productivity, and profitability. As a busy solo, it’s imperative that you are able to stay on top of everything and that’s impossible to do when your workspace is a mess.
Before shutting down for the day, take a few minutes to clean off your desk, put files away and empty your briefcase. I even take a few minutes to set up anything I need for my first task of the next day.
This seems simple enough, but I’ve been in many solo attorneys offices and they clearly are not on top of their organization and clutter routine. And it shows when they are frazzled and unprepared because they can’t find an important document.
It’s so much easier to spend 10 minutes a day staying on top of things than spending hours later trying to get back on track.
How to implement routines and stay accountable
Implementing any routine will only work if you actually follow through with it.
First, you need to know why you are doing it. If you don’t have a good reason for starting a routine it will be easy to make excuses not to do it.
You also need to schedule a specific time or trigger for the routine. The end of my workday varies based on what I need to do that day, but finishing the last task on my to-do list for the day is my trigger to make my list for the next day. I do it automatically without really thinking about it.
I find it easier to stick with something new when I have an “out” in sight. So when starting a new habit or routine I’ll give it a trial period of 30 days. It’s easier for me to give it a chance for that limited period of time since I know I can quit without guilt after the 30 days are over. In most cases, by that times it’s already a part of my daily routine so I stick with it.
The last thing you need to do is review and improve. Some routines won’t always be a good fit for your life so you need to review them and determine if you can improve it or if you need to let it go.
As a busy professional, you don’t have time to waste on tasks that are not beneficial to your life so don’t keep doing something simply because it’s what you’ve always done.
Implementing the right routines can take your business to the next level. What routines have made a difference in your law practice?