Friday Five: Ways To Be More Productive

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Image Credit: | Friday Five: Ways To Be More Productive | Few people are as busy as lawyers, so it can be difficult to stay as productive and organized as we’d like.

You have 30 unconventional cases on your plate, free consultations, paperwork, and days where you don’t see the outside of a courtroom.

With this whirlwind of to-do’s, it’s no wonder why being an attorney is one of the most stressful jobs.

If you can relate to this, then check out this article on staying organized, productive, and stress-free.

1. Create Attainable Goals

Goal setting can be broken into three different steps: assessment, planning, and implementation.


  • Write down all the things you want to accomplish over the next week, month, and year.  If you feel there is something in your life that needs changing, write it down! 

If you get stuck, take a break and then come back, let your mind wander and start writing again about things like the cobbs agreement.

When you are done with this, take a break for a day and then come back and go over what you have written.

  • Next, organize your words into categories that make sense to how you work as a person.

    Leave yourself space for subcategories. For example, if you want to get more clients to hire you this year you could have a subcategory for a book on sales you want to read this year.

  • After completing the main and subcategories part of your list, go ahead and rank them.  What is the most important? Do any interfere with your personal happiness the most? 


  • Make sure some of your goals are small. It’s ok to set some big goals as well, just be sure not to overwhelm yourself. Try to do a little each day to reach your goal.

  • Since organizing is on your priority list make a plan to guide you in how to become a better-organized lawyer. Is your office too small? Then plan several hours a week to create more space.

    Maybe you sell something you don’t need or look for a bigger office at an affordable price.  Make specific goals, vagueness is something that keeps you from getting the results you want.

  • If you have no idea where to start when it comes to organization, let your friends, family, and colleagues know about your goals. You will be surprised at how many good ideas they will be able to give you.  


Just do it! Get moving! Stay motivated and you will be amazed at how much you can achieve this year. Trust me, the rewards of achieving goals are very sweet!

2. Take Better Care Of Yourself

I don’t know about you, but even though I love my job, I have to admit that it can be very stressful sometimes. 

Stress is a killer and has been proven to be a major cause of heart attacks.

One thing that is certainly more important than your job is your health. If you don’t take care of yourself, your career will suffer as well as your health. 

Working 80 hours a week and not sleeping for more than four hours a day is going to crumble your health slowly. 

Make a commitment to get more sleep, exercise more, and eat better. 

If you are a person of faith, make sure you nurture your faith and spend time with those who share your values for comfort and support.

Just walking at least twenty minutes straight has amazing health benefits for both the body and mind. 

3. Create Distraction Free Time

Part of being a successful attorney is finding the right mix of time spent interacting with people like clients, staff, judges, etc. vs. time spent working on your own.

Every day, you’ll need to create a distraction-free environment so you can get the most amount of work done.

Here are a few tips:

  • Use A Gatekeeper: Train your secretary on how to protect you from unwanted distractions.
  • Turn Off Your Notifications: Unless you are expecting a call that you cannot miss, don’t be afraid to turn off your notifications. You’d be surprised what you can accomplish in a 15-minute work sprint when you’re not constantly checking texts and emails.
  • Educate Your Clients: Learn to respectfully train your clients on best practices when getting in touch with you. What’s an emergency vs. a routine question and how’s the best way to respect your time while still servicing them.
  • Schedule Ahead Of Time: Schedule out your tasks ahead of time. Doing this allows you to jump straight into productive work when you get a free moment.

4. Eat The Frog

I’m going to share two wonderful Mark Twain quotes:

“If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will be wonderful.” – Mark Twain

He also said:

“If you have to eat a frog, don’t look at it for too long.” – Mark Twain

What does that mean?

Basically, you should take the worst and most unpleasant task that you DON’T want to do and accomplish that first. 

Once it’s out of the way, you’ll feel a huge burden lifted off your shoulders and you’ll have massive momentum to attack the rest of the day.

5. Don’t Be Afraid To Say No

A bad habit we tend to fall into is saying, “yes” too often and overcommitting.

When you get sweet-talked into commitments you don’t have time for, the quality of your work suffers across the board.

Instead, you’re better off keeping your commitments small and your results amazing. This will make you more productive.

As the saying goes, “under-promise and over-deliver.”


Shawn Haff is the owner of The Criminal Defense Law Center of West Michigan. He received his J.D. from Cooley Law School in 2009 and currently represents individuals charged with criminal offenses like drug possession, drunk driving, and criminal sexual conduct.

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