Last week, we focused on building your block schedule. This week, we’re going to talk about actually implementing that schedule.
We all get the same 24 hours a day, 168 hours per week, 365 days a year. It’s how you choose to use that time that determines whether you build the life – and the law firm – of your dreams. How will you spend your 168?
Give Yourself Credit
You should have a solid first draft of your block schedule by now. Here’s what you’ve already gotten done:
- You made a list of all of the things you need to get done during your work week.
- You estimated how long it takes you to do each of the things on your list.
- You determined when you’re at your best to work on each task or project.
Your schedule should look something like our sample block schedule.
Woo hoo! Building your block schedule is often the hardest part. Now that that’s done, let’s talk about actually implementing your new block schedule.
A Word to the Wise
Before we dig in, I want to make sure that you realize and accept that transitioning to a block schedule will take a little time. How long is it going to take? That depends on how far out your calendar is already booked. If you already have new appointments booked out four weeks in advance, it will probably take about that long to have your block schedule fully implemented.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, but if you hang in there, this block schedule will help you take control of your work day, be more productive, and get more done.
Let’s Do This
- Review It. Take one final look at your block schedule before you go over it with your team. Make sure you have accounted for all of the things that need to fit into your work week and that you’ve been realistic with how long things take. This is a quick glance, not a complete rewrite.
- Introduce It. It’s time to introduce your block schedule to your team. Take 15 – 30 minutes and explain why you’re implementing this and how it will ultimately help everyone. This is the time to talk about the big picture. Yes, this block schedule is for you. but when you’re more productive and more efficient, the Firm can grow, meet its goals, help more clients, and help your team reach their own personal, professional, and financial goals. Do this part well and you will have your entire team on board, ready to help make this a success.
- Be Open to Feedback. Encourage questions and feedback from your team. You’re not perfect – and they often know your schedule and to do list better than you do. Be open to feedback. If making an adjustment here or there will improve the entire schedule, it’s worth considering another perspective.
- Get Started. Once everyone is on board and happy with the block schedule, pick a date and get started. Today’s the perfect day. Make sure everyone has a copy and understands the blocks, then do what you can to stick to your new schedule today. You (and anyone else who makes appointments for you) need to schedule everything going forward within the parameters of your blocks. Don’t forget – it may take a few weeks to fully transition to the new schedule, but do your best now.
- Consider Tweaks. Try out your new schedule for the next 30 days, then, sit down with your team again and evaluate how things are going. What’s working? What isn’t? Is there anything you need to improve or revise to make it better? Hopefully everything is working like a Swiss watch and you don’t need to make any changes. If something is challenging or causing an issue, don’t be afraid to make tweaks as necessary.
I’ve helped dozens of attorneys take charge of their days with a custom block schedule and I have found that I often get the same few questions about it. I’m guessing they are on your mind, too.
1. Can I use a block schedule if I don’t have a team to help me yet? I’m still a true solo.
Yes! You can still benefit from implementing a block schedule, even if you’re on your own. In fact, I think it’s even more critical that you put this in place now, before you have a team to manage. You can work out the kinks on your own and when you do hire your first employee, you can quickly and easily teach them how your block schedule works.
2. I have tried a block schedule before, but I never stick to it. I really want to get control of my work days, but as soon as I get busy or overwhelmed, the schedule goes out the window.
You can do it. You have to work hard to practice some self-discipline at first, but I promise, you can do it. Once you start to feel more productive and efficient, it’s easy to stick to it. Until then, here’s what I suggest:
- During a focused block, close your email, stay off of social media, and put your cell phone away.
- Set a timer or calendar notification to remind you when it’s time to move to a new task.
- Encourage your team to help hold you accountable.
3. What if I have an emergency come up and I can’t stick to my block schedule?
Listen, I get it. We all have the best of intentions, but, life happens. Things come up. That’s okay. Be prepared for an urgent or emergent matter to crop up here and there. You can confidently take the time out of your day to handle the situation – and reschedule the block that got replaced. You may need to do more legal work on Wednesday or push your staff meeting to a Monday afternoon. That’s okay, but don’t ever let anything get scheduled over without moving it.
We all get the same 24 hours a day, 168 hours per week, 365 days a year. It’s how you choose to use that time that determines whether or not you build the life – and the law firm – of your dreams. How will you use your 168?
To your success!
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.