The Power of Procrastination

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I have a confession.

I battle procrastination every single day.  It is terrible.  I constantly feel as though I am up against a deadline.  Actually, that is not correct.  I feel like I am up against a guy with a loaded gun pointed against my head…waiting to pull the trigger.

It is a constant pressure that drives me crazy.  I get frustrated and angry with myself when I wait until the last minute to do things.  I get upset at the people in my office for scheduling the appointments with the clients (like they knew I was going to wait until the last minute to get the work done).  I get depressed when it happens again and again because I feel helpless to stop it. I rarely miss a deadline but I ALWAYS feel uncomfortable.

Well, I used to feel uncomfortable and helpless…

My team and I have developed a system to help me beat this personal deficiency.  In fact, we have learned to use it to our advantage.  My hope is that if I share my little trick with you, you will be able to use it in your law firm. Don’t think of it as time management.  Think of it as activity management.

Here is what we have done:

First:  We set artificial deadlines on all projects.  These internal deadlines are designed to put pressure on me to feel the same pain of procrastination but feel it earlier than the true deadline.  This does not mean the project is completely finished and out the door earlier, it just means that it is STARTED earlier.  I have found that getting started is 90 percent of the problem.

Next:  My assistant asks me how much time is necessary to complete the project.  She then adds an additional 20 percent to my estimate and blocks time on my calendar for completion before the deadline.  (I always underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete a project).

By the way, a critical change in my business life was turning all my appointment scheduling over to someone else. Part of my problem is that I would never say NO to anyone and I would always be overscheduled.  Now I have view only access to my calendar.  I cannot schedule an appointment if I want to.  Everything goes through my assistant.

Finally:  I review my upcoming meetings with my office team one week prior.  It is a staff meeting to hold me accountable.  They do not critique my recommendations to the clients they just make sure I have the work done.

Key point:  We treat internal projects (like marketing initiatives) the same way we treat client projects.

I suspect many people have procrastination issues.  It is human nature.  This little procrastination prevention system has made me much more efficient and effective.  Is there a way you can create something similar in your law practice?