"Just Don't!" - The Not To-Do List


It's a crazy world. Social media, 24-hour news cycle, client emergencies - it's a wonder we get anything done. This month, Affinity Partner Paul Unger helps you manage distractions and become more efficient. 

The tips below are just part of the Paul's Not To-Do List. For the rest, download the eBook or attend the FREE webinar - or both!
  1. Do NOT begin your day by immediately diving into email. Instead, begin your day with a 5-minute private planning session. I use SELF Journal for this and time block my day on paper, along with stating some 30,000 foot goals and recite 3 things I am  thankful for. Put together a plan for your day before diving into email. You can always adjust as the day unfolds, but start with a plan.
  1. Do NOT start your day without a team huddle. Instead of diving right into your email, or your first appointment or project, after your 5-minute planning session (above), have a quick huddle with your immediate team. I call this the lightning round. Each person has 60 seconds to recite what they have going on today and for the rest of the week. This encourages communication, awareness of projects, and almost always results in shifting some tasks and schedules around to better distribute work and help each other.
  1. Do NOT participate in meetings unless there is an agenda, and never organize one without one. I like to take it a step further and try to identify a goal or theme for the meeting to give it “purpose” or spark engagement. Whatever the case, showing up to a meeting without an agenda and clear purpose is a recipe for wasting time and killing morale.
  1. In meetings, do NOT say “I will get that done this weekend or tonight”! Why would you derail your personal life that way? Stop being a martyr and schedule to do these things during the business day. We all need a life outside of work  and making promises like this will kill your personal life.
  1. In meetings, do NOT let people ramble. We all know these people. They either don’t prepare for a meeting, don’t read the agenda and stay on task, or they just love to hear themselves talk. Everyone’s time is valuable and deserves respect. When this happens, politely say “perhaps we can talk about this offline or record it as an issue to include on a future agenda so we can tackle the issues on our agenda today.” Don’t be too rigid about this though! Sometimes, spontaneous topics are  important. Try to fit those spontaneous topics into an agenda item where the floor is open for items NOT on the agenda.
  1. Do NOT keep your Outlook Inbox up on your computer monitor all day! Your inbox is one of the most disruptive environments to place yourself in if you are trying to do project work  or “deep” level work. It’s like choosing to write a complex brief or letter in a war zone! Literally every 2-3 minutes, a bomb or a fire is landing in your inbox. How can one possibly focus in an environment like that? Instead, skim your calendar in the morning and decide how often and for how long you can batch process your emails that day. Every day will be different. Aim for something reasonable like 5 times a day (the average American worker checks email an idiotic 74 times a day!).
  1. Do NOT carry your phone 24/7. Let’s face it, that smartphone is a ball and chain. If you don’t believe me, take a phone “fast” by leaving your phone in the car’s glovebox all day while you are at work. Let your loved ones know to reach you at the office phone if an emergency occurs. You will feel LIBERATED. It is incredible how often we check our phones during the day, and it is having a terrible impact on productivity.
  1. Do NOT answer the phone from an unknown caller. Look, we never want to miss an important call or lose a potential new client that may be calling in. I get it, but you must balance this rule appropriately. If your job is sales/business development, you probably will take more calls from unknown callers. If your job is more project work, you should take fewer calls. When we take calls from unknown callers, we risk derailing our day by getting sucked into a conversation we aren’t ready for, or a similar situation. It is always a little dangerous.

For more Not To-Do's and tips on how to manage and reduce the distractions that are hurting your efficiency and profitability, join Paul for a FREE webinar on Wednesday, December 18, at 1 PM EST. Register now for "Distraction Management & Digital Detox - Setting Yourself Up to Succeed in 2020!

To discuss how to manage the many distractions that intrude into your professional life, contact us any time. You can reach us at 877-676-5492, or simply request a consultation.  


Forget About Your To-Do List - Time Management for Attorneys


Paul Unger

Written by Paul Unger

Paul is an Affinity Partner and law practice consultant with a passion for teaching attorneys how to use technology and how to automate their practice. He teaches and coaches lawyers how to be more efficient with time, task, document & email management, and just as important, distraction management by offering customized time management workshops for lawyers and their staff throughout North America. He helped modernize the use of courtroom technology and is an expert in paperless office strategies and document management. He is also an author of numerous books, manuals, and articles. Paul is a national speaker and frequent lecturer for CLE programs.

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