What do you suppose was the most frequent coaching agenda item I received from lawyers I coached?

It was managing time. Lawyers said to me:

“I do not have time to do my billable work, client development and still have a family life.”

Since the lawyers I coached asked the question time and again, that topic is likely on your mind as well.

Some time ago, I listened to a Harvard Ideacast titled: Are You Spending Your Time the Right Way?

I urge you to listen to it. In the podcast Melissa Raffon has many helpful ideas, including making a list of things to do, then estimating how much time each will take and then blocking out time in your calendar to do them. When I practiced law I tried to do that each week.

Melissa also posted a blog Are You Spending Your Time the Right Way? Her ideas in the blog were also helpful. In the blog post, she suggests breaking down your responsibilities into categories and then planning time around those categories.

Based on what I learned from reading Stephen Covey’s books: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and First Things First I began to plan my week around my roles: Father, Son, Husband, Brother, Practice Group Leader, Practicing Lawyer, Client Developer, Sunday School Teacher and Youth Group Leader. Based on Covey’s advice, each week I wrote down the most important activity I could do in each role.

Because my work frequently took me out of town, and because I worked on client development on Saturday mornings, Saturday afternoons were “father-daughter” time.

Jill and I ate lunch where she chose (usually an ethnic restaurant that Nancy did not like), Then we were off to do whatever she wanted to do. That time with Jill was usually the most important thing I could do each week as a father. Now, many years later I still treasure our discussions, and even the five hours we spent at the Galleria searching for the perfect prom dress.

Are you writing down the most important activity you can do in each of your roles? If not, you may be missing some important personal activities because you are consumed by your billable work. That is a recipe for frustration and burnout.

Give this approach a try.