A lawyer I am coaching asked a great question.

What was the greatest return on your investment of time?

Time is Money

For me that answer is an easy one. I wrote a monthly column for Roads and Bridges magazine titled: “LAW: The Contractor’s Side” each month for almost 25 years.

I chose the title of the column purposely. I wanted to convey that I represented contractors.

Here are a couple of columns I wrote:

At the Risk of Sounding False:I wrote this column after the Enron and Worldcom cases because I knew it was more important than ever for contractors to focus on business ethics.

Traveling the Measured Mile: I wrote this column to share with contractors how they needed to prove their damages when their project was delayed by the owner.

Why was writing this column such a great return on investment and what is the lesson for you?

  • The column was one page long, so I was not writing a law review article. I spent more time searching for the best topic than writing the column about it.
  • My photo was included with the column, which made it more personal. Contractors got to know me and they were interested in learning from the column.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the magazine was read by virtually everyone in the road and bridge construction industry.

Seth Godin has written about the importance of shipping it in his blog post Unrealized projects. In the post Godin writes:

One key element of a successful artist: ship. Get it out the door. Make things happen.

So, to get the greatest return on your investment of time, write short pieces often, write them on a regular basis, include your photo and then get what you write as widely distributed as possible.



Recently I gave a presentation to lawyers on Time Management. I included ideas from this video clip.

I looked back at a blog I wrote in 2012 and decided to share it with you again.

You are certainly making time for your billable work and I hope you are making time for your family, but are you making time for client development?

If you are a regular reader, you may have read my blog: Cordell’s Top 15 Time Management Tips for Client Development. It was one of my most read posts that year.

I frequently do presentations for law firms and lawyers on making time and I thought I would share the approach I used practicing law with you here visually.

As you will see above, my approach is really pretty simple. I began years ago by asking myself, what do I want to accomplish in my career, and why is it important to me.

Once I figured out the “what” and the “why,” I wrote down actions I needed to take to accomplish my major definite purpose. That was the “how” I would accomplish it. Then, I thought about how I wanted to live my life and puruse my career. Those were my core values.

That was too big so I needed to start breaking things down to more manageable pieces. Then I decided what I wanted to accomplish each year. That was still too big, so I broke it down further to 90 days and ultimately to what I planned to do next week.

In a previous post, What Stephen Covey Taught Me, I wrote about Stephen Covey’s big rocks story. I learned from that story that I could not do everything and I had to prioritize my activities so the big rocks were done first.

My friend and colleague Cindy Pladziewicz gave me the idea of the matrix on return and investment. Lawyers I coach have found it very helpful to put their proposed actions into that matrix.

Next, I figured out both the best days of the week and the best time during those days to write articles and prepare presentations. For me that was Saturday morning and Sunday morning from 6AM to 9AM. For you it will likely be different days and different times, but you should figure out what is best for you.

Finally, I found ways to repurpose what I was creating. My billable work became an article. My article became a presentation. A collection of articles became a guide. A presentation later in my career became a webinar and so forth.

I have shared in other posts that time management is the most popular agenda item for discussion with lawyers I coach. I bet it is something most of you want to learn as well.

Recently a group I coach asked me to talk about time management at one of their quarterly meetings. I talked about attitude, motivation, and how to make time for their client development and their own career development.

Then, I put the lawyers into three groups and asked them to discuss these 10 questions:

  1. What motivates you to make time for client development?
  2. Why should you set goals?
  3. What is the most important element of effective goals?
  4. What are the most important elements of an effective business or development plan?
  5. How much non-billable time do you believe you should spend this year on your own development and on client development?
  6. How can you best spend that non-billable time?
  7. What are methods you use to make time for client development?
  8. What is the best way to hold yourself accountable?
  9. What should you be doing now on client development that will pay the greatest return over the next several years of your career?
  10. What are potential client development activities can you do each and every day?

If you have read my recent posts, you know that I did a workshop for a law firm’s associates to help them prepare their 2014 Development Plan. See: Law Firm Associates: My Thoughts on Preparing Your 2014 Plan. I learned afterward that the workshop had changed the associates planning from just submitting something the firm required to preparing something that energized them.

Several readers asked if I would be doing the planning workshop as a Webinar.  At their request, I will be conducting several worshop Webinars in December and January. I want no more than eight participants so it can be a workshop during which you can ask questions.

To get the idea on what we will cover, here is the workbook: How to Prepare an Effective Business Plan.  To prepare to work with me, I recommend taking the StrengthsFinder 2.0 survey, read Cindy Pladziewicz’s blog: Want to develop a great business plan? Play to your strengths and study the template form you will use.


You will be able to sign up as an individual, or your firm can have the program for eight lawyers. To find out the cost, dates available and have any of your questions answered, contact Joyce at jflo@cordellparvin.com.

Following up on my post What Stephen Covey Taught Me, I had an opportunity to speak with Colin O’Keefe of LXBN on the subject. In the brief interview, I explain which of his lessons I found to be most valuable and also walk through how Covey’s “7 Habits” apply lawyers and law firms.

How can you best implement Stephen Covey’s ideas in your career and life.

Stephen Covey passed away this past Monday. I learned about his death first on TV and then I read his obituary in the New York Times: Stephen R. Covey, Herald of Good Habits, Dies at 79.

Looking back now, I think my father, Coach John Wooden and Stephen Covey taught me how to have a successful career. I read his books, listened to audio and watched video of his presentations and passed them on to others. As readers I have coached know I quote him frequently to make a point.

Yesterday I read: Stephen R. Covey Taught Me Not to Be Like Him by Greg McKeown. I found it really resonated with me. I was at first struck by the title. Why would someone not want to be like Stephen Covey? Here is how McKeown answered that question:

What I learned from Stephen was not to be like him. The principle that captures my own sense is: “Follow not in the footsteps of the masters, but rather seek what they sought.”

McKeown ended his blog with this:

There are many who want to be like Stephen Covey. There are many who didn’t like the way his ideas were expressed or applied. But Stephen was a man who was in the arena trying to teach and make a difference. In this pursuit, I do aspire to be like him.

When I first read his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I marveled at the simple reminders of how I could live a purposeful life. I created a mission statement for myself. I thought about my priorities. I began to plan each week around my roles, listing my personal roles before my work roles. I began having father-daughter Saturday afternoons with my daughter Jill. We continued this practice until she graduated from high school.

As you likely remember, I recently wrote Use Stephen Covey’s Habits of Highly Effective People for Career Planning and Client Development. I listed my thoughts on practicing law and client development for each of the seven habits. His Habit 3 to “Put First Things First” made a strong impact on me. In this habit I learned to prioritize what was important to me in my life and career.

In September 2011, I wrote: When Should You Say No? In that blog I included a link to a webinar Christy Crider presented titled: At the Top: Career Success and Life Fulfillment by Using Time Wisely. Christy used materials from our coaching sessions to teach others how to spend both work and personal time based on priorities. Her webinar has been watched by 100s of lawyers and law students in the US and Canada.

In that blog I also included one of my favorite Stephen Covey quotes:

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good.”

To make his point about deciding and living your life based on your highest priorities and saying no to other things, Stephen Covey frequently told the story of the big rocks. You can watch the story in this video.


As you will see in the video, you have to put the big rocks in first. What are the big rocks in your career? What are the big rocks in your life?

Do you have a favorite Stephen Covey quote that has influenced your life and career? If so, please share it as a comment below.

Some of the lawyers who worked for me and some of the lawyers I have coached are motivated to become successful at client development. If you are are a regular reader, I feel certain you are motivated also.

I am motivated to work out. I am motivated to learn French and Spanish. I have very good answers to why I want to work out and why I want to learn French and Spanish. Clearly, my motivation is not enough. Even writing down goals is not enough. I wrote about this in January in a post: One Sure Way to Not Achieve Your Goals: Set Goals without Action Plans

But, even creating action plans may not be enough. Recently I read Peter Bregman‘s blog: Your Problem isn’t Motivation. I felt like I gained a great understanding when I read this:

Motivation is in the mind; follow-through is in the practice. Motivation is conceptual; follow-through is practical. In fact, the solution to a motivation problem is the exact opposite of the solution to a follow through problem. The mind is essential to motivation. But with follow through, it’s the mind that gets in the way.

At the end of Peter Bregman’s post he provides a list of what to do to follow through. His list is focused on working out. Take his list and apply it to client development. Share with me what you can do to follow through on your client development goals.

As you will see on Peter’s blog, he is the author of 18 Minutes. If you get a chance to read the book share how you are implementing the ideas to better manage your time.

One final note: Today at noon CDT I am doing a webinar for law firm associates on client development. If you are an associate and you want practical tips on what you can do now that will attract, retain and expand relationships with clients in the future, contact jflo@cordellparvin.com first thing this morning to learn more about the program.

I don’t know why, but early in my career I discovered that managing time wisely would be very important for me. Since that time, I have read every article and book I found to get ideas and to figure out what combination of expert ideas would work best for me. Now that I coach lawyers I am frequently called upon to share my ideas.

Here are my Top 15 Tips for making time for client development.

  1. Discover and create a list of your top priorities in your life and career. Stephen Covey said it well: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
  2. Create a written plan each year with the focus on your top priorities and the return on investment for the time invested.
  3. Break down activities on the plan into 90 days or 30 days.
  4. Create a plan for each week.
  5. Do high return on low investment activities early and often.
  6. Break down high return high investment activities into smallest activities and schedule them.
  7. Do low return and low investment activities only when you have time.
  8. Say no to low return and high investment activities.
  9. Repurpose content you have created. I took billable work and created articles and guides. I took articles and guides and created presentations.
  10. Figure out what time of day is best for you to do your client development activities. (For me it was early mornings on Saturdays and Sundays).
  11. Work with your full attention in segments. Many experts recommend 20 minutes segments. That was a good time for me. Read: The Single Best Time Management Tip Ever
  12. Delegate what someone can do better or more efficiently than you.
  13. Keep a journal of your client development activities, in part to figure out what has been the best use of your time.
  14. Make a list of client development activities you can do in 15 minutes or less.
  15. Make a list of client development activities you can do in dead time (e.g. waiting for a flight at the airport).

Several lawyers have shared with me how much they appreciated my podcast interviews with lawyers I coach. They mentioned they found ideas they could implement themselves. I have decided to post short 1-2 minute clips from those podcast interviews on Fridays.

In this clip, Patton Boggs DC partner Kevin O’Neill shares with you his new approach to planning and time management.

Kevin O'Neill.jpgKevin O’Neill Planning Feb 0311.mp3