Give yourself a minute (or 5) to think

Give yourself a minute (or 5) to think

Thank you to Not Your Average Law Job's friend and supporter Gimbal – Lean Practice Management Advisors for supplying this article. If you’re an entrepreneurial lawyer frustrated when things take longer or seem more difficult than they should be, the legal professionals at Gimbal can help you improve your practice’s operational efficiency.

Legal work requires deep thought and creativity, but when you have back-to-back client calls, non-stop meetings, and deliverables due in the morning, you won’t have the time or the focus you need to do your best work.
 
A jam-packed calendar means you can’t process what you’ve learned in one meeting or prepare for the next, let alone think creatively about solving a client problem or improving your practice.
 
One of the best approaches I’ve seen to the packed-calendar dilemma comes from Juliet Funt’s book, A Minute to Think. Her strategies have changed the way I use my calendar.
 
Here’s one strategy you can implement right away.

Juliet calls it the “Wedge.” It’s a short break between tasks, meetings, and activities. It could be 5 minutes, 2 minutes, or even 30 seconds. It just needs to be long enough to give you breathing space and stop you from mindlessly moving on to the next thing.

The Wedge is a small portion of white space inserted between two activities. It’s used specifically to pry apart actions or events that without it would have been connected. The Wedge buys you a moment to think, plan, or compose yourself…and, when applied as a team, it dramatically lowers stress and improves communication and cohesion.

Between beginning work and checking email, we take a wedge of white space to plan our morning. Between receiving an unnecessary meeting invite and accepting it without thinking, we take a moment to realize we’re not needed and craft a cordial decline. Between receiving and responding to feedback that makes us feel defensive, we take a little pause to reconnect with our commitment to growth and then calmly ask for more detail.

—Juliet Funt (2021) A Minute to Think. Harper Business, Kindle Edition, pages 66-67.

I encourage you to read the entire book, but even if you don’t, you can implement this simple strategy right away. Start by building wedges into the busiest parts of your day, and especially between your meetings. I’ve automated the Wedge right into my calendaring app (Calendly) by setting the system to leave 10 minutes between meetings. Whatever your system, automated or manual, try building wedges into your day. You’ll be surprised what a little white space in your calendar will do for your productivity and your mental state.

Karen (Co-founder and CEO at Gimbal)

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