Ever feel like there's not enough time?
You're not imagining things. Time scarcity is real.
We have more options than ever for entertainment and people are paid a pretty penny to grab our attention.
Plus, you’re a lawyer, so your plate is already full.
There’s help though.
There's a phenomenon I've noticed that can help you release the pressures during the week and help you overcome the feeling of time scarcity.
When we stop thinking about time, we feel like we have more of it.
But how do you stop thinking about time?
I don’t mean stopping completely.
That’d be like stopping thinking about food.
We have to eat to live, my friend.
What I mean is rethinking when and how you think about time, so you can overcome time scarcity.
I’ve figured out 4 things I needed to do and think about differently to overcome time scarcity and feel like I had more time (and actually have more of it). I'm sharing them with you.
You can learn all about them in this week’s episode of Be a Better Lawyer Podcast.
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There’s an interesting phenomenon I've noticed.
The less we think about time, the more of it we feel like we have.
Obviously we don’t have more of it. We have 24 hours in the day whether we think about it or not.
I realized recently that I don’t think about time nearly as much as I used to, and I feel a lot less stress and anxiety because of it.
But how do you stop thinking about time?
Before I share what’s worked for me, I want to invite you to download the Busy Lawyer’s Guide to get at least five hours back weekly. Having a system is going to be one of the 4 pieces that I talk about today, and this guide walks you step by step through the system that has worked for me. You can download it at https://dinacataldo.com/busylawyer
You’ll definitely want to get not only the system but the quick and dirty time saving tips I include in the guide.
So this what got me thinking about how to stop thinking about time.
I was feeding my dog and cat the other morning, and in between their meows and whines, I noticed that my brain went to, “Am I going to have enough time to go on a nice walk today? To make sure I’m sitting at my desk at 8 o’clock?
Whenever we ask a question to ourselves, we want to turn it into a sentence. That’ll tell us what we’re thinking.
In that moment my brain was thinking, “I don’t know if I’ll have enough time to do what I want to do.”
When I think that thought, I get anxious. I noticed it immediately, and the only reason I did is because I’ve been practicing this for years. It’s not as if you’re expected to learn this overnight and notice this immediately, but it’s something to be aware of in how we create our environment and how we create our experience of life.
I slowed down my thought process, and I recognized what I did to take myself out of time scarcity so quickly. To literally stop thinking about time.
There were four pieces to the puzzle.
Before I lay out the four pieces, I want to put you on notice.
Like any mind management technique, this requires consistency and repetition.
Beating yourself up for not doing these four things consistently will not help you do them consistently.
Be kind to yourself.
That’s the hardest skill to teach and to learn.
It’s amazing how hard we are on ourselves.
This is not the place to be hard on yourself.
Beating yourself up will not help you be better at this.
Perfection at time management does not exist.
I’m going to tell you the four pieces of the puzzle, then I’m going to break down how I see these show up for my clients and other lawyers.
If thinking about time less means we feel like we have more time, then how do we think about time less?
In order to think about time less, we must:
Notice when we are thinking about time.
If you’re anything like I was, you may think about time all the time.
When someone cut me off while I was driving to work. I’d feel stress because one I’d make what they did mean that they were respecting me and two that it was somehow going to make me late.
When I had files in my inbox and looked at them. I’d feel anxious because I’d make them mean that I didn’t have enough time to get them all done.
When someone came into my office to ask a question. I’d feel annoyed because I made them asking a question mean they were wasting my time.
Start paying attention, and you’ll probably see it everywhere.
Create a system for ourselves that delegates thinking about time
Lawyers will tell me that they wish they just had an assistant to manage their calendar, and then they’d just tell them what to do. That’s exactly what having a calendar is. It’s delegating the work.
In the Busy Lawyer’s Guide I teach you to set one hour aside at the beginning of the week to do the planning and problem-solving for time management. Then you’ve decided you were going to think about time for that one hour intentionally.
The calendar doesn’t do the work. It’s the receptacle. It’s like your brain. You’ve put everything on your calendar, so you don’t need to think about it. Maybe other things pop up. That’s okay because when you have piece 3 and 4 to this puzzle, you can handle anything with grace.
Building self trust. If you have something on the calendar you’ve got to trust yourself that you’re putting exactly what needs to get done and what doesn’t need to get done doesn’t get placed on the calendar. You’re not overpacking it. You’re not killing yourself. You’re making time to prioritize your health and well-being
Trust requires building a relationship with yourself. You do what you say and you say what you do. Imagine if your partner skipped your date night to work? How would you feel? You’d probably feel unimportant. You’d be disappointed. You’d be upset with them.
Now imagine you put going to the gym on your calendar and you don’t go. There’s a part of you that feels unimportant and disappointed.
To heal that relationship you need the next piece.
Compassion. When we have compassion for ourselves we aren’t letting ourselves off the hook. We’re actualizing healing the self-trust we may have broken over the years. Sometimes we make mistakes or things take longer than we anticipated. Instead of beating yourself up and telling yourself that you should have known or this will never work, remind yourself that you’re a human. Sometimes you won’t get to have the long lux bubble bath you put on your calendar, and instead you make a 10 minute bubble bath. It’s okay. You’re doing the best you can.
Sometimes you’ll make mistakes estimating how long a project will take or forget to put something on your calendar. The key is not to make it mean anything about you or your abilities to create or follow through on your calendar.
You acknowledge it. Then you move on and tweak your calendar as needed.
When we start making our thoughts mean something about us and our capabilities, that’s where we create the suffering.
I talk to lawyers who wake up at 2am thinking about everything on their to-do list. They go over and over it in their mind creating panic, and they’re exhausted. Of course they’re exhausted. They’ve spent a lot of their brainpower thinking about something without taking action on it. It’s like being in a sports car and putting your foot on the gas but then having another foot on the brake. You’re expending a lot of gas and burning the brakes without any purpose. You’re not getting anywhere.
If you’re using your calendar as your assistant to delegate this brain work that helps. But it doesn’t do the work alone. You still have mind management to do. Notice, breath. Keep refocusing your brain on something else. Trust yourself that you did the work up front to manage your time. Then have compassion of yourself throughout the week if things don’t go the way you expected them to go.
Then keep going. If you don’t follow through on your calendar the way you want to the first week, don’t beat yourself up. Don’t make it mean that your calendar isn’t working or that you can’t use a calendar, or that you can’t figure it out. When you do that, you deprive yourself of your power to change things. You look outside yourself for an answer instead of looking inside and figuring out how to make this work of you.
For example, in the Busy Lawyer’s Guide I walk through a process, but you won’t know if that works for you until you start working it. Then you get to tweak it to make it your own, but you won’t know what you want tweaked until you start putting it into practice.
That’s why I offer up a 90 day challenge inside the Guide because it takes 90 days to work through creating the system that works for you. You try making your calendar Sunday night, but your partner likes to snuggle Sunday nights, so then you decide Monday mornings before you get to the office works better for you. You have to try things and implement. There’s no such thing as failure unless you don’t even try.
I talk to other lawyers who skip yoga or the gym plan after work so that they can work even more. They feel almost compelled to work. It’s not even because they have deadlines for the assignment they’re working on. It’s because they’re telling themselves that they’re “get ahead.”
Let me share with you two thoughts that released so much anxiety for me.
When I released them, I realized I’d been punishing myself for years.
Ready for them?
“I should get ahead.”
These two thoughts are poison.
When I realized that there’s just me, work, and my decisions about the priority I give work, it changed everything for me.
Time is a construct and a tool. We’re not at the effect of it. It is at the effect of us.
We can use it as a tool to help us or we can use it as a weapon against us.
One of the things I think is happening when my clients have issues with their calendar is that if they don’t do everything on their to do list, if they don’t do the calendar exactly as they wrote it down they became frustrated and think that something has gone wrong, that there’s something wrong with them and they make it mean that they’ll never going to be able to manage their time, that they’re a bad attorney, that calendars are a waste of time.
All of these are meanings that your brain is making. You might have tons of evidence that you’ve never been able to do it. I guarantee that if you and I were talking one on one that I could extract from you that you did get to do lists done, and that you did get the most important things done today. If your brain is telling you that there’s a “right” process and you haven’t found it, I’ll tell you right now that there’s not a right process. There’s the process you make right. Look for an example, then try it for 90 days making tweaks as you go and managing your mind drama along the way.
You’re going to have mind drama. If you’ve never stuck with a time management system before and you’ve been telling yourself for years that you can’t do it, of course it’s going to feel horrible.
Your brain is like a little toddler, and it’s going to run around saying all these things and throw a tantrum. It might throw around someCheerios, but you as an adult have the responsibility to reign the brain back in to rein the toddler back down and say, “Look, I know today’s been a rough day. I know we had somethings come up, and that’s okay. So we’re going to regroup, we’re going to check our what’s on our calendar tomorrow, and we’re going to drop things this week from the calendar that we don’t need to get done right now.”
We create so much suffering for ourselves by not using compassion as one of the tools. This is one of the things I work on with my clients where they’re beating themselves up b/c they’re skipping the gym. Sometimes they’ll tell me I was really good, I didn’t beat myself up.
But I’ll hear their words and know they’re still subtly judging themselves. They’ll say something like “I should have gone to the gym yesterday,” but I decided to stay at the office, and I’m okay with that.
Any time you say should, you’re judging yourself.
Really what they’re saying is, I know I should have gone, but I’m going to wallpaper over the negative emotion I’m feeling — the guilt I’m feeling — about not going and say, “It’s okay.”
In episode 214 I talk about feeling horrible. That’s when feeling horrible needs to happen. Feel the guilt. DOn’t beat yourself up for not going, but don’t deny that you feel guilty for not going. When you notice you feel guilty, then you have an opportunity to use the compassion piece and have a conversation with yourself. “Hey. I’m sorry I didn’t go to the gym. I know I promised you I’d do that. I’m trying.” We make promises with ourself, break them, then we sever the self-trust. We want to build our self-trust, so we can accomplish big things and follow through on our calendar.
If you want help with managing your mind around time, book a call with me.
You can book a call at https://dinacataldo.com/strategysession
You don’t have to feel anxious around how much time you have. You can get so much more accomplished when you learn how to manage the mind drama and go after your goals feeling inspired instead of exhausted. I can help you create that for yourself.
I hope you have a great rest of your week and I’ll talk to you soon