planning mindset, dina cataldo, be a better lawyer, how to be a better lawyer, how to manage your time, lawyer time management

#255: Why You’re Not Planning Your Week (and How to Start)

If you're like a lot of lawyers I talk to, you're not planning your week. You want to, but life keeps getting in the way.

Sound like you?

Then you'll want to listen in to this week's replay episode of Be a Better Lawyer Podcast.

I break down:

  • why you're not planning your week
  • what you need to know to start making a plan each week, and
  • 4 steps you can take the next time you sit down to plan to make it easier

I work with my clients to help them unlearn the habits of a lifetime and begin making new habits that will help them make their lives and law practice easier.

If you want to do the same, book a Strategy Session with me.

I'll share the framework I use with my clients to help them get results and enjoy their lives again.

Click here to book a Strategy Session.




Are you a Be a Better Lawyer Podcast ride-or-die?

Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you next week.

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Hello, how are you doing today? This podcast will be pretty short and sweet, but it's an important one for lawyers who find themselves learning all the tools but not implementing them.
Before I walk about the thought work behind planning, I want to make sure you have the structure of what it takes to successfully plan your week. I've created a PDF guide called the Busy Lawyer's Guide to Getting 5 Hours Back Each Week. You can get it at
This guide will take you step-by-step through the HOW of planning your week. That link again is
This podcast will walk you through how to think about planning, so you actually do it.
There are so many materials out there, mine included, that will share with you the secrets of planning. It's not rocket science, so why do so many of us have difficulty planning?
It all comes down with how we think about planning.
Our thoughts determine what we do and what we don't do.
Our thoughts are what make up our identity – who we are.
When I wasn't planning, when I was stressed out and overwhelmed with what I wanted to accomplish during the week, I did not identify as a planner.
I identified as a perfectionist and a people pleaser.
I didn't know that at the time. At the time, I thought I was just bad at planning or I was just bad at following through with what I said I was going to do.
None of that was true.
I simply had thoughts that didn't serve me when it came to prioritizing.
The big thing that changed for me was adopting these thoughts: I am important. What I want matters.
I started to adopt beliefs that I wanted to take better care of myself, that it was essential for me. That's who I wanted to be.
If I wanted to create a business practice as a prosecutor, take care of my health, take care of my aging parents, to do all of the things that I wanted to do, I needed to become a different person. I needed to become the kind of person who could prioritize what was most important to me in that season of my life.
I became a planner because that identity serves me in what I want to create.
I wanted to become the kind of person who plans and does what she says she'll do, so I became that.
It took identifying how I was showing up and deciding whether how I was showing up was serving me for what I wanted.
We create rules for ourselves. Sometimes we adopt rules that society has said are correct, and other times we decide there are certain rules we want to live by because they make our lives better.
Choosing to be a planner is optional. You don't have to be a planner. You don't have to be the kind of person who plans. It's totally up to you. My guess is that if you're listening to this,  you want to create something more with your life. There's something pulling at you to do something and you're not doing it, or you feel like it's going too slow. One of the things that will help you grow exponentially is adopting some of the identity thoughts around planning I just went over and releasing the thoughts that don't serve you.
We just entered a new year and everybody's thinking about, okay, well, what's going to happen this year. What are my plans? And it all comes down to ONE WEEK AT A TIME. It all comes down to Monday morning. What is the game plan this week? How are we gonna make this happen? We can have all of these long-term goals, but if we're not thinking about the tactics, it's not going to happen.
I invite you to adopt the thoughts that I have about planning because I think they're amazing thoughts.
Here are some of them:
  • Planning is just something that I do to make sure it all the most important things happen in my life in the order I want them to take place.
  • Planning is easy.
  • There's always time to plan.
  • I always make time to plan because I love how I feel when I do.
  • Planning is a no-brainer.
  • Planning is fun.
  • I get to do whatever I want when I plan it.
  • I feel like I have more free time when I plan.
  • I don't have to do it all.
  • I always make time for myself.
  • Planning is an act of love for myself and the people in my life.
Thoughts I used to have and thoughts that some clients come to me with when they start working with me are:
  • I don't have time to plan.
  • This is hard.
  • I don't want to let people down.
  • It's a waste of time to plan.
  • I can plan later.
  • I lose track of time and forget to plan.
  • I feel like I'm less free when my calendar is packed.
  • I feel claustrophobic when I look at my calendar.
It may seem evident to you that those thoughts are not helpful and won't lead to you planning.
But these thoughts may also feel true to you.
Recognize that these are just thoughts.
Calendars aren't literally claustrophobic. You're having a thought that you feel claustrophobic when you think about your calendar.
You don't lose track of time and forget to plan. You haven't decided that you are planning your week.
You aren't literally less free when you create your calendar. You are having thoughts that are causing you to ignore yourself, and you're not consciously creating free time for yourself.
I want to offer you a couple suggestions around planning that will help you begin making planning a priority in your life.
First, go back and listen to all the thoughts I have about planning and write them down. Read them slowly to yourself. Keep them handy and come back to them until you begin believing them.
Second, if you notice you have disempowering thoughts around planning, ask yourself why you want to plan. What's your reason? Is it so you can spend more time with your family? So that you can feel less stressed out about your week? What's your big why?
Third, create an empowering, loving ritual around your planning time, which means setting aside a sacrosanct hour of time, that you will not give up for anyone that this is your time when you're away from your notifications, when you are away from your telephone, when you are away from humans as best you can, right? That is what is needed to really think through the plan.  Brew a cup of coffee or tea, light a candle, play some music.
When you get started with this and the first step is making the time setting it aside, deciding that you're going to do it and committing to it 100%. Nothing is going to get in the way between you and this hour of time that you were going to use to plan your week. What you're going to do is you are going to list out all of the things that you want to accomplish this week. And when you are creating that list of things, this is where you might get stuck.
If you get stuck, I want to offer you this.
You might have thoughts about planning that come up like:
  • There's no way I'm going to get this all done this week.
  • I don't even want to look at this.
  • I'm going to let myself down.
  • I'm going to let other people down.
  • I can't do this.
Know these are thoughts. These thoughts are completely normal. What you do is have a conversation with yourself.
This is how that looks like:
“I know you're having all these thoughts that you can't do this, that this is going to be hard, that you're going to be letting yourself down, and that's okay because you know what I'm going to make this week awesome no matter what. Yes, we're going to make choices about what takes priority this week. That's how this works. We don't have to do everything this week. You know what you want. You're taking this one week at a time. You'll get done what needs to be done. We're planners, we have big plans, and this is just part of making them happen. One week at a time.”
When you start approaching planning with more kindness towards yourself, you'll begin to notice a shift in how you think about planning.
We tend to weaponize our calendars and when we don't do everything on them we shame ourselves.
I see this all the time with my clients, and working through these issues to become more productive, create more focus and overcome procrastination is a lot of the work that we do together.
If you're ready to begin thinking differently, so you can create better results in your life and your legal practice, come work with me.
The first step is scheduling a strategy session with me. You can do that by going to
Alright, I hope you have a wonderful week, and I'll talk to you soon.