Ten Things: Ten Things You Can Do in Ten Minutes (a Productivity Hack for In-House Lawyers)

I had a great time at the global CLOC meeting a couple of weeks ago in Las Vegas.  It was an impressive event.  Huge thanks to the good folks at CLM leader SpotDraft for inviting me to speak on their panel and for making 50(!) copies of my new Showing the Value of the Legal Department book available for free.  I enjoyed the two book signings we did, and I especially enjoyed meeting so many of the CLOC attendees.  I can highly recommend SpotDraft, CLOC, and the global conference for all in-house lawyers.

One question I got a lot from people I met there was “How are you able to get so much done?”  And, as usual, when someone asks me a question, I ponder it and try to answer right away (e.g., being married to the awesome “Mrs. Ten Things” helps a lot when it comes to my getting things done).  I also let questions cook inside my brain for a bit because I know there is usually more to the answer I just gave.  Sure enough, I have been thinking about it a lot over the past two weeks.  And as I sit here on AA Flight 1626 at 30,000 feet, I settled on one skill in particular that I think is truly helpful to me in terms of being able to crank out blogs, books, work, or whatever the case may be; I am really good at making use of small increments of time.  For example, if I have ten minutes before my next work call or meeting starts, I try to find something productive I can accomplish in those ten minutes, i.e., I don’t worry about the hours when there are minutes to be picked up!  As I look back on my time in-house (and now as CEO and Senior Counsel of Hilgers Graben), I see that there are lots of things that I consistently do in ten minutes that add up to a lot of progress (in Latin this is known as “getting shit done”).  Finding ways to productively use small windows of time can be incredibly valuable to you, the department, and the company.  This edition of “Ten Things” shares my list of top things in-house lawyers can get done in ten minutes:



Ten Things: How to be More Productive Every Day

As in-house counsel one of the questions you frequently ask yourself is “how am I ever going to get all of this stuff done?”  Don’t worry, you are not the only one asking that question.   In the in-house world, there is never enough time, money, resource, or people to get to everything that needs to be done.  If you’re someone who cannot live with this type of situation, then you will not be happy as an in-house attorney.  On the other hand, if you do not faint at the sight of an endless “to-do” list and a decreasing legal budget, you’ve overcome the biggest hurdle and you’re probably interested in trying to figure out ways to get more done within the hours you currently work and still leave some time for your family and yourself.  I have written about using technology to increase productivity but there are other things you can do.

First, let me say that I struggled with this problem almost every day I was in-house – especially when it came to balancing out time spent on work vs. time spent with my family.    I put a lot of thought and effort into trying different things to help me be more productive at the office so I could get myself out the door at a reasonable time every night.  I didn’t always get it right, but over the years I found a number of things that did help.  This edition of Ten Things will share some of those ideas on how to be more productive every day.