Is running your law firm overwhelming? 4 proven ways to take control (and be happy)

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers. Episode three

Happy lawyers and happy customers are interconnected, but it’s challenging to create a great customer experience and grow your firm if you feel like you never have any time.

So today we’re focusing on you and how you can use my proven tools to end the chaos and give your happy levels a long term boost.

Why are boutique law firm owners unhappy?

Usually, you tell me you’re overworked and overwhelmed.

Your business happens to you.

You don’t run your business.

As a boutique law firm owner, you wear lots of hats – if not all of them. The CEO, the legal professional and the business developer. Sometimes you’re the IT support and dishwasher.

It’s just so much work, and soon you’re in a “busyness” rut, reacting to everything that happens each day rather than piloting your business and working on it. Your great plans fall to the side because you’re constantly dealing with “the now” instead of running your law firm like the pro you are.

Sound familiar?

Let’s look at how you can create some time and space to help you move from reacting to being proactive.

These four tools have been invaluable in my business, and I hope they help you too. They’re not rocket science, but they’ve been pivotal in being able to work on my business instead of head over heels in my business.

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers

 Every week on Instagram you can join my Live session for law firm owners. Get practical and actionable information to help grow your law firm and be a happy lawyer. I’m here to help you take your legal business to the next level, with confidence and ease.

 You can catch a replay of Episode three here:

Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: No time to think big? 4 tools for boutique law firm owners

Quarterly planning

 OK, it’s not fancy or innovative. But the keyword here is “quarterly”.

 I’m a planner and like organizing. But it didn’t take long for me to get lost in the needs of the now.  The daily, weekly and monthly plans I was making were too small to reach the big goals I had made for myself. I was stuck.

 It didn’t help when I succumbed to shiny object syndrome and jumped on each idea or opportunity without critical thinking.

 Like you, I had big dreams and an ambitious annual goal but had no idea how to get there with my daily, weekly and monthly plans. And as soon as I got a new idea or got new advice, I crammed it into my full calendar.

 Then I found the magic of quarterly planning and it was a game-changer.

Quarterly planning in action

 Break down your annual goals into quarterly goals outlining what needs to happen in each quarter to reach your annual goal. And then, for that quarter you focus on those goals.

 If you get new ideas during the quarter, you postpone their evaluation to the next planning session. Then you’re able to decide whether they fit your overall plan or not.

Quarterly planning brings a strategic level to your business. It’s long enough to give you a broader look at various areas of your business, but short enough to keep you agile to make changes as necessary.

Highly recommend this. Give it a go.

Prioritizing 3+3

 The first tool is planning, and the rest are about time management and scheduling.

 This is how you fit your tasks into your great quarterly and annual plan.

 Not sure about you, but I always overestimate the number of achievable tasks in a day or week. And I didn’t leave space for unexpected events so the “to-do” list grew out of control and I worked on tasks without any strategy. I just wanted them done.  I started the easy ones first and often left myself no time for the meaty tasks that would impact my business.

 It wasn’t great.

 So I began a simple prioritizing system called 3+3 to manage the task fatigue.

3+3 in action

Weekly 3

Simply choose and list the top 3 things you need to get done during the week. This selection is based on the monthly or quarterly goals you have set for yourself.

Daily 3

 And then list the top 3 things you must do on each working day.

I know that 3 things are not much compared to the size of your to-do list. But it’s part of the charm of this tool. You must be crystal clear on what you’re supposed to be doing and then follow through.

This also means that not all the things get done and it forces you to say no to things that don’t fit your plans.

There are two big advantages to this tool:

  • If you get sidetracked during the day or the week, you always go back to the list and refocus your attention on the 3+3.
  • When you get your three things done every day and every week, it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Crossing things off your list shows you you’re getting closer to your goals.

Time blocking

Time blocking means blocking time in your schedule to do the 3+3.

Rather than simply list the 3+3 tasks for each day or week, you decide beforehand the time you’re going to do them and estimate how much time each task will take.

This quickly shows you if you have enough time (allowing for unexpected hiccups). If you see you’ve been ambitious with your time, rethink what’s important and what’s not. (And be kind to yourself. You’re a human, not a superhero.)

 A long list of tasks without time blocked to do them is just a list.

Google calendar is a great way to block your time, but any calendar or planner you’re using is great.  I like to use different colours for client workshops, content creation, business development and team meetings. I can see at a glance whether I’ve got the right balance between strategy and administration.

Start gently, blocking time to focus on your 3+3 and in time you’ll see what is eating your time.  Then reflect and adjust when you respond to “the now”. Does it really need to be right now or any time of the day? Or, could it wait until 2 pm each day – for two hours?

This is the way you start moving from overwhelm to flow.


Batching in practice means that you focus on one similar group of tasks at a time, for a longer period instead of jumping around from unrelated tasks every hour or so. Bundle the similar work in a batch and move to another batch of tasks after completion.

 Batching is an antidote to multitasking.

 Our brains are not well suited for changing gears every five minutes. It takes time to gather your thoughts for each task and it’s not productive.

I felt like I got nothing done when my days were split into dozens of 15-30 minute tasks. Just when I started to feel on track, I was already supposed to be doing something else.

Batching in action

My way of batching is very simple.

 When planning my week, I look at the to-do list and schedule them in batches. For example, I try to clear up one full day or at least half a day to create course content and all the materials.

Instead of taking one hour here and there to work on them I batch all of them into a task and work on them during that time. And I use the same tool to bundle all the boring admin work together.

 My most efficient hours are mornings, so this tool has allowed me to batch creative work for mornings and then focus on other work in the afternoons.

Could these tools work for you?

 They will allow you to create more time and space to think big and work on your business to take it to the next level.  I’d love to hear if they help.

Want to hear more about happy lawyers and happy customers? Stay tuned

 In the coming Live episodes, you can catch more actionable tips on building your law firm and finding happiness as a boutique law firm owner. 

 Want to join me? Every Wednesday at 8 am ET you can find me at @lawyersdesignschool on Instagram, where you can ask any questions you have.

 If you want to chat more, please drop me an email at [email protected]. While you’re here, take a peek at the Lawyers Design School and discover other ways to enhance your customer experience, separate yourself from a sea of the same and grow a thriving legal business.

 Catch the replay: Coffee with Hannele Korhonen: Happy customers and happy lawyers

 Watch all the Happy customer and happy lawyers episodes.

Are you ready to grow your business?