Rainmaking Recommendation # 185: Parkinson’s Law and Rainmaking

Original UK First Edition book cover illustrated by
Osbort Lancaster and published on Wikipedia

There is a “law”, really an old adage, you may have heard of called Parkinson’s Law.  This proverb says “work expands so as to fill the time allotted for its completion.”    

What this means is that you will get the work done only as fast as needed to beat the deadline. In the case of procrastinators, if you only have a day till the deadline, then you will get the work done on that day – it may not be spectacular work, but it’s done. 

Why am I bringing this up in the context of lawyer business development? Because one of the most often heard excuses I hear as a Rainmaking Trainer and Coach is “I don’t have the time to do business development.”  And, time and time again, I have said that that excuse it total hogwash.  I have done the math and proven that you can have up to 35 hours per week to do whatever you wish and that some of that time should be spent on business development and marketing activities.   

First, I have to be honest and say, I struggle with this myself.  When I was growing up I was a total geek.  When the teacher assigned homework and gave us a deadline that was in the future, I went home and completed the task immediately (and then went over it a few times to make sure it was perfect).  I am not sure when it happened, I think it was when I was in high school and there were more social opportunities that I became more and more of a procrastinator. 

Now that I own my own business, and am not practicing law, I have very few actual deadlines I have to meet and procrastinate on tasks that I know I need to do to grow my book of business.  At times, this procrastination has hurt my business and health. 

This means that if I want to get anything accomplished, I now put what amounts to arbitrary deadlines on the goals I want to accomplish. For example, and this is the first time I am putting this in writing (which also leads to having accountability from you – the attorneys who read this), that I am going to write the book I have wanted to write for more than a decade and that I will have it completed within one year from today’s date (Holy Schnikey! Putting that in writing is scary!).

But what it also means is that I for the past year I have been scheduling myself in a brand new way.  I now have deadlines for all of the tasks I want to achieve and they are actually in my calendar. I treat them as inviolable appointments and get the job done. 

What does this mean for you and for your business development?

You need to start scheduling your business development activities. Not just the networking events that are on your calendar because you signed up for them, but the calls you are going to make, the articles and blogs you are going to write, the lunches in which you meet potential clients or referrals sources, etc. And you have to treat them as sacrosanct appointments.

If you don’t start scheduling your business development pursuits then the rest of your work “will expand to fit the time allotted for its completion” and you will be providing the excuse “I didn’t have the time.”

By the way – as a bonus tip, schedule your work as well.  Every evening before you leave the office, take the time to determine what you need and want to get done the next day and actually schedule it into your calendar.  Not as tasks, but as actually time-bound appointments.  This way, your work gets done as well (and you are not tempted by distractions).   

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