Rainmaking Recommendation #255: You Still Have Time!

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It’s the first day of September. 

Let me repeat that in case you missed it –  IT. IS. THE. FIRST. DAY. OF. SEPTEMBER!

I don’t know about you, but this year seems to be flying by faster than most.  I am not sure if it is the fact that we are still dealing with a pandemic or if, as you get older, the days seem to evaporate, but I want to remind you that there are four months left to this year.  You still have time to make this your best year in terms of business development, but you will have to do the work.

I have discovered from working with lawyers in midsize, distributed, and big law firms for almost 20 years that nearly every one of them has used busyness as an excuse for not doing the things they need to do to become the Rainmaker they claim they would like to be.  I do call it an excuse and not a reason because every person on the planet has 24 hours in a day.  That’s 1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds.  I cannot give you more, and only you can take away the productive time to make it less.  

I’ve written about this before, but I think it bears repeating:  You have the exact same amount of time as Richard Branson, who owns about 400 companies under the Virgin umbrella but still manages to take time off to go to his private island – Necker Island; you have the exact same amount of time as Jeff Bezos, who owns 15 of the largest companies in the world – including, of course, Amazon and Whole Foods; and you have the exact same amount of time that the Rainmaker you look to in the firm. So why is s/he able to create more business and you are not?

It is time to take control of your schedule.  Now, I know that many lawyers do not feel like they can control their time, particularly litigators.  But you can, and you can be flexible. 

Why not try an experiment:

Part I:

Take one week and record all of your activities from the time you awaken to the time you go to sleep.  You are not allowed to make any judgments about this week.  Start on a Monday and continue through Saturday.  You are just living the week exactly the way you would live it had you not been recording it.  I suggest you print out seven daily pages from your calendar and then fill it in.    

Start with making sure that your appointments are all listed for the week, and then document your life. 

You need to record everything – for example, make sure you note when you went to the internet to do some research for your client or matter and then got “link lost” – clicking link after link until you lose track of time (which, by the way, is one of my worst habits as an information junkie).  Record the amount of time you spent on social media.  Record the amount of time you spent chatting with a co-worker (whether in person or not).  Record the amount of time it took you to write that brief, memo, or any other document.  Record the amount of time it takes waiting for something.  Record the amount of time you spent exercising, cooking, eating, going to the store, cleaning, streaming TV, watching sports, reading a book, or anything else you did. 

On Sunday of the week you spent logging everything you did, take some time to go through all you recorded and determine where you are spending most of your “productive” time.  You do not have to include bathroom breaks, which one of my clients hilariously did – unless you are the type who brings their smartphone into the bathroom – which I do not suggest  (Ewwww).  You are entitled to relaxation time, but if you have time to binge the entire season of Clickbait on Netflix, you are genuinely using time that you could use more effectively.

Part II

Also, on that Sunday, take time to write out a complete task list of everything you need to get done.  It doesn’t matter whether it is due tomorrow or in a few months, make a master list broken down into various categories.  You can create any categories you would like, but I suggest:

  • Clients (use client name(s))
  • Home Tasks – this would include going food shopping, any honey-do tasks, etc.
  • Family
  • Personal – like doctor’s appointments
  • Fitness
  • Social – going out with or speaking with friends
  • Business Development
  • Administrative
  • Substantive Work

Then, determine which tasks need to get done, and when they need to be accomplished, and put them on your calendar as an appointment.  If, for example, it takes you a few hours to write a brief, then schedule the amount of time you are planning to spend upon it in your calendar. Finally, it would help to organize all of your appointments and tasks for the week by making them into specific appointments. For example, make spending time with friends and family an appointment.  Make running your errands an appointment.  You are getting the idea.  You are scheduling every minute of your time.  Then live by this calendar.

And, of course, you should schedule at least 15 minutes daily (or more) to do some business development activities. 

While this doesn’t seem like it would allow for creativity or spontaneity, as Ali Luke wrote on the  Time Management Ninja website, this is not the case.

Rainmaking is about doing the tasks and techniques that will allow you to become known as the go-to authority in your field and create the relationships that will lead to new referral sources, clients, and client matters.  You have to find the time in your schedule to allow you to do this. 

I do want to leave you with this allegory (I have written about in the past) by Marc Levy, from If Only It Were True that I have written about  before; it is a bit lengthy but worth the read:

“Imagine there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course?

Each of us has such a bank, its name is time. Every morning, it credits you 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off at a lost, whatever of this you failed to invest to a good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no over draft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no drawing against “tomorrow”. You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and health. The clock is running. Make the most of today.”


  • September is the last month that I am offering complimentary Rainmaking Training sessions this year. If you are a lawyer in a Midsize, Virtual, or BigLaw firm with three or more years of practice under your belt, then take advantage of this offer – it may not ever be offered again (but certainly not in 2021).  So if you are an associate who is looking to become a partner, or a partner looking to become a Rainmaker, or a Rainmaker looking to find new ways to make it rain, use this link to make your appointment:  https://bit.ly/the-rain-maker      
  • If you are a law firm leader and would like to discuss bringing a virtual training program or a Rainmaking Webinar (with Ethics CLEs), email me.

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