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Last week, we talked about a few things you can do right now, while you’re making steady progress toward getting unstuck.

As promised, today, let’s dig into four more:

1. Create More Time

Yes, this is possible, if you increase your productivity and effectiveness.  You’ve probably read a few thousand articles about productivity, but it’s really tough to implement those tips when you spend your day running that obstacle course race we talked about.  But there really are ways to work faster, better, and smarter so that you create more time and less burnout.  We could spend lots of time talking about exact tips and strategies you can use (and we can if you would like some help with this), but for now just try to find two or three ways that you can work more efficiently, whether that’s scheduling your whole day, delegating more, or something else that works for you.

Now let’s be realistic, the billable hour model is not necessarily on our side when it comes to productivity and saving time.  Keep in mind though that sometimes you can bill just as many hours but spend less time in the office.  (No, really, you can.)  We tend to lose too much time to non-billable hours, whether we just spend too much time on non-billable things, or we lose too much time switching from one billable project to the next.  In addition, some people are more effective with their time and have the ability to change their billable hour rate to reflect their value.

(Are you thinking: that’s nice in theory but can you talk to me about concrete, realistic ways to increase my productivity while living this hectic lawyer life?)

2. Get Some Separation 

And make it long enough that you feel it.  You know those days when you run the race, then leave your office, but your brain is still on the race obstacles and your thumb is still scrolling your work email, then you wake up the next morning and dive back in, feeling like you never really left?  (Are you thinking, yeah, I call that everyday?)

Yep, been there, no good.  One good way to stay stuck is to never give yourself space to think or plan, to get any perspective, or consider what you might want to change.  It’s like obliviously swimming in the ocean, thinking you’re still along the beach, then looking up to realize you’ve been pulled out to sea.  It’s really hard to get back.  Find a way to disconnect for long enough that you feel separated.  Maybe that means setting email limits for yourself, meditating or exercising regularly, disconnecting during vacation or over the weekend, going away for the weekend once a month, working from a different office if that’s an option, or taking a work-free lunch or walk everyday, but it is important to find brain-break that works for you.

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You know that you’re feeling stuck.  You also know three steps that you can take to start moving forward.

But things aren’t going to magically change all at once – if they could, you wouldn’t feel so stuck in the first place.  Change can take time, even when you’re consistently moving forward toward a goal, so, what do you do in the meantime?  You don’t need to feel trapped and unhappy until you reach your goal.  Instead, there are many things you can do to make that in-between-time better.

Let’s talk about one of those things today to get you started, and we’ll dig into a few more next week.  For now:

Find changes you can make right now to bring yourself closer to the way you ultimately want to live when you’re unstuck.  

For example, if you’re working toward a less stressful job or a work schedule where you have more free time, carve out pieces of free time now.  Go for a quick walk at lunch, go into work a half hour later, or commit to leaving work by a certain time.

Easier said than done, right?  You know these are the things you will skip when you are busy, but keep reminding yourself that they are also the things that will give you back energy and productivity, making up for the seemingly-lost time.  If your goal is something else, like dialing up your marketing efforts to build your book of business, carve out and schedule time (actually put in on your calendar and make sure your assistant knows you are busy) at a time when you know you are less likely to get interrupted and derailed.

The good news is there are things you can do to trick yourself into really doing these things.

For example, when it comes to work and time, we tend to be like goldfish that grow to the size of our containers.  In other words, if you have 3 hours to get something done, it will take you three hours.  Give yourself only 2 1/2 though, and you’ll fit it into that smaller container instead.  So, how can you shrink your container?  Let’s say you really want to start leaving work by 6pm.  Make plans with a friend for 6:15 near your work.  Go for a walk with someone during the day, or set a quick coffee meeting.

Find a way to make yourself accountable, or to reward yourself, so that it’s not so easy to skip.  I have a friend who actually set up a little reward chart (think elementary school) in her office with a colleague, and they each literally give themselves a little gold star whenever they leave on time, and it’s working – their work is still getting done, but they’re leaving on time to spend more time with family and friends.

Another great way to trick yourself is to grab some time in the morning.  As soon as you turn on email or step foot in the office, it feels like stepping into an obstacle course race.  You run as quickly as possible from one task to the next, being pulled in different directions, putting out a fire here, returning an urgent phone call there, sometimes never setting out to accomplish what you thought you would at the beginning of the day.  You blink and the day has gone by.  We talked about shrinking your container by finding a way to leave earlier while still getting the same amount done, but you can also shrink the container from the other side and go in a little later.

Plus, if you make good use of that extra time, you’ll feel even better.  For example, wake up, get ready, and leave the house at the same time you usually would, but instead of turning your email on right away or heading right into the office, head to a coffee shop nearby and spend some time doing something you enjoy or something that brings you closer to your goal.  Work on a hobby or side project, start doing the work we discussed to get yourself unstuck.

You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish over a short period with a small amount of time, when you make it a regular daily or weekly habit and set clear goals on how you will use that time.  (I did, and now Women Lawyers News exists!)  The small, consistent progress will also make you feel energized and keep you moving forward.  Plus, if you’re a morning person, you’ll be using your freshest, most efficient time for yourself instead of someone else.

(Face time issues at work?  Get up a little earlier so you can do this first, then still get to the office on time, or pick a historically slow time during your day to run out for a half hour or so in the middle of the day.)

If you’re feeling more committed to getting unstuck, a little more optimistic, or excited to keep digging into this topic, take literally one second to CLICK RIGHT HERE so I know that you want to hear more on this topic.

Here’s to the better, more peaceful middle ground ahead as you make your way to where you want to be.  All the best, you got this!

Keep it going – check out our next post in this series for four more things you can do right now.

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