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Doing less can actually make you more productive.

Less is more is our mantra for 2020. In this weeks Lawyering Outside the Lines we discuss how less really is more, and how to actually make that happen in your life! Watch this week’s video below, and check out our tips in the recap below.

Our mantra for this year: Less Is More.

Our mantra for this year is “less is more.” It’s already been great because every time we get wound up and start going “oh no, we have to tackle all of these things” one of us will turn to the other and go “Nope. Less is more.” If you’re like us and you’re stressed or feeling overwhelmed, it can be really hard to even know where to start. Especially coming back from the holiday break! So that’s why we are talking about this idea today.

When you simplify your tasks and organize your responsibilities, there’s less mess and more productivity.

We’re doing this right now at MVL. Here are some of the steps we are taking to follow our mantra and simplify things:

  • Paring down our technology
  • Focusing on our systems and processes
  • Simplifying our services
  • Restructuring internally 

Let’s focus on what really matters.

When we say do less, we don’t mean be lazy. What we’re really talking about is focusing. We talk to a lot of attorneys and there’s a lot of excitement around new things, especially in the alternative services area, there’s a big shiny thing over here and you want to be the first one in…and that’s not always the best thing. When your attention is spread over too many things it really is counterproductive. Overloading your plate and trying to do too many things too quickly is going to overwhelm you, drawing your attention in too many different directions and slowing you down. You start, then get distracted, then start again, and it takes you longer to complete all the things (if you’re actually even getting TO the things).

Get a strategy in place.

If you have a to-do list of 50 items it is just going to make you want to stick your head in the sand. Instead, prioritize them, break them into steps, and manage them one at a time. Here are some ways that work for us:

  • Start with small things that you can knock out quickly. We often put these small tasks off because they are boring or unpleasant. If you can get it done in 3 minutes or less? Just do it.
  • Next, bigger tasks that you don’t want to do. The things we don’t want to do start moving down our list, and we end up procrastinating. Put those at the top of your list and not only will you go ahead and get them done, you’ll have an added sense of relief because the things you enjoy less are now are out of your way!
  • Organize your list by day. What has to get done today? Maybe 50 things really do have to get done this week, but you can focus first on what has to happen today. Then you can bring your attention and your best self to what really needs it.

Set a goal of 5 tasks a day

Your to-do list is never going to end; you’re always going to have some things lett on it at the end of the day. This can make you feel like a failure, or like you’re never going to get it all done. Then you can carry that feeling into the next day – which makes it even harder to face that list. And, of course, things are going to get added all the time.

  • Pick a number of tasks you want to accomplish that day. It doesn’t have to be 5, but it doesn’t need to be a large number either. You can decide the whole week’s task lists in advance, or pick 5 first thing in each morning.
  • Keep your task list separate from your big to-do list. If you keep your to-do list on your phone, maybe keep the daily task list on a notepad. The places don’t matter as much as keeping them separate. That way you can complete your daily list and you’re done. Mark those things off your big to-do list later.
  • Start with the most important task first. What’s the most important? It could be paying your bills, or responding to a client who’s been waiting. You have to decide for yourself, but tackle that one first.
  • Complete each task fully before moving along. Focus on one task and you’ll get it done better and faster. Try turning off all your notifications if your phone or computer is constantly distracting you.
  •  It’s more than you think. Just 5 things a day doesn’t seem like too much, but if you did that every day – that’s 25 things you handled this week! And that 50 item to-do list may keep growing but that’s fine because you are consistently knocking out those 25 tasks.

Now. If you’re doing those 5 tasks and your to-do list is still growing and outpacing you, you should consider outsourcing some of your work. We outsource a lot of things at MVL and it is so good for our mental health. It’s better to have people who are good at those things do those things, and for us to do the tasks that are actually necessary for us to do. Take a look and ask yourself: where is your time best spent?

Also, really important to give yourself some grace. If you need to roll a task over to the next day – do it. Start fresh with a list of 6 the next day, and go forth and conquer!

Don’t multitask

Going back and forth between tasks is very counterproductive. You lose your focus. Our culture tends to praise multitasking. But research shows that multitasking doesn’t work. Focusing on one thing at a time brings less stress for you and results in a better work product for your client.

Here’s our advice: DO LESS. In 2020 we intend to do less, and do better: better work for our clients, better lives for ourselves. Cheers to Less is More!