If you’ve never read Cal Newport’s book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, I highly recommend you take the time to do so. Newport defines “deep work” as “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit.” That’s a fancy way of saying focused work. Work done with intense concentration, without distraction.
Deep Work versus Shallow Work
In running a law firm, you’ll definitely encounter a lot of tasks that don’t require a lot of concentration—things like data entry, checking emails, paying bills, etc. We call these sorts of tasks shallow work because they cost us more in time than in brain power, and as your firm grows, you’ll be hiring staff members to help you keep the shallow work at bay. But if you want your firm to become wildly successful, you’ll have other things to do—things like strategizing, planning and goal setting which require your full, undivided attention and maximum brain power. Here’s where deep work comes in.
Think of it this way: Shallow work helps you run your law firm, while deep work helps you grow it. If you truly want your firm to grow, then, you’ll need to set aside a certain number of hours each week for deep work. Close your email app. Pull yourself away from social media. Have your receptionist hold all your calls. Lock your office. Hang a “do not disturb” sign on the door, if necessary. It’s time to concentrate.
What to Do During Your “Deep Work” Hours
Now that you’ve set aside time for deep work, how can you make the most of that undistracted time? Some growth-building ideas:
· Develop a solid marketing strategy. How will you attract more clients? Which outlets make the most sense (e.g., email, mailers, advertising)? How will you guide leads through your sales funnel?
· Come up with ways to innovate and add value. What can your law firm offer clients that no other firm in town can offer? What do you do better than anyone else? What can you do to convert happy clients into clients for life?
· Set and review goals. Where do you see your law firm in one year? In two years? In ten? Are you on track to reach your goals for this year? If not, what can you do?
· Work on establishing authority in your field. Take time to create educational content. Develop a webinar or workshop. Write a book.
· Spend quality time on your more difficult cases. (You are an attorney, after all.)
You may have other creative ideas of what to do with your “deep work” time. The key here is to set the time aside and allocate that time to the tasks that require the most of your brain power. Guard that time each week, militantly, if necessary. Deep work is what makes your law firm successful, and without it, you’ll never reach your full potential.