Finding Time for Marketing: Time Management Strategies for Lawyers

For law firms, marketing and business development are non-negotiables. If you want to ensure longevity, they just have to get done. So why do we struggle so much to make time for them?

When a brief is due tomorrow, or a client is calling asking for an update, it’s so easy to put marketing on the back burner. The “it has to be done yesterday” tasks always seem to take priority, not to mention the fact that marketing doesn’t count toward your daily billable hours. If you’re like many lawyers, you’re stuck in a cycle of marketing getting pushed further down the to-do list.

You may recognize that updating your website or connecting with leads is important, but these kinds of tasks rarely become emergencies, so they continue to get put off. Not making time for marketing is a bit like having a cold that never gets bad enough to go to the doctor. Sure, you can function — but you’re not operating at your best, and there may be long-term consequences.

When compared with something like trial preparation, marketing may not seem like a priority. But, truthfully, it’s just as important as your client work. No business development means no new clients, and no new clients means no new business. High-achieving lawyers recognize this and devote a sizeable portion of their time to ensuring their firm’s success.

It’s up to you to commit to getting marketing on your calendar. To help you prioritize business development, we’ve compiled some of the best strategies for managing your time.

Use a system that works for you
There are a ton of time management and to-do list ideas out there: the Pomodoro timer, the 1-3-5 to-do list, the Getting Things Done method. It doesn’t matter what your system is as long as you use one. You need a clear idea of your top priorities for each day. When you take time to review them, you might realize that the “urgent” tasks aren’t as urgent as you thought and can be rescheduled. This frees up time for tasks that need to get done eventually but never do — like, you guessed it, marketing. Having a go-to system helps you avoid jumping from task to task without a clear plan.

Focus on one thing at a time
You may think that multitasking lets you get more done faster. Unfortunately, our brains disagree: forcing them to switch constantly between two or more tasks only means that you’ll get less done with a lower-quality result. Don’t try to squeeze in business development activities while you’re busy with other work — they deserve your full attention. The best way to get your marketing activities done is to schedule them, and only them. Try a weekly “power hour” or monthly batch day, where you shut out all distractions and work on business development goals.

Make it good enough
Business development isn’t rocket science. It doesn’t need to be complicated or perfect, so don’t act like it has to be. Just do it. If it takes you an hour to write a pretty good blog post, stop there rather than spending another hour making it perfect (which is impossible anyway). If you don’t have time to go to every networking event, network online through LinkedIn. Don’t build business development into a massive, time-sucking task. Do what you can, and stop when you can sit back and say, “good enough.”

Guard your schedule
Be greedy with your time and make no exceptions. This goes not just for business development work, but for all your work. If you need an uninterrupted hour to work on something, take it — and let coworkers and clients know you mean it. Eventually, people will learn that you mean it when you say you’re not available, and they’ll learn to work around it.

Tie it to something else
Maybe you avoid doing business development because you don’t feel confident in it, or it’s just not your cup of tea. The tasks we’re dreading often get put last on the to-do list, which we rarely get to the bottom of. But you can’t avoid marketing forever. One motivating strategy is to tie it to something you enjoy. Perhaps you can write an article over a cup of coffee at your favorite café. Or make it a rule that every time you check your email you send a quick note to a lead (this might have a double benefit of increasing your connections while forcing you to stop checking your email every 10 minutes). If all else fails, you can eat the proverbial frog and do business development first thing in the morning, so it’s done and over with.

Outsource it
Finally, one good thing about business development and marketing tasks is that they don’t require a law degree — they just take time. If you don’t have that time, perhaps someone else does. If you have the resources, and at the risk of seeming self-serving, hire a public relations and marketing firm. Have a digital firm manage your website and social media or hire a writer to draft the speech for that conference you’re speaking at. Even people within your firm might be able to help. Outsourcing is one way to take a whole lot off your plate and ensure that your business development and marketing don’t fall by the wayside.

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