How a 6-Figure Solo Works Part-Time

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Episode Description

Ever feel like your law practice is running your life instead of the other way around? In this candid episode, Lauren pulls back the curtain on how she built a 6-figure practice while only working 4 days a week.

Lauren shares her daily routine and the practical strategies she uses to fiercely protect her schedule and align her life with what really matters – being present for family, maintaining wellness, and building a business she truly loves.

You’ll get a rare behind-the-scenes look at how a successful lawyer balances it all, from scheduling priorities like uninterrupted work blocks to outsmarting the legal profession’s toxic culture of burnout. Lauren opens up about the difficult “no” muscle she had to develop, investing her limited time in what energizes her rather than just checking boxes.

Whether you want to optimize your schedule, ditch outdated billable hour expectations, or simply live more on your own terms, this transparent episode offers a refreshing blueprint for taking back control of your calendar and designing the lawyer life you really want. Pull up a chair for an honest, encouraging pep talk on making your practice fit your lifestyle – not the other way around.

Listen now!

Episode Resources


Episode Transcript 

LAUREN: [00:00:00] We should control our own time. It is one of the most critical and important things we can do for our wellbeing and for the success of our business. Welcome to a different practice. I’m your host, Lauren Lester, and I’m obsessed with all things, business, wellbeing, and optimizing the practice of law for solo and small firm lawyers.

I started my solo practice right out of law school, built it from the ground up. And now work four days a week while earning well over six figures. I’m here to share tangible concrete tips and resources for ditching the legal professions, antiquated approach, and building a law practice that optimizes growth and enjoyment.

Think of this as grabbing coffee with your work bestie mixed with all the stuff they didn’t teach you in law school about how to run a business. Pull up a seat, grab a cup, and get ready to be encouraged and challenged. This is a different practice. Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of A [00:01:00] Different Practice.

I’m so glad you’re here with me today and spending some time together. I don’t know about you, but I love a good behind the scenes look. I want to know what goes on behind the curtain. How does the production get made? And what I’m always really curious to see too is how business owners, how high performers, how folks who really just seem like they have their shit together, how they manage their days.

What are their routines look like? How do they get it all done? And because I know that we all don’t do everything all the time and that truly they aren’t getting it all done. all done. I really want to know, like, what are they prioritizing? How are they making those choices about what to focus their time on, particularly within the business itself?

Where are they finding the greatest ROI? And then how are they structuring their life so that they can show up to their business? business in the way that they want to, and then also have time for their life and be able to [00:02:00] enjoy that and not have their business run their life, but to have a life that is supported by their business.

So like, does it really require getting up at 4 a. m. every day? Please Lord, tell me that is not the answer. I ain’t going to do that. And does it require 12 hour days or can we get a lot of it done in a day? five, six, maybe even eight hours so that we have time to do all the other stuff that we want to do that makes us happy so that we can rest, so we can spend time with our friends and family, so we can go on vacation, right?

I want to know the folks who look like they’re doing that. And obviously appearances can be deceiving, but when they open up and show us behind the curtains and say, Hey, this is what my daily routine looks like. I always find a ton of value out of that. And so that’s what I wanted to share with you today in case you’re like me and want to know, you know, what does Lauren do?

How does she structure her day? How is it possible that she works part time and only four days a week and has these two businesses that [00:03:00] she’s running? I want to tell you, this is how I do it. And there’s no right answer, right? It’s going to be personal to everyone based on what you value, where you want to spend your time, and what all of the responsibilities and priorities you have in your life are.

For me, I value the freedom to choose how I spend my time. I don’t ever want to ask somebody for permission for how I spend my time. And I really value being present and active in my kids lives. I want to be there at drop off and pick up. I want to have dinner made every night for them. I want to sit down at the table and ask them about their days.

Even just today, I went to volunteer at my daughter’s school and did a reading session with her class. I want to be able to sign up for that. for those things. I want my kids to remember that I was there, that I was on all the sidelines and at all the plays and at all the school functions that I can be at.

Because for me, I’m only their mom in this kind of capacity for a short period of [00:04:00] time. And so it’s important for me to structure my time where I can be present during those activities. It’s also really important to me to have a small business that I love that’s making an impact in my community that I’m using as a platform to share with other lawyers about how they can build businesses that they love.

And so I want to pour my time into that. I also have a wonderful, amazing husband that I’m sure would love to spend some time with me as well. And I want to spend some time with him right now. I have family and friends and I want to go on vacation and I just want to read some days and just. Sit and have nobody bother me.

So how do I work all of that in? I will tell you it is messy and it is not perfect, and every day I don’t get it quite right, but I have set up my values and my priorities spaced around that at the end of the day. And especially over the last few years, this has really become underscored for me. I value living.

I value not just working until I die, [00:05:00] not just running faster and faster to chase more and more money until we fall off the cliff. And that’s the end. And the last couple of years, I’ve, I’ve had several of these moments of what, what am I doing this for? What am I busting my butt for? Like what, what is all the, And it certainly means a lot to me to be a working mom.

It means a lot to me to be a small business owner. It means a lot to me to be an entrepreneur, but that doesn’t define my life. Those things are all really important to me, but I know I’m not going to get to the end of my life and wish that I worked more for the sake of working more or earning more. I’m going to get to the end of my life and wish that I had more.

more impact, that I took more time for myself and my family, that I went to all of the soccer games, that I was at all of the birthdays and all of the celebrations, that I was able to serve more people in my community, that I was able to touch one more lawyer’s life and show them that they can build a [00:06:00] practice that they love.

That’s what I would. be remorseful about missing out on. And so when I get into those grooves, or if I just feel like I’m working to work or working to prove myself in the profession, or to look like a real legit lawyer, or to make a certain revenue goal, I certainly feel the tension because that’s not aligned with the value that is in my integrity.

And so when And so I say all of that, because it’s not easy. There’s no perfect answer. I think what’s important is keeping aligned with what you value, keeping your focus on that, knowing that like in meditation, right? Your mind will wander. There will be things that pull at you or emergencies that you have to attend to, or new shiny things that you want to get involved with.

So you will get off that path and you’ll lose focus from those core values. But being able to reset, reconnect with them, refocus on them is really what’s going to move the needle day [00:07:00] in and day out. And for me, I do that a lot through my daily routine and my habits. And that’s what I want to share with you today, just to give you a little glimpse into my life and how I have it structured.

I offer it as just another example of something to pull from. Maybe you get some ideas. Maybe you think, Hey, I’ll try that. Maybe you hear something that would just never work for you in a million years. My life may have very different elements than your life and that’s okay. What I hope is that it gives you permission to create a daily routine and a schedule that works for you.

Not what someone else is doing.

Transcripts provided by Transcription Outsourcing, LLC. That I really think it’s important for us as practitioners, especially solo and [00:08:00] small firm practitioners, where we have a lot more control and ability to control our time to actually take that control, especially of our own schedules. And be the master of them versus having your schedule dictated to you.

We should control our own time. It is one of the most critical and important things we can do for our well being and for the success of our business. And so if you’re sitting there thinking, I don’t have control of my time, it feels very out of control right now. If you are a solo or small firm attorney, I hope that you hear me when I say you do have control and that all of the things that you said yes to meant that you were saying no to something else.

And so even if today is day one of taking back that control and it’s a slow process, you do have control of your schedule and there is a huge freedom in that. And once you can set one up that really works for you, and supports your well being and your [00:09:00] business, I think you’re going to feel so much better.

One of the ways that I define success is to have full autonomy over my time. I never want to ask anybody for permission about what I do and when. If I want to take a day off, I don’t ask anyone permission. If I want to go to my kid’s school in the morning, I don’t ask anyone permission. If I want to work late at night because I’m really into the thing I’m working on and I’m jazzed about it, I I don’t want to ask anyone permission.

Now, of course, I do not say that in a vacuum. Again, I have a partner and a family that relies on me. And so I take that into consideration. And what I’m talking about here is I don’t want to ask a boss or a colleague for permission on how I spend my time. I don’t want to worry about if I block off a random Tuesday because I just need a break and it’s beautiful outside.

And I want to go spend some time at the park that I don’t feel like I’m going to have someone looking over my shoulder saying, Oh, what are you doing over there? Not working. Oh, must be slacking. I don’t want to have that [00:10:00] feeling. I want to know that I’m doing what’s right for me because it means the next day I’m going to get back and hit the ground running.

So when I wanted to make sure that I was fully taking control of my time, I had to first identify what I wanted to control it for. So basically, what were my priorities that I wanted to make sure were in place when I looked at my time? So for me, my priorities are wellness. Time with my family and time for myself.

So when I think about wellness, I have built into my schedule time for physical exercise every single day. I also make sure that I get plenty of sleep. I am not one of those folks who can run on very few hours of sleep. I think science has showed us, honestly, none of us can, um, as much as we maybe have.

Convinced ourselves that that’s the case, but I certainly need a good, solid eight hours of sleep every night. And so that’s a priority to me is to making sure I have time to do that, that I work that into my schedule. It’s also really [00:11:00] important to me in terms of my wellness. of what I’m eating. And so I like to have a lot of home cooked meals.

I don’t like to eat out a lot. It allows me to control what I’m eating to make sure that what I’m fueling my body with really makes sense for me. It’s the kind of food that I want to eat. And so I have to build in time to make dinner, right? And to make my lunch and to make my Breakfast. So I have to work that in because if I don’t consider that, but it’s really important to me to have a home cooked meal that’s really nutritious, but I have my schedule blocked out where I’m working until 6 p.

m. and then I have to get my kids and then they’re off to soccer at 630 and then we have something at seven and then they go to bed. What’s going to happen is I’m going to go and run and pick something up that’s easy and quick and fast because that’s all I have time for. So it’s really important when you think about your.

schedule and your time and how you want to take control of it is making sure that you build in all of these things so that you have the time that you need to focus on them in the way that you want. [00:12:00] So again, time with family and time for myself. I mentioned before, right, I build in time to have Presence in my kids life.

That’s not only with like their school activities, but for me, it’s time on the weekends. I block off weekends. I typically do not work. It also means that when they come home from school, I’m there and we have dinner together and we spend time together and then I get up and I get them ready for school many mornings of a week.

My husband and I share that responsibility, but I want to make sure that my kids see me for me. day in and day out, they know that I’m there and that I get to have all of those little day to day moments with them. And then for me, it’s important to have time for myself. And so how this looks in my life is that I get up a little bit earlier than my kids normally get up and I do a quick morning meditation.

I do some journaling that really sort of helps me gather my thoughts for the day, kind of clear out the junk or the trash that’s kind of swirling around in there so I can really focus. I also do therapy every other week. So I have [00:13:00] time built in my schedule for that. And then every night I like to read before going to bed.

So I want to make sure that I have 20 to 30 minutes to pick up my new favorite nonfiction book because y’all know I don’t read fiction. I’m sorry. It’s all nonfiction all the time, but I want to have time to do that. That makes me happy. It helps. Uh, uh, In a weird way, energize my brain, but also helps me go to sleep because I’m not focused on all of the million things that are running through in my mental to do list, but I want to make sure that I have time for that at night as well.

So I really believe that my business should focus on. support this lifestyle that I want. I shouldn’t have to cram my priority for wellness and my time with my family and my time with myself around my business. I shouldn’t feel like, Oh, great. I have an extra hour every day to get all that stuff done because my business takes up so much more of my day than I would want it to.

I personally do not want my business to control my life as much as I wouldn’t give [00:14:00] up being an entrepreneur for anything as much as I adore my clients. And. Love being able to have a positive impact on their lives. At the same time, I want that to be balanced against the priorities I have in my personal life.

And so one of the benefits of working for myself and for you, if you work for yourself is having that freedom to control your schedule. I don’t have a boss to dictate to what I do and when. And I think many of us are. probably got into the entrepreneurial space for that reason, right? We were tired of having a boss that barked down at us.

We wanted to be our own boss. But I think what we miss is that we often outsource control of our time or what it should look like to the culture, especially in the legal profession where the culture can be really toxic, where it’s very loud, where it has traditionally been very small c conservative, and sort of this is what it looks like to be an attorney.

Here is the box that you fit in. This is [00:15:00] what your schedule looks like. This is how many hours a week you work. This is how dedicated you should be to your job. And this is how you show us by having your phone with you constantly answering after a single ring and being in the office from sunup to sundown.

That’s very. embedded in our professional culture. So I found myself personally falling victim to that when I thought, Oh, I’m my own boss now. I can do what I want. I can have my schedule the way I want to, but I would hear sort of that outside voice. say, well, but you’re not a real lawyer unless you’re working 60, 70, 80, 90, whatever it is hours a week.

You’re not a real lawyer. If you don’t get back to your clients, the second that they reach out to you, you’re not a real lawyer. If you don’t work on the weekends, we all work on the weekends. I would hear that narrative and that would start to slip into how I was creating my schedule. We’re not a profession that is known for balance.

[00:16:00] We are known for being workaholics, and that’s not a good persona. I’m not proud of that. I’m not walking around wearing that badge of burnout as an honor as, wow, look at me. I really made it in the legal profession. I am exhausted and burnt out, but hey, look at this medal that I have. That is certainly not for me.

I’m sure it’s probably not the way many of you want to live your life either. But I also recognize that it’s really hard to do that in this profession, given the culture of the profession. So I say that because I have fallen victim to it as well. I have caught myself leaning into more of that versus more of my own personal values.

because I wanted to be accepted and felt like I belonged in this profession and how folks look at me and say, wow, that’s a lawyer over there doing a really great job. I think as long as we’re aware of that, aware of that culture [00:17:00] and knowing how it can seep in, even if we are solo or small firm attorneys who do have a lot more control over our schedules.

That awareness can help you when you do recognize, Hey, I feel a little bit guilty about taking this Friday off. And you can dig into, well, why is that? Like I don’t have a boss. Nobody’s telling me I can’t do that. Is it because of how it might be perceived in the culture? When you recognize it, it’s a lot easier to say, thanks, but no thanks.

Like I do not receive that today. That’s not the message that I want to internalize. And then be able to move on and realize that maybe the guilt that you might be feeling is not because you are not acting in alignment with your priorities, but it’s just sort of that outside noise that’s starting to seep in.

So the first step for me in getting control over my calendar so that I could create a schedule that was aligned with my values [00:18:00] and where I wanted to spend my time was. First identifying what are those values and what are those priorities that I want to make sure I carve out time for. Once I did that, I was then able to create an ideal schedule using time blocks.

When I first started this, I was getting honestly too granular. I was trying to put in like 10 to 15 minute spaces in my calendar for things like check email or do drafting during this time or return voicemails during this time. And that granularity didn’t work for me because that’s just not how our practice works.

This is work, right? They’re not that structured that every day from nine to nine 15 is the time that I’m going to check emails, because inevitably I would start that and then I would have a huge amount of emails that day, and by nine 15 I had cleared through maybe five of the 30. And so that just sort of.

Set me up to then feel like I was already behind. I had to move on to the next thing, but [00:19:00] all I could think about was that last email that I just opened, but I didn’t have time to respond to it yet. And so I wasn’t actually focused on the next thing in my block that I was supposed to be working on. Like that granularity was, was too much.

It just didn’t work for me. So what I started to do instead was use bigger blocks of time for the type of activity or focus that I was going to have during that time. So now for me, it’s blocks like gym or exercise, and then I have work blocks. I have a lunch block. I have a block to work on a different practice.

I have fun. family block. So they’re much bigger chunks of time. And in my work block, I don’t get caught up and I need to work on emails or I need to be drafting. I just look at my to do list, which is going to be prioritized. And I just work through that during that work block. block. So I created an ideal schedule using these blocks of time and then I implemented them into my calendar.

I will say that when I first did this, I had to go a few [00:20:00] weeks out because my schedule was already booked up. So I would take like maybe four to six weeks out when things were a little bit more free on my calendar. And I went ahead and put in those blocks. I put my gym block, my work block, lunch, and so on.

And then as those weeks started to come up, I would fill in meetings with clients appointments during the particular blocks that I wanted to be working. Now, of course, there’s no way to be super, super strict with this. Like life is going to happen. Things are going to pop up. You’re going to have to move things around, but the point is, is you’re going to have a default structure that you can work from.

That’s going to, again, reset your focus when things go a little bit haywire, when life pops up and your schedule gets blown up, right, the next day or the next week, you’re going to still have those blocks on your schedule to remind yourself, Oh yeah, this is my time to do this. Like I’m going to reset, get back at it and keep going.

So here’s what my general week [00:21:00] schedule looks like. So the law firm is open Monday through Thursday. On Mondays in particular, while I am working and in the office. Technically, I do not schedule any meetings that day. That is my no distractions day. That helps me because typically, uh, one, since I don’t work on Fridays and often the weekend, right, there can be a bit of emails or work that needs to be done.

It just kind of all piles up on that first day of the week. And so Monday’s having no distraction allows me to really crank through that work and feel really productive at the start of the week. So I typically. Outside of an emergency, do not schedule any meetings on Mondays. It just allows me to put my headphones on, put my head down and get through some work.

And then Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, I have all different kinds of meetings. I have meetings with clients. I have consultations. Those are days that I’ll grab coffee with folks. Those are days that I’ll do CLEs. I try and keep Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays, sort of those out and about connection with other people days.[00:22:00]

As you can imagine, because my meetings are concentrated on those three days, I don’t get as much desk work done, and so I make sure that on my to do list for those three days, it is not nearly as long or as involved as it is, say, for Mondays when I do have that time to dedicate and really focus. But I like scheduling my week that way.

It gives me a bit of diversity in terms of what I’m working on. It doesn’t make every day feel the same. also allows me to feel really productive Fridays. Like I mentioned, the law firm is closed. I do not do much law firm work on Friday. Sometimes I’ll do a little bit of admin work here and there, but really that’s my day to focus on a different practice and to do things for myself.

So I go grocery shopping. I’ll have lunch with my husband. Sometimes I’ll go take an extra long run, right? Fridays are just kind of my day. My kids are in school still. So it really gives me some extra time to myself versus a weekend, which for all of you parents out there are not typically the weekends that we remember in our twenties and college, right?

Where we could just [00:23:00] lounge out and rest and do nothing for me. Weekends aren’t quite like that anymore. And so my Friday. Fridays have sort of taken that spot. So on those work days, I usually start working around 1030 or 11. And that is because I get my kids up, I get them to school, and then I take the time in the mornings to go to the gym or to work out.

If you want to get super in the weeds with me, if you’re curious, so Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, I do strength training and Wednesday, Friday and Sunday I do cardio. And so I have that all built into my schedule. So I take the time to do that. It’s usually about half an hour to 45 minutes of exercise. And then I come home, get cleaned up, get freshened up and then jump in.

into work. So I do generally start work a little bit later in the day and then I’ll work for a bit, usually take about 30 minutes to 45 minutes for lunch. It allows me to take a little bit of a break, let my mind rest because I’ve been going for several hours at that point. And then typically, I stop all of my work days at 5 p.

m. and go [00:24:00] pick up my kids or I make dinner. I try really hard not to do any work After 5 p. m. It not only gives me the time with my family and to unwind from the day, but I find that if I don’t get that break and the next day, especially if it’s also a work day, I feel like the next day I am not as on my game as I would like to be.

I have tried that in the past where I’ve said, Oh, once the kids go to bed, I’ll do a couple more hours of work. I’ll really get ahead for tomorrow. And while it certainly helps me tick things off my to do list, I find I don’t get to sleep. as well. I don’t sleep through the night as well because my brain has just been work, work, work, work, work.

And then the next morning, I still feel kind of tired from working. And so I’m not as energized to jump back in the day. Whereas when I said, you know, I’m just going to take a clean break and stop at 5 p. m. I’m going to give myself those few hours before I go to bed to just have time with the family, decompress, read a book.

And Have a good night’s sleep and then jump back [00:25:00] into the next day. I got so much more work done and I was so much more productive by taking that break. And so I really try and stick to no work after 5 p. m. as many of the days that I can. And then that holds true for me on the weekends. I don’t check email.

I really need that break. Uh, and like I said, my weekends are not the same weekends I had back in college or pre kids, I should even say. So I am still busy doing stuff with the family. I need that mental check out from work. So I really try again, my darndest, there are certainly a handful of weekends.

I’ll do some stuff here and there, but I really check in with myself first before committing to that and say, like, why am I feeling like I need to do this on the weekends? Is this something I actually want to be doing? Maybe it’s a new project I’m jazzed about and then, you know, gung ho, I’m all for it.

But if it feels like, well, because I’m feeling some sort of outside pressure, then I really check in and see, like. Would it just be helpful to knock it out and get it done, or is there another way that I can address that pressure, maybe on [00:26:00] Monday, that would have the same outcome and not require me to work on the weekend?

So then zooming out from my kind of week to week schedule, looking at the overall year, Every year in the last two weeks of December, I take that time off one for the holidays, of course, and I just sort of want to enjoy that special time of year. But part of it also for the business is I’m looking at the year to come and planning out vacations and breaks intentionally so that I already have those blocked off in my calendar so that As that year gets going and things start getting scheduled, I don’t have to worry about squeezing those in.

I’ve already planned for them. So for me, every year for the last several years, what I’ve done is again, take those last two weeks in December as a break. I take one week in November around Thanksgiving as a time when the office is closed. I also build in one week each quarter, uh, when the law firm is closed and so.

Some quarters, what I use this for is an internal week. So I save up all of the [00:27:00] stuff. I’m like, Oh, I can’t wait to get to that. Or I need to update that template or I need to tweak my automation over here. I just don’t have time to really dig into it right now. I set those aside for one week in a quarter and kind of knock out all of that internal stuff that just makes me a bit more productive, you know, organized files, things like that.

So that I can know that I have time dedicated for it. And then some other quarters of the year, I take that week for a vacation. So I plan something with my family. And obviously this is going to align up if you have kids right with like spring break or fall break or something like that. So it’s not always the same week every quarter, but I do make sure at the beginning of the year to look and identify those weeks so that I already have them built into the calendar.

Once I had this structure set up, I went ahead and updated my availability in my calendaring software Acuity to make sure that it lined up with this structure. So again, I used to have meetings on Mondays and once I had decided, you know, I really need Monday to [00:28:00] just be kind of a head down productive day.

I went ahead and updated in Acuity that I didn’t have any availability on Monday for meetings. Same for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. While I do have meetings on those days, days. I have them in blocks that work around my schedule. So I have them in that first block in the morning when I get into the office.

And then I have a break for lunch because I want to make sure that that is always in there so I can take a break and actually eat during the day. And then I sometimes will have another block after lunch. So again, building it around that structure that I put in place for my ideal schedule. And that way I wasn’t worried that I was going to have a client.

Book something that then threw me off my ideal schedule because I had everything set up. So I kept those physical blocks of time on my calendar for probably six months or so until it really became embedded just sort of in my psyche, how my schedule worked. It became more natural. I had to practice a lot telling folks, Oh no, I’m sorry, like I don’t have any [00:29:00] availability sooner even though I would open up my calendar and Monday is wide open.

I had to get used to saying that and not having to give. Any excuse as to why I just wasn’t available. But once I strengthened that muscle, now I say it all the time. I don’t think twice about it. And until I got to that point, I kept those blocks on my schedule to remind myself, this is what I said my priority was.

This was the schedule that I wanted to put in place so that I could kill it at work. And I could kill it at home. And if I allow every single person who makes a request that’s going to push me off that schedule, do that, what’s the point in creating this schedule? At the end of the day, it sort of felt like I wasn’t keeping the promise to myself.

And above all else, that was most important.

So two notes here on having your ideal schedule set up. First is to allow for flexibility. Like I mentioned, there are some times that I need to shift off my schedule and do something that’s maybe out of the norm. Sometimes [00:30:00] I just can’t get to the gym in the morning for one reason or another. Or sometimes there is a need that I have to have a call right at 10 a.

m. Can I make those judgment calls and really assess them at the time? I don’t say yes to every single request that comes in, but sometimes it. It happens and it’s needed and that’s totally okay. I rarely, rarely have calls on Mondays or Fridays, but every once in a while it does happen. So I do allow for change to the general structure and I don’t beat myself up too much for that.

I also found that as I sort of lived in the structure as well in this kind of schedule, I would find that certain blocks weren’t. working at the time of day that I had them. So for example, I’ve recently found that going to the gym on Thursday morning just isn’t happening. There’s been several weeks now that that just hasn’t happened for one reason or another.

So I’m thinking, you know, I really should probably move that to the afternoon. Maybe I’ll shift my day up. Maybe I’ll start taking calls a little bit earlier so then I can leave work a little bit earlier and do the gym in the afternoon. So [00:31:00] allow for that flexibility. This is not meant to be a rigid schedule, but it is a meant to give you some structure.

Make sure that you can work in so that you can kind of always find your way back to it. So the second note, and maybe the more important one, once you have your ideal schedule in place is to fiercely protect it. It’s like I said, I give myself grace when things change, life happens, I have to deviate from the ideal schedule.

It’s okay. But then I quickly go back to fiercely protecting it. I don’t let those deviations be an excuse for me to abandon my ideal to sort of slip way off the tracks and never be able to find my way back. This is a muscle that I have to constantly exercise. It was a lot harder in the beginning. I will certainly admit.

Because people would often ask for consultations or client meetings at all the different times and they weren’t doing it to be disrespectful of my time. They would just say, Hey, I just, I’m not available until after I get off of work. So can we chat at five or five [00:32:00] 30? The best day for me to chat is actually going to be on Fridays.

It would happen. They would innocently tell me kind of what works best for them, but I made a pact with myself that the client just requesting it or it working best for the client wasn’t enough of a reason for me to deviate off of my determined schedule. There had to be some sort of external factor that was coming into play.

So there was some sort of deadline that was coming up, or maybe my schedule honestly had was just so crazy that I didn’t have time for 10 days to be able to have this quick call with the person. And so for me, then I would say, you know what, it’s not fair in that case to have the client wait, let me just knock out this call, even though this is not during the normal time that I would do it.

But again, that was me making the decision based on my schedule, that external factor or the deadline the client was running up to, or something that happened that was unexpected, and we had to address it really quickly, then I would make those exceptions and have the meeting outside of the normal schedule.

But outside of that, [00:33:00] I really worked hard on saying no. And saying no in the beginning was really difficult, even though the person would never push back or ask, well, why is it that you can’t meet on Monday? For me, I knew the reason, and so I would always feel guilty about it. But I practiced saying no as much as I could, and the more that I did it, the easier that it became.

But this is the one thing that I do that makes more of a difference than anything. Anything of all the time blocks of all the setting priorities, all of that is really great, but saying no is the one thing that I know works best to actually keep that structure in place. Like I said, this is a practice.

It is something I was terrible at in the beginning, I felt really uncomfortable doing. I had a really hard time. I probably gave in more times than I would like to admit, but I kept at it. And every time the opportunity showed up, I practiced saying no when it was the right thing for me to say. Someone once asked me, well, [00:34:00] but how do you say no?

Like it’s. It’s so hard. It’s really difficult, especially in our industry. We’re a service based industry. A lot of us are service minded. We want to give our clients everything. We want to make sure that they have the best possible experience. We want to help every time there’s a crisis. And so we’re always willing to say yes and to jump in.

And it really does take practice and gets easier over time. But what really helped me get better at saying no when something came up was to remember it. that every time I said yes, I was always saying no to something else. So when I said yes to that client who wanted to meet on Friday afternoon, I was ultimately saying no.

I wasn’t saying no to the client, but I was saying no to maybe. Spending some time with my partner or taking a walk at the park or working on that project that I was really looking forward to all week. So at the end of the day, you are saying no to something. [00:35:00] We just typically say no to ourselves or something that we wanted to do and somehow make that okay versus saying no to the client.

When maybe they’re asking for something during a time that just doesn’t work for us. And so when somebody explained it to me that way, that was really enlightening to say, you know what? I’m still saying no. So it’s not that it’s always so hard to say no. It just may be hard to say no to a certain person.

And I wanted to make sure that the hardest person it was for me to say no to was myself. So I wanted to choose what I’m saying yes to. And that does mean that I have to say no to some other things. This plays out for me a lot in consultations when somebody calls and they’re looking for help. And so I’m talking to them and trying to gather information about their case, and it will come out that maybe it’s a rush issue, right?

They have a deadline that they’re working up against or some sort of motion needs to be responded to ASAP. And so I think to myself, could I make this work? Sure. Do I want [00:36:00] to? No. And every time in the past that I have said, well, I can make it work. I guess I’ll, I’ll squeeze you in. And so I’ll take the case.

It always feels like I let myself down. The money was never worth the disappointment. It wasn’t worth the extra stress. It wasn’t worth giving up the time that I had planned to do something else. And so I don’t take those rush cases anymore. The same thing kind of goes for me too. Now, at this point in my practice, if the case is too complicated or too contested, Could I do it?

Sure. Have I done a million of them in the past? Absolutely. Do I want to do them? No. And so that’s a big no that I’ve been working on personally on saying a bit more, but it’s one that I know is the right answer for me. And again, it’s just that practice in saying no to cases where the client is sitting there basically with money in hand.

It’s really hard to say no to that sometimes, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to make the right decision for yourself. So the other things that I say no to are opportunities. that come up and it can be really [00:37:00] hard because oftentimes these are presented to me by colleagues or somebody that I really respect or really feels like it could potentially be a great opportunity, but I have to really take an assessment of what’s the return on investment for me.

And if the investment is my time, it’s got to have a darn big return because time in our health is something that no amount of money is ever going to get back. And so I’m really, really selective on types of opportunities. that I will work on. So I’ve had opportunities to join networking groups. I’ve had realtors reach out to me, which are also very sweet, you know, saying, let’s get coffee.

But for me and my practice and my business, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense right now. I’m sure that these work for so many people. And if you are one of those people, then absolutely go after it. Take up all of those opportunities. Just know that most likely there’s going to be another kind of opportunity.

or something that you’re going to have to say no to. So you just have to decide what works best for you. For me, the litmus test is if I feel like it’s what [00:38:00] I should do, but it’s not what I want to do, then I’m not going to do it. I think I was taking a Peloton class with Robin Arsone the other day, and she said something like, if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a hell no.

And that’s another way to say it, if that resonates with you more. I don’t want to do the things that I should Like they’re an obligation. I don’t really want to do them, but there’s some reason that I feel like I should. And so whatever that reason is, if it’s, I feel like I should do this for my business because so many other people are doing it or feel like I should take this case or I should meet with this person, whatever it is, I really take a gut check and say, is this something I just kind of feel obligated to do?

Or is this something that I really want to do? Am I jazzed this? Do I see the potential here? Is this something that is going to be really interesting or I’m passionate about, then hell yeah, I’m going for it, but I’m not going to do something just kind of out of an obligation. And again, just to show you how individualized and personalized this is for each of us, I would much [00:39:00] rather grab coffee with somebody looking to build their business, to optimize it for profit and enjoyment than Then go to a more traditional networking group.

And you may think, Lauren, you are out of your mind because that networking group can bring you so much business and you’ll meet all these people. You’re absolutely right. But what’s right for me is I’m much more jazzed getting coffee with somebody talking about their business and watching a fellow lawyer light up.

When they realize that they can build something that they absolutely love in a way that’s going to support their life and the lifestyle that they want. And so again, you’ve just got to pick what’s right for you. There is absolutely no right answer here. Just what’s important is identifying what your priorities are, taking back control over your schedule so that you’re building a schedule around those priorities.

Priorities, building in time for all of those things that you want to do, and then making sure that you have strengthened the no muscle so that every time something comes up, that just doesn’t check the [00:40:00] boxes that you needed to check. Doesn’t work for your schedule. Doesn’t align with where you’re trying to go.

You can feel really good about saying no. So over the last eight plus years of running my business, my routine and schedule has changed and it will continue to change. There’s no right answer here. It is personal to everyone based on what they value and what they value at certain times in their lives.

For me, I value the freedom to choose how I spend my time, uh, being present in my kids lives. And I value actually living and not just working until I die. So my goal with this episode was to add just another perspective to the work of daily routines that you may see out there. A little bit of the behind the scenes of what my life looks like on a daily basis.

Maybe you got some ideas, hopefully you pulled some tidbits in that you can incorporate into your routine and your schedule so you can feel more comfortable. Like you have so much more control and autonomy over your time. What I hope most is that, you know, that you have the permission to create a daily routine and schedule that works for you, [00:41:00] not for somebody else, not for what the profession thinks it should look like, not for what your colleagues think it should look like, but what actually works for you.

Taking back control of your schedule of your time is one of the most critical, important things you will do, not only for the success of your business, but for your wellbeing. And at the end of the day, I deeply believe that you deserve to be a happy lawyer. I hope that you don’t forget that. Thanks so much for listening today.

Until next time, keep building. I’m over here giving you a virtual high five because you just finished another episode of a different practice. For more from this episode, head over to a different practice.com/podcast for show notes and links to resources. If you found this episode helpful, let me know by leaving a rating wherever you listen to your podcasts.

And don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode. If you’re looking for even more practical [00:42:00] tools to optimize your law practice for growth and enjoyment, be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter. The link is waiting for you at adifferentpractice. com slash subscribe. I can’t wait for you to tune in next time.

Until then, keep building a different practice.