Generous Productivity – It’s Not Just About You

So many lawyers want to be more productive. We look for productivity hacks, tips, tricks and apps to help us do more in every day.

But in doing so, we’re missing the bigger picture. We’re missing an opportunity to be productive in a real world way. Because we’re totally focused on ourselves.

 

You need to flip your understanding or productivity on its head. You need to realign your appreciate of your value. You must think outside your tiny little keyboard.

So many lawyers are totally self-absorbed. It’s a disturbing, but true, reality of legal practice.

Let’s start our analysis of why that’s so dumb. I’ve written about generous productivity before. Here I explain it further.

Productivity in a Vacuum is Stupid

I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of productivity articles, blogs and suggestions over the years.

And they all bear one thing in common – they’re about YOU.

YOUR focus.

YOUR achievement.

YOUR output.

YOUR concerns.

YOUR profit.

And, if you sit in a room all day by yourself, with nobody around you, and nobody to serve, and no concept of leverage, then perhaps that is the right way to go for you.

But for the majority of people, that’s not what a career in law actually looks like. It’s not just you. It’s not just your concerns, and your billable hours, and your ability to do things.

Generous Productivity is Bigger than You

Here is the secret of a lawyer that really understands productivity – it’s about more than you.

You need to flip your understanding or productivity on its head. You need to realign your appreciate of your value. You must think outside your tiny little keyboard.

Personal productivity is great. Well done. You’ve managed to achieve more today then you did yesterday. Fantastic.

But here’s the thing – if you focus entirely on your own personal productivity then you’re missing a huge opportunity to provide massive value to your firm, and your practice.

What do I mean? I mean that you need to think about more people than just yourself.

Generous Productivity – How it Works

Let’s illustrate with an example.

You have a task to do. It’s going to take you around 30 minutes.

3 people require your input at the time you commence the task. They have questions for you about files you have managed, things you have done, or just stuff that you happen to know about.

What do you do? Do you continue with your task, excelling as the focused and diligent professional that you are, or do you address the questions of those around you?

Here lies the core of generous productivity. It’s about thinking outside your self, and your personal priorities – and looking at the bigger picture.

What is the more productive option, on a bigger picture level? Is it:

  • you brush the others and continue with your task; or
  • you answer the questions and allow them to progress, delaying you somewhat?

It’s Leverage 101

It doesn’t matter if those that require your attention or more senior or not – it just matters what the value proposition is.

What provides greater value – you doing your task, or your colleagues getting on with their own?

Our tendency is to assume that OUR task, OUR priorities, OUR focus is the most important.

But we’re frequently wrong.

What is the greater value is provided by you helping those others? By them being able to perform their task? By them being equipped to move forward.

Think about it logically – in delaying them by 30 minutes, you are not costing the firm 30 minutes. You are costing 30 minutes per person who needed your help.

Your refusal to assist is cumulative. It adds up. Those you make wait cost money, just as you do. That means if you make 3 people wait 30 minutes each, you’re not necessarily adding value – you’re costing the firm 3 x 30 minutes x the hourly rate of the others.

Sometimes that’s rational, and sensible – if your task is important enough.

Sometimes it’s stupid, selfish, and entirely focused on your own goals without sufficient regard to the goals of those around you.

Does this Mean you Need to Help Everyone Always?

No. Don’t be silly.

It means you need to think beyond yourself.

It means you need to think outside your own tasks.

It means you need to adopt a bigger picture approach to your productivity – one that doesn’t just revolve around you.

How to Adopt Generous Productivity?

It’s really fairly simple: rather than thinking only about your own accomplishments, your own budget, your own focus – think bigger.

Think about those around you, and what they need to do.

Think about what others need to serve their clients.

Think about what your firm needs to make a profit.

And think beyond the end of your own nose, in every decision.

I’m In – What’s Next?

If you’re bought in to this concept, then do two things for me:

  • start using generous productivity as a term around the place (pretty sure I’m the only person to mention it) – and point people here; and
  • tell us in the comments how YOU adopt generous productivity.

Happy Lawyering!

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