Enjoy the highlights from my interview on BE THAT LAWYER with Walt Hampton! This edited transcript addresses time mastery, how full reactivity mode can set you back, and how freedom comes from discipline.
Steve: What is the single most important time mastery principle in your experience?
Walt: Well, I call it time mastery, because the single most important thing to realize is that while we all want to manage time, we can’t. Time is not amenable to management. We can wrestle it all we want, and it will come and go, however hard we work at the management of it. Becoming a better master of yourself and how we show up every single day, and in that way master the limited time we have on this planet.
Steve: So, what would be that one word that most lawyers don’t use as much as they should, that helps them get through the week with time mastery?
Walt: I think the one that we ought to lead with is “plan”, because what most lawyers do, and I was like this for many, many years – is that you wake up every single day, grab your smartphone, check your email feed and your email feed would become your agenda for the day.
Without a plan, we’re in full reactivity mode all day long. Never getting to the high value targets. With a concrete plan for a week, with a really detailed plan for the week then we have a roadmap to follow. And of course, I was a trial lawyer. We get thrown off course all the time. I was a single dad for a dozen years and a managing partner of a law firm. I get the difficulty of balancing it all, but without a roadmap that we ourselves use, that iss guided by our high value targets – as well as the things that we really value in our days and weeks and lives, then we’re at the mercy of other people.
Steve: An argument to that is “Look, I can have the best plan in the world, but as these things are coming into my space, I have to react to them or I’m going to be in trouble for a variety of reasons”.
Walt: Well, one of the things that’s not on my resume is that I’m a wilderness permit and I’m a wilderness paramedic because I spent a lot of time the backcountry.
I was trained by one of the most preeminent trauma surgeons in the Northeast in my in my initial training and he said, “if you come to the scene of an accident and your patient is still alive, you actually have time. Time to make considered decisions, time to be thoughtful because patients who are live die in minutes and hours, not seconds.”
This from a trauma surgeon. And Steve, we are not trauma surgeons. We like to pretend we are trauma surgeons, but everything is not an emergency in our lives. I was as I said, a litigator. I was a criminal defense lawyer. Very little needs to be handled in full reactivity mode day in and day out.
Think about think about your interactions with your physician. You put a call in – do you get that doctor on the phone right then? I doubt it. Do you get a call back? Maybe, but you don’t get it back in 30 seconds and you certainly can’t text that person or WhatsApp that person. We are “on” all of the time and we delude ourselves by always being on email. We actually reduce our productivity, our focus and our effectiveness so that ultimately we are not serving in the high way that we want to serve.
Steve: So, what do we have to do then to protect that day, protect that week? And how do we balance all that? What is the tool that you’re helping lawyers with that that gets them out of that mindset of reactivity?
Walt: With discipline comes freedom. The best tool comes back to this planning principle and getting a very clear plan for the week that includes your client service time, that includes your personal time, your gym time, your date night with your spouse or partner or significant others, your commitment to your kids and grandchildren. Getting all of those things on your calendar, having a really clear plan for your day and for your week.
Then within our days, create blocks of time in which we work. So, if we’re working on a deal – use a 60 to 90 minute block of time. 60 to 90 minute blocks for returning phone calls or emails so we’re not ping ponging all day long in and out of our email inboxes. Through block time we are single mindedly and highly focused on the thing that we’re doing. It increases our productivity and effectiveness dramatically. We need to disabuse ourselves of the myth that we can multitask because it’s not possible.
But what you and I teach, Steve, doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. So I always encourage the people I work with to experiment, take the ideas and experiment with them. So, if you were to experiment, for example, with a planning practice or block time, I would say give it a go for a quarter and see how it works. And I would encourage you to enroll in the people who surround and support you with that experiment as well. So, your legal assistant, your secretary, your associates, your family – enroll them and tell them what you’re experimenting with and have them support you.
You can listen to the full episode HERE.
To learn more about Walt and TIME MASTERY, you can visit his website at https://summit-success.com/.