While I still value lunch with my colleagues on occasion, I now use lunch to either network or get work done. I try to go out at least twice a week for lunch with a new contact or current client. I find these lunches invaluable the one-on-one time creates and/or reinforces meaningful relationships that last. When I don't have lunch plans, I try to pack a lunch or pick something up quickly and work through lunch. By using the lunch hour for work, I free up time to do other things later on. For me, using the lunch hour wisely is critical for getting it all done.
With so much on our plates, it is virtually impossible to keep it all straight. When I first started, my organizational skills were lacking to say the least. That changed quickly when the deadlines started to overwhelm me. That is when I realized that my Outlook calendar is invaluable. I now make sure that the first thing that is done when a motion is filed or a management order entered is that the deadlines are calendared.
After realizing that my calendar was critical to managing deadlines, I started to use the calendar to assist with marketing. Too often you meet someone, try to schedule a lunch and the person asks you to get back to him or her in a month or two. Or, you have a lunch, discuss a topic and the contact asks you to follow up with him or her on the issue in a few weeks. Under either scenario, I make sure to put a reminder in my calendar to follow up at the appropriate time to ensure that the follow-up does not slip through the cracks.
True optimization of my calendar occurred when I started calendaring life tasks and activities and synchronizing my calendar with my spouse's. This way, I prevent double-bookings and ensure that I have a proper balance in my week for home and work life. In addition, my spouse and I can plan for nights when I will be home late and get child care coverage if need be. This prevents last-minute cancellations and/or an upset spouse neither of which is good.
My calendar just reminded me that this article is due as I write, so I better move on to my final tip.
Institute a Marketing Plan
When I realized the importance of business generation, I started attending as many events as possible and involved myself with too many organizations willy-nilly. I ended up spending a lot of time marketing with little return. When my busy life forced me to look at my efforts and see what was working, I realized I needed a plan.
While my first tip, prioritizing, is essential, you need to take it one step further and institute a marketing plan that is right for you. To do this, you do not need to be a marketing guru. Simply identify good sources of potential business, determine two or three methods that you think will bear fruit, and go for it. By setting goals, you can see if your methods work. If the answer is no, adjust your plan and try again. If you don't have a plan and don't set goals, you won't know what efforts are worth your while and what things are not worth your time.
Matthew A. Green is an attorney in Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel's litigation and labor relations and employment law departments. He works from the firm's Philadelphia and Cherry Hill, N.J., offices.