You use a goal tracker, aka task manager, to keep you on course with important projects in your law practice, don't you? In my experience with my lawyer clients, the answer to that question is either yes..., no or sorta - mostly no or sorta. Whether it is creating a marketing plan, making partner or finding your niche in the law, having a plan and making steady progress toward your goals are important factors in building a successful law practice. A method to break those goals into doable pieces is a vital component. But here, our best intentions run up against human nature. There is a tendency in most of us to resist what we perceive as over-organizing. It is much easier to focus on the work on our desks than create a plan and follow the specific steps to execute that plan.
That's were goal trackers come in. Probably the most primitive, but still useful, goal tracker is the lowly legal pad. Jotting down what you need to accomplish and the steps to take will get things out of your head and into a form you can use. For some attorneys, that's all they want or need. Fine.
For the rest of us, a more robust system of tracking our goals and the steps to achieve them is needed. In my coaching practice, my clients and I focus on specific goals and create a plan consisting of action steps (tasks), subtasks, and a timeline, to keep us on track. There are many systems that can fill that role. I have created a set of Word tables and an Excel spreadsheet that are simple and easy to use. There are also many fine goal trackers/task managers, as software or online systems, that will work. Several of the most popular are Basecamp, Todoist and Toodledo. What I do is make some suggestions to the client and let them choose the system that works best for them.
The two most important factors to consider in choosing a system are:
- There is not a long learning curve.
- You will actually use it!
Beyond these caveats, there are a number of valuable features a goal tracking system can have. For example:
- Subtasks. Several levels of these are even better.
- Start dates, in addition to due dates. It's very helpful to be aware of when you need to start a task as well as when it is due. It makes time budgeting more effective.
- Gannt charts. A great way to visualize where you are with each goal, task or subtask in relation to the others. if you can't find this in a goal tracker, you can use it separately.
- Calendar integration for start and due dates.
- An app. Many systems are primarily or exclusively an app. if you have the app on your phone you can review, edit, add, etc. to your tasks wherever you are.
- A way to view your goals, tasks and subtasks sorted by project, start date, due date, overdue, etc.
All of this being said, any goal tracking system is only as effective as the attorney that uses it. Don't get overwhelmed by bells and whistles. Think about who you are, how your practice area(s) function and how you tend to work. Choose the system that is the right one for you and then, use it!
Professional Lawyer Coach