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Planning for Success in 2017 – 6 Tips for the New Year

Now that we’re in the last quarter of the calendar year, there are some key things you should be planning to close out the year strong and set you, your team and your firm up for a successful new year.

Planning for your firm’s success begins with taking stock of where your firm has been, setting and tracking goals and aligning focus and resources. Planning for your personal success begins with clearing out the clutter, approaching each day with a plan and maintaining focus.

3 Tips for Planning Your Firm’s Success

1. Take stock

First, spend some time reviewing what materials, initiatives and programs you have launched so far this year.
Did you accomplish all that you had planned? If not, what were the barriers? Do they still exist and how can you remove those for next year? If you did, what made that possible? Did your planned activities provide the results your firm was expecting? If not, how can you affect change next year? If so, how can you continue to achieve these results next year?

Next, take stock – literally! – of your branded materials. Make sure your materials are still an accurate representation of your brand and your firm. Are you still pleased with the quality and consistency of your brand and message? If not, rewrite, request proposals and update those materials in time for the first of the year. If so, review usage and inventory levels and reorder now to beat the new year rush.

Finally, review your attorney bio pages, your firm’s social network pages and the social network pages of your attorneys. Are the images, voice and tone of each consistent with each other and your brand message? Are your attorneys using LinkedIn and Twitter in the proper form? If not, write a user guide and do some training with your attorneys to get back on track before the end of the year.

2. Set reasonable goals

Prepare for next year by create a business plan with SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals. Your plan should include your firm’s overall goals as the touchstone by which all other goals and actions will be filtered.

When it comes to creating your goals, the less is more rule should apply. The more goals you have, the less likely you will be able to focus your time and resources toward each goal – hampering success.

3. Align focus and resources

Your goals will provide you with a foundation for a business plan that will outline your vision, what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there. You can use this plan to measure success, plan the tactics you’ll use to achieve those goals and create milestones your team can celebrate. Your business plan should spell out the activities that will support each goal. Include a breakdown of what will be continued, halted and introduced along with supporting reasons behind each. Be sure to include any cost-saving and business development incentives that will support these goals.

The final quarter is the best time to talk with your team about your business plan and goals for the next year. By aligning your focus and resources now, you will have a clear understanding about where you will (and won’t) devote your energy.

3 Tips for Planning Your Personal Success

Once you have a clear vision from the firm for next year, you need to live up to those expectations. Making simple tweaks in your day can help you achieve personal success that will translate into a healthier, less stressed you!

1. Clean out

Literally. Clean off your desk. Clean out your cabinets, bookshelves and knick-knacks. Get rid of files and other materials that you haven’t looked at in the past 12 months. Do the same with electronic files. (Be sure to keep anything that you legally need to keep, of course!) Move things around your office or work area in order to give yourself a new perspective.

2. Plan for productivity

End each day by creating the next day’s “to-do” list. Put it in priority order. Be sure to put the most challenging or important task first. Once this is achieved, your other tasks will be more easily managed. You will build momentum to keep you achieving productivity for the rest of the day.

Remember to give yourself a reward after you finish your most challenging task. This will keep you feeling inspired, productive and efficient. Your reward could be as simple as a fresh cup of coffee, a quick walk or even 5 minutes of meditation before moving on to your next task.

3. Maintain focus

One of the most effective ways to set yourself and your team up for a successful day and year is to remain focused, clear and calm. Having the touchstone of your firm’s goals helps you maintain focus on what is important. Continue to filter all your to-do’s through your firm’s goals and filter out what doesn’t align with the plan.

Other ways to maintain focus throughout your days include:
• Stop procrastinating
Once you begin to put off tasks, you will start to feel your energy wane and your productivity stall. This leads to a cycle of negativity, sluggishness and ineffectiveness.

• Stop multi-tasking
Research shows that we are 25% more productive when we focus on one task at a time. You will get a far better result, create less stress for yourself and feel much more empowered as a result.

• Stop checking email
Constant checking of email disrupts your day more than you think. Turn off the notification sound and pop-up window to avoid being chained to email. Move your phone to a drawer or somewhere out of site to fight the urge to check notifications from social media, text messages, missed calls and the like.

• Start moving
Moving is vital to having consistent energy which of course feeds success. Give yourself short breaks away from your desk. A quick walk around the block will give your mind a rest, reinvigorate your whole system and allow new ideas to come in. The best ideas often come when you are away from work and the computer, so put it in your schedule and do it!

Planning for success comes down to choices. By having a business plan with attainable and measurable goals, your firm will have a touchstone by which all other choices can be filtered. By setting up your day to be productive, you will have a filter by which you can make decisions about what is and isn’t important to achieve that day.

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