Four Quadrants To Crush Your Work Chaos

Owning a business is chaos (I’ve been there). As a CEO without a full team or the resources to build one, the work can just seem to pile up. Let’s chat about my 4-quadrant system that will put your work into the right context so you can get more done, and find a team that connects with you.

In this episode I discuss:

  • Using a Four Quadrant System that helps you understand how to put your work in the proper context
  • Identifying which category each task belongs in by asking yourself 3 key questions. 
  • How to find the easiest method of organization to avoid dealing with overwhelm.
  • Getting into the habit of training yourself how to use the four-quadrant system. 
  • Making sure that time to complete, urgent Category A item is added to your calendar
  • Building in buffer time on your calendar to take a deep breath, eat and relax for a moment.

Allison Williams: [00:00:12] Hi, everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you grow your revenues, crush chaos in business, and make more money.


Allison Williams: [00:00:16] Welcome to another episode of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. And this week we’re going to be talking about a four-quadrant system to crush your work chaos. So I get a lot of questions about how to deal with having too much when you don’t have a full team and you don’t yet have the resources to be able to immediately go out and assemble a team to do all of the work that is mounting on your desk. Because a lot of lawyers, I think, experience these feelings of I have too much and I’m not yet at the place where I can hire. Almost invariably that’s the wrong assumption, but that’s the belief system, and they want to do something to be more proficient in the work that they can do, so they can be more profitable, which they do understand is going to connect them with having the ability to hire some team. So I wanted to share with you guys this week a four-quadrant system that I created that helps people to understand how to put their work in the proper context while they have too much work to do. OK?


Allison Williams: [00:01:29] The first thing I always want to tell people is that there are a lot of resources that are available to get help with your law firm that are not as expensive as people might assume. So there are any number of virtual assistant companies where you can get help for literally less than $10 an hour all the way up to 30 or 40 dollars an hour, which is less than what you would pay for a skilled professional in your area. So I want you to consider that as an option. But even before you get there, when we come into a desk and we see our desk is overloaded with things that we don’t feel we’re going to be able to get to, either because we look at our calendar and we’re booked out for court or client meetings or adversary proceedings like depositions or things like that, or because we have time on our calendar but we anticipate that based on the things that normally show up in the workday, you know, the client calling saying, Hey, I got an emergency, I need you or the ordinary course of business correspondence, motions, etcetera that are going to come in in the mail. We expect that we’re not going to have a lot of time and it feels like everything is exploding. So this four-quadrant system is designed to help you to put things in the proper context so that you can first decide the order in which you’re going to approach your work. And we’re going to start with, most important, all the way down to least important, and that’s going to give you a lot of psychological ease as you are approaching your work.


Allison Williams: [00:02:56] So the first thing I want you to do this is something, by the way, that you’re going to need, you’re going to need a sheet of paper and a pen to participate in this little exercise. And if you aren’t able to do that right now, I want you to press pause and come back and join us after you have the sheet of paper and a pen. Super, super easy. Super quick. Not a lot of work, but the interactive part of it is going to make it a lot easier for you. Ok, so now that you’re back, I want you to, on your sheet of paper, I want you to draw a cross. OK? That means if you’re looking at a sheet of lined paper, go three lines down and one and a half lines across, meaning split the page in half so you have two columns and then split the page in half the other way, So you have two rows. Ok, so you’re just going to have a big T. Now in that T, I want you to in the top left-hand corner, write the letter A. The top right-hand corner, right the letter B. The bottom left-hand corner write the letter C and the lower right-hand corner write the letter D. So if you’re reading first left to right and then top to bottom, you’re going to read A, B, C, D.


Allison Williams: [00:04:08] Now, each of these quadrants is going to address two issues. The issue of urgency and the issue of importance. OK? So when we think about how quickly we need to get to something, a lot of times we perceive that all of our work is urgent, right? We have a mindset that says everything that I’m doing, everything that is in my line of sight right now is an urgent activity. And that is not always the case, in fact, more often than that, I’d say it’s not the case, the things that we often attach urgency to deal with our feeling of lack. So if we perceive that we don’t have enough money, then getting to the new client that has just signed up with us feels urgent. Or if we perceive that we don’t have enough leads coming in, then getting on the phone with our SEO company feels urgent. Or my personal favorite if we are in a state of serving existing clients and we want to keep our clients happy and, and coming back to us, we perceive that as soon as a client calls, our instinct is to drop everything and run to go help them. The problem with this line of thinking is that it’s not actually closely tailored to what’s going on in the business. It usually is rooted in the assumption that if we don’t serve people at the immediate moment that they request us to, if we don’t immediately attend to an issue that we’re going to lose the opportunity and we’re ultimately going to displace someone, they’re going to go somewhere else, OK? And I’m not going to suggest to you that you can ignore your clients and not have them go somewhere else.


Allison Williams: [00:05:51] But oftentimes that feeling that I’ve got to instantaneously respond, I’ve got to have my email on my phone. I’ve got to make sure that if the client wants something and they call at six o’clock at night, even though I happen to be at the office, the office is closed, but they’re calling because they know I’m in the building. I’ve got to respond, right? And I want you to suspend judgment of that for just a moment so we can fill out our quadrants with what is urgent and what is important. And then we’re going to talk about how to deal with activity in each of those quadrants. OK? So on the top, on the very first row, the AB row, OK, we’re going to be dealing with the issue of urgency. Ok, so I want you to write to the left of the A, the word urgent. Then above the A on the rose, OK, the rose, you have our AC and BD, I want you to write the word importance. Ok, so that means you’re going to have more urgency at the top than the bottom and you’re going to have more importance on the left than the right.


Allison Williams: [00:07:07] OK. Does that make sense? Urgency is on the top, is on the top row. Ok. Importance is on the left column. So the intersection of urgency and importance, this is work that is highly urgent, highly time-sensitive and highly important is in Quadrant A. So that means when we start to put things into quadrants, right, if we have a big old stack of papers on our desk and we are to sort through them the things that will go in your quadrant, A stack, our activities or paper or process or products that has a time-sensitive component to it. And that is important. Now before you tell me everything that you do is important, I want you to think about this in terms of whether or not it’s going to cost you your license. It’s going to cost you a client where it’s going to cost you a money-making opportunity. Ok? If you would define whatever it is that you’re dealing with is something that will cost you a client, cost you your license or cost you a moneymaking opportunity, then it becomes important. Ok? Anything that is not that something that might annoy your clients but won’t cost you a client does not find, not does not the, does not fit the definition, pardon me, of being important for purpose of this quadrant analysis. Ok. And by the way, we’re going for under inclusion in the urgent and important category because instinctually lawyers have been trained that everything is urgent and everything is important.


Allison Williams: [00:08:33] So what you’re going to do now is you’re going to underfill that category of what’s considered urgent and important because if you overfill it, you’re going to again keep that feeling of overwhelm. OK? So top left quadrant is the urgent and important category. Now we’re going to move to the left, pardon me, move to the right, OK? To the right of our, letter A is our Quadrant B. And Quadrant B, we’re still in that top row, so we’re still in the urgent, but we’re moving over to the right from important to not important. So that means Quadrant B are things that are urgent. They have some time sensitivity to them, but they are not important. This could be something like by way of example, a client calls and says by Friday, let’s say it’s a Tuesday by Friday night, if I’m going to initiate a new matter because you have told me that you’re only available to take this matter on between now and Friday. Ok, let’s say you are overloaded with work, and let’s say this is a client who if you did not choose to take their matter, they really aren’t that concerned about it. They know what the statute of limitations are. They have decided that they are still on the fence about whether or not the statute of limitations is going to be met, or they’re just going to let the claim lie, right? You have advised them in writing so that you are protected from a malpractice standpoint. And now it’s just a matter of you deciding, do I want this or do I not want this? And let’s say to protect the person’s statutory right to meet the statute of limitations, all you have to do is send a demand letter or put the state on notice. It could be something in the realm of agency work, if that is the case, right? It is important to a certain degree, but it’s not important for purpose of answering those three questions. Those three questions being, will it costs me my license? Will it cost me a client? Or will it cost me a money-making opportunity? Now you might say, if I don’t choose to take the new case, it’s going to cost me a moneymaking opportunity. But if this is not money that you need and desire to have in your business right now, right? Because not all money is good money, you may say I don’t need more money right now. Right now, I have more work than I can get to, and if I take in more work, it’s going to cause me more stress, cause me more anxiety, cause me more of that feeling of overwhelm without having a net return because I can’t do the work right now. It’s actually going to be a negative thing for me to bring in that work. So I’m not going to do that right now, right? So that would not meet that criteria of costing you something because it can only cost you something if you desire to have it and you lose it, not if you don’t desire it in the first place. Ok, so that’s where our Quadrant B falls.


Allison Williams: [00:11:34] Now we’re going to go down and to the left to quadrant C. Ok, now remember, we’ve talked about urgency at the top right? When we are looking at urgency, we’re going from left to right. On the left side are the things that we consider to be important because that’s what’s at the top of our column there. But urgency is at the top, non-urgency is at the bottom. Ok, so that means quadrant C are things that are important but not urgent. Ok, so important, but not urgent could be something like, let’s say, keeping with the idea of statute of limitations. Let’s say you consulted with someone. She’s been your client for 10 years, OK? She is highly loyal, you know, she’s not going to another lawyer and she wants to file a lawsuit. And let’s say you’ve got six months to file the lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs, right? So you have a window of time. Right? It’s not urgent that you deal with that today. It has to be dealt with, it does have some level of time sensitivity, but it’s not urgent because you could put it off for a week and not face any ramifications.


Allison Williams: [00:12:42] And it’s important in the sense that this is a long, long-standing client of yours, so you want to keep that client, keep that client happy, keep that client coming back. It is going to cost you a moneymaking opportunity if you don’t ultimately file that lawsuit. It is something that could cost you your license if you were to miss the statute of limitations. And it is something that could cost you a client if you were to miss the statute of limitations. So it fits the criteria of being defined as important. But it isn’t so time-sensitive that it’s urgent.


Allison Williams: [00:13:19] Now, our last quadrant is this quadrant D. OK? Again on the bottom and to the right quadrant D. Now remember, we are on the right side now, so we’re talking about things that are not important and we’re on the bottom in terms of our rows. We’re talking about things that are not urgent. So Quadrant D is the exact opposite of Quadrant A. Ok? It’s not urgent or important. Lots of things go into this, into this category in a law firm, so not urgent or important could be you received a call from a marketing company offering to perform an audit of your website. Let’s say your website’s cranking along, you’re doing great with your leads. You could always do better, but you’re happy right now.


Allison Williams: [00:14:07] That’s not particularly urgent, right? There’s no time sensitivity to that, and it’s not going to cost you your license, cost your client or cost you a money-making opportunity for you to put that on pause. Now again, let’s use our discernment in talking about this. When I say it’s not going to cost you a money-making opportunity. Of course, everything that you can do to dial in your marketing to improve your marketing could theoretically cost you an opportunity to make more money if you hesitate on getting the right vendor on sooner rather than later. But in this instance, you don’t have a pain point there, right? So that opportunity is still going to be there, presumably for you to dial in your marketing for you to improve your marketing at any point in time in the future. Right. Unless you have an immediate need, unless there’s a problem calling upon you, you’re probably not costing yourself anything by not solving the quote-unquote problem of needing to improve your website. So it’s not important or urgent.


Allison Williams: [00:15:07] Another example might be that let’s say you’ve decided that you’re going to reupholster the chairs in your conference room, right? Let’s say the chairs have gotten a little dated in terms of the fabric that you have on there, but they’re still in relatively good condition, right? There’s no safety hazard, there’s no, you don’t have holes in the furniture. It’s not detracting from the professionalism that you want to have a different look, but you want to have a different look and you’ve decided that you’re going to move forward with that.


Allison Williams: [00:15:33] Well, there’s no time sensitivity to that, right. There’s it’s not like if you don’t reupholster the chairs by the end of the month, you’re going to lose a client and you’re certainly doesn’t, you know, the type of furniture you have in your office does not inherently impact your license, and it’s probably not going to cost you money or money or money making opportunity if you don’t change the decor in your office. So in this instance, it’s not important. And since there’s no time sensitivity to it, it’s not urgent.


Allison Williams: [00:16:08] So I want you to think about these four quadrants again. A is for urgent and important. B is for urgent but not important. C is for important but not urgent. And D is for not urgent or important. So when we think about work that we have, that we want to now categorize for purpose of deciding how our work is going to be done. I want you to think about putting into place a really simple system that will allow you to visually see the four quadrants. It can be simple as something as simple as buying some stackables that you can put on your desk and you can actually tape to the side of it. The letters A, B, C and D. Right? A is going to be at the very top and D is going to be at the bottom. So you’re going to go from top to bottom with A, B, C, D.


Allison Williams: [00:17:03] Now, the beautiful thing about this is when you first create this system and you can get these little wire soccer balls at Office Depot for literally ten dollars, right? So this is not an expensive, custom techie solution. There are lots of different tech solutions that I highly recommend, but this is something that if you are using paper in your office in any manner whatsoever and most of us do, even if we have a paperless office, you still at some point have to scan the paper to even have it available in electronic form because a lot of attorneys still use paper. So you don’t necessarily have a paperless office by virtue of you deciding to not have paper. Somebody is going to send you some paper somewhere, right? So I want you to think about what is in that stackable. And when you start looking at what’s on your desk, the easiest thing to do, the easiest method of organization is to literally round up all the paper, put it in one big stack, and just start sorting through it and ask yourself, is it urgent? Is there time sensitivity to this? And is it important? Now when you first start, your inclination may very well be to put a lot into Category A, there are some things that will very easily fall into Category B, right? Solicitations, advertisements of services that you do not immediately need. Those would go into Category D. time-sensitive, highly important legal work that has a deadline that could impact your license goes into Category A. OK? 


Allison Williams: [00:18:38] And then Category B and C tend to be the most fungible. They tend to be the most malleable based on what’s going on, right? So something can start as urgent but not important. And then it can shift over into urgent and important so it can go from B to A based on the passage of time. So what you’ll find is the very first time you go through a sorting, you will stick everything into a pile for A, a pile for B, a pile for C, and a pile for D, but then you’re going to next go into those piles and put them in order based on the extent of urgency which typically is based on time. Right. So if I have, if I look at my urgent pile and let’s say urgent is going to be everything that has to be done this week, well, if it’s Monday, I’m going to put the Tuesday activity on the top of the pile, then the Wednesday activity, then the Thursday activity, then the Friday activity, right? I’m not going to just keep my urgent and important pile in a big old pile and have it kind of reverberating at me screaming at me, Oh my God, we’re urgent and important.


Allison Williams: [00:19:45] You’ve got to deal with us, right? We’re not going to just have it there in an unfiltered, you know, stack. We’re going to actually go through and further filter once we have the A, B, C, D. We’re then going to put them in order, everything that’s in those A, B, C, D stacks, we’re going to put them in order based on how urgent, meaning how sensitive and that is going to go on the top and we’re going to work our way down. So if again, it’s Monday, I’ve got A is typically representative of work that has to be done by Friday. Things that have to be done by Tuesday are going to go to the top of that stack, things that have to be done by Friday at the bottom of that stack. Now I want you to also remember that typically A is easy to identify. D is easy to identify. B and C are the ones that tend to, this is not universal, but they tend to go back and forth, right? There’s a little bit of flexibility there. And again, what tends to happen is the stuff that’s on the bottom right. Things that are in the D category are able to move to C and then to B and then eventually over to A, depending on what they are. So I want to give you an example. Earlier, we talked about having a solicitation from a marketing company, let’s say you get a postcard and a marketing company has a really snazzy tagline and a really bright and descriptive explanation of how they can generate a significant number of leads for you in a relatively short period of time.


Allison Williams: [00:21:15] So you see the postcard and you say, Aha, that looks interesting. Right now, I don’t have an immediate need to advance in my marketing because right now we have too many leads as it is, right? We’re not, we’re not hurting for business right now, and it’s time for me to hire. So before I hire that person, I probably don’t want to go driving in a ton of new work because I can’t even get to the work I have. So that person’s postcard, that company’s postcard is going to start at D. But then let’s say over a period of time, you’re working on hiring. Let’s say you go ahead and hire in that new associate, you’re super excited to have that person start with you. You are starting to feed that person some of the work already on your plate, you’re starting to have some ease in your day, you’re not working 50 hours a week anymore, you’re down to working 30 to 40 hours a week. It’s comfortable ish, right? We’re always in the state of evolving as a business owner and a lawyer and a leader so all of that tends to have stress, even if you’re doing it during a traditional 40 hour workweek. But let’s assume for the moment, things are better under control now that you have some help from a, from an associate attorney and all of a sudden you start to see a dip in the number of people who call your law firm.


Allison Williams: [00:22:25] So you’re like, huh? Well, that’s odd. We aren’t getting as many phone calls, and let’s say you reach out to the company that is currently overseeing your website and they don’t get back to you. You email them, you tell them, Hey, I’d really love to have a response on why it seems like all of a sudden no one’s calling us. And let’s say they don’t respond for a period of time, and you just kind of let it go and then you reach out again. And they respond and they say, We’ll look into it and we’ll let you know, and you’re not happy. Right? And let’s say you’re either in a month to month relationship or you’re out of contract and you just haven’t renewed your contract yet. And at some point you say, OK, this company is not working for us anymore, and I’m starting to get worried because one of our primary sources of traffic for leads is online marketing, and we all of a sudden aren’t getting leads calling us from our website anymore. So now you have a problem right now. You went from having a not urgent or important issue to address, to having an issue that is at minimal important, right? It might not be at the urgent stage yet because you might not have no business. You might still have personal referrals coming in, you have more than enough work to feed yourself and your associate money is flowing well, but you are starting to get some concern there, right? So it’s gone from D to C because it is now important, but not urgent.


Allison Williams: [00:23:51] And let’s say you’re busy, you don’t quite get around to it. So now you have moved that postcard from D to C and another couple of weeks go by. And next thing you know, we have a real issue because what we’ve seen is we haven’t actually, let’s say we haven’t checked our tracking system. But let’s say you’ve been following Law Firm Mentor for a while. You know that you must have a very well dialed-in tracking system for your intake process. And let’s say you’re starting to see you’re starting to realize that your intake process has a hole in it, right? You are able to identify leads, but let’s say we’re not getting those leads scheduled. And let’s say you’re listening to your intake professional on the phone, something that I highly recommend. We actually talk about that in Intake Mastery. Let’s say that what you realize from your audit is that you actually don’t have leads coming in that are of the quality that you require.


Allison Williams: [00:24:48] Something has happened. Now you’re getting calls, but there are fewer calls, and the people who are calling don’t have a need for the service that you offer, expect pro bono representation, are not willing to pay for representation and all the things that we teach your intake professional how to do in the Intake Mastery course. This person is doing very well, but you’re still just not getting the right people. Ok, so you now need to address your marketing problem. And because you have also not been tracking, let’s say this is something that you skipped over in the Intake Mastery course. You’re not tracking the people who are calling the number of people the number of leads you get every week, the conversion rate on scheduled appointments and the conversion rate on actually closing clients in those scheduled appointments. But let’s say you have a hole in there somewhere and you start to now open your eyes up and you say, Uh oh, we got a problem here. I just noticed we don’t have anywhere near the number of leads that we should have. Now you have gone from having a C problem. It’s important, but not urgent to having an important problem that is also urgent. Ok, so now you’ve gone straight from C to A. OK. It has jumped to that top pile. And if you don’t have time sensitivity around this, but you have an urgent problem, i.e. the phone’s not ringing right, the phone is not ringing. We can’t identify the source and our usual source for getting some short-term traffic. Our marketing company is not responsive and we need to get another marketing company.


Allison Williams: [00:26:17] You can impose your own time-sensitivity just by virtue of the nature of the problem, right? Because a client could call you today and say, Hey, my house is on fire and I got to do X, Y, Z and you say great, drop everything and run. We’re going to deal with this tomorrow. We’re going to go to court tomorrow. We’re going to, we’re going to file something tomorrow, etcetera. That type of drop everything and run creates a time urgency, even though one did not exist at the time that you categorized the work. So I wanted to give you that example to evidence how the work that you start out with, the work that’s on your desk that needs to get sorted into those four quadrants may move around the quadrants, right? And normally things are going to move from the bottom up, which means they’re going to move from D up to A over some period of time. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes things cool off, right? You may have an urgent and important problem that becomes an urgent problem that’s not important, right? Or an urgent, important problem that moves from being urgent to being not urgent, but it’s still important. So I’ll give you an example of that one.


Allison Williams: [00:27:28] Let’s say that you do litigation work, and let’s say a person comes into you and says, Hi, I’ve got a real problem. My statute of limitations runs tomorrow. Now we know that clients don’t speak that way, but let’s assume they give you some facts, you ascertain that from what they’ve told you. So you know that you’re taking this person in on Monday and you have to file a lawsuit by Tuesday in order to preserve their right to pursue their claims.


Allison Williams: [00:27:52] Ok. So in that in that scenario, it’s important that you file it and it’s urgent that you file it. But let’s assume that after you start working on drafting this document or a paraprofessional in your team works on drafting it, the client calls later in the day and says, Hey, I just realized that X, Y, and Z happened, and now you realize, Hey, there’s a brand new claim here that’s going to tack onto the original claim that we have, which is going to extend our statute of limitations by six months. Ok, so now you might say, yeah, I want to go ahead and file as soon as possible, but maybe I want to try to negotiate with the other side. Before I do that, maybe I want to do a little pre-investigation that I didn’t have time to do when I thought I had to file by tomorrow. So now we still have something important, right? Filing a lawsuit on behalf of our client still important, but it’s not urgent anymore. So it went from Category A to Category C, you have bought yourself more time.


Allison Williams: [00:28:52] So I want you to think about these four quadrants as a starting place, and the beautiful thing about this system is that you can fluidly move things in and out of your four-quadrant system very easily. And what I want you to get into the habit of doing to train yourself around how to use the system is when things are in the category, an urgent and important category. You still want to have a general working sense of what is in there so that you can start to alleviate some of the distress you feel, right? So if there are 400 sheets of paper on your desk and you have categorized everything into Quadrant A., I want you to get into the habit of looking through your through your stack at least once every couple of days when you first get started to see, Is this really a quadrant A? Or is it a Quadrant B urgent? Not important, or Quadrant C? Important, not urgent. Ok. Category D. Pretty easy to identify. Not urgent. Not important. Ok, you got a letter from an attorney on a on a case, You’re really friendly with the attorney, your client and the and the adverse party are talking and working things out. Not urgent. Not important in the moment. Least important the way we’re defining it. So it goes in Category D. Right? And you know that it’s there and it kind of is out of sight, out of mind. And that’s OK. Except that, of course, we’re going to have you at least look through your A, B, C, D quadrants once a week. OK?


Allison Williams: [00:30:23] I’m a big proponent of cleaning off our desk at the end of the week so that all that stuff that’s accumulated can go into the categorization, and do so in a way that gives you a release of the stress of, Oh my god, look at all this stuff on my desk. But, assuming that you didn’t even get to it, the category D stuff is probably not going to blow up, even if you didn’t look at it, right? The category A stuff, is the stuff you always want to be, you know, insight and in mind. Right? You don’t want to be stressed over it, but you do want to be aware of it. You want to be thinking about what’s in there and you want to skim through it to make sure that you’re putting things in there timely,


Allison Williams: [00:31:00] Now any of you that have followed me for any length of time, if you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know, I’m a big proponent of saying if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not getting done. So what I’m also a big fan of doing is once you’ve put things into your quadrants, is that you at least for your Category A activity for all of the things that are in Quadrant A. You want to make sure that the Quadrant A activity is on your calendar so that there is a time to get it done, right? The urgent, not important things that have to get done right that time sensitivity things, that’s Quadrant B. You also want those on the calendar. Not urgent and important Category C, typically you’re going to eventually get that onto your calendar, but if it’s not on the calendar right away, that’s OK. OK? But at least for quadrants A and B, you want to have urgent things on your calendar. And that is not just the deadline. You want to allocate the time on the calendar that it takes to do the activity. So if you know that you have to go through a very intricate financial analysis to give your client advice about a settlement proposal, then you don’t want to have just a deadline of Friday. Friday is the date by which I have to write that proposal. You want to have that on your calendar and then you want to look backward and say, OK, if I have to give my client a recommendation on this settlement proposal and talk through all of the financial intricacies of it by Friday, I need to look at my calendar and I say, OK, so I’ve got some time on Tuesday afternoon, I’ve got some time on Wednesday morning. Go ahead and block that time out.


Allison Williams: [00:32:35] Now, however, much time you think you’re going to need, be a little generous with that time, by the way, I’m always a big fan of overestimating how long it will take me to do something so that I can take a bathroom break or I can twiddle my thumbs a little bit, or I can just get up and like, walk in place to get some exercise in, right? Whatever I need to do. You don’t want to schedule yourself from the start of your day to the end of your day with no time in between. So typically, if you are at a state of overwhelm, which means you have too much work you want to build in some of that buffer time on your calendar so that when you have that, that lift, that ease, your calendar is telling you, you’re supposed to be somewhere else. But wait, you’re done early or you’re not yet due at the new place. You can give yourself a moment to take a breath. Ok, taking your breath, super important when we feel overwhelmed.


Allison Williams: [00:33:25] All right, everybody. Today we have been talking about work overwhelm, and in particular the four-quadrant system for managing what is urgent and important, not urgent and not important in your law firm. I hope that this has given you a frame of reference to deal with work overwhelm and that as you are starting to work through some of these issues in your business that you’re going to give yourself the freedom, and yes, this does create freedom, the freedom of knowing that not everything is urgent, not everything is time-sensitive, not everything is on fire. That is a conception in the mind. And the more we manage our mind, the more we can mitigate our stress and have a better work experience.


Allison Williams: [00:34:04] All right now, if this is something you need help with, I want to invite you to reach out to us here at Law Firm Mentor. You can always visit us at and schedule a growth strategy call where we’re going to talk to you about how to deal with your work overwhelm in a way that’s going to keep you going, keep you growing and keep you crushing that chaos. All right, I’ll see you guys on the next podcast episode.


Allison Williams: [00:34:44] Thank you for tuning in to The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor Podcast to learn more about today’s guests and take advantage of the resources mentioned. Check out our show notes. And if you own a solo or small law firm and are looking for guidance, advice or simply support on your journey to create a law firm that runs without you. Join us in the Law Firm Mentor Movement free Facebook Group. There you can access our free trainings on improving collections in law firms, meeting billable hours and join the movement of thousands of law firm owners across the country who want to crush chaos in their law firms and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Have a great day!



Allison Bio:

Allison C. Williams, Esq., is the Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.

Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest-growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest-growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.

In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining, and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications, and money management in law firms.


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00:30:23 (31 Seconds)

I’m a big proponent of cleaning off our desk at the end of the week so that all that stuff that’s accumulated can go into the categorization, and do so in a way that gives you a release of the stress of, Oh my God, look at all this stuff on my desk. But, assuming that you didn’t even get to it, the category D stuff is probably not going to blow up, even if you didn’t look at it, right? The category A stuff is the stuff you always want to be, you know, insight and in mind. Right? You don’t want to be stressed over it, but you do want to be aware of it.