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Melissa Shanahan

#216: Monday Map/Friday Wrap: The Playbook (Part 1)

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Welcome back to our Monday Map/Friday Wrap series! In the first two episodes, Melissa covered the foundational concepts of Monday Map/Friday Wrap that matter most. These are the concepts that allow you to keep improving, optimizing, and leveling up, so you can ultimately create better results for you and your firm.

As promised, Melissa is digging into the Monday Map/Friday Wrap Playbook this week. There are four prep steps involved that will tee you up to have a more seamless experience with Monday Map. The best news is that these activities were born out of questions people had as they were implementing Monday Map, so if you’re unsure about specifics as they relate to your calendar, Melissa’s got you covered. 

Listen in this week to discover the four activities you need to consider before starting the Monday Map process. Melissa is outlining the steps inside the Playbook that will streamline your planning experience, and she’s also getting into the first couple of stages of actually using Monday Map. If you’re interested in diving into the rest of the implementation process, make sure to tune back in next week! 

If you’re a law firm owner, Mastery Group is the way for you to work with Melissa. This program consists of quarterly strategic planning facilitated with guidance and community every step of the way. Enrollment will be opening soon, so join the waitlist right now to grab one of the limited seats!

Show Notes:

What You’ll Discover:

• Why Melissa recommends combining Monday Map with Friday Wrap.

• 4 prep activities that will set you up for Monday Map.

• Melissa’s recommendations for how to map out your ideal week.

• What is making it challenging for you to honor your calendar. 

• Why you have to schedule in buffer time. 

• How to clearly define what constitutes an emergency.

• The first 2 steps of planning for Monday Map.

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#214: Monday Map/Friday Wrap: Planning Your Time

#215: Monday Map/Friday Wrap: Honoring Your Plan


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Full Episode Transcript:

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I’m Melissa Shanahan, and this is The Law Firm Owner Podcast Episode #216.

Welcome to The Law Firm Owner Podcast powered by Velocity Work for owners who want to grow a firm that gives them the life they want. Get crystal clear on where you're going. Take planning seriously and honor your plan like a pro. This is the work that creates Velocity.

Well, hi, everyone. Welcome back to the Monday Map/Friday Wrap series that we are doing. We are digging into the playbook today. The first two episodes I've done in this series have really covered the foundational concepts, what is important for you to understand to set yourself up for success with priority management.

I just saw that recently. Instead of time management, say priority management, and I love that. That's exactly what this is. So, the more you understand the foundational concepts, the easier it is going to be for you to stick with this in a way that allows you to keep improving, keep optimizing, keep leveling up how you are showing up, and how you are operating.

All of that gets greater, better results for yourself, and for your firm all the way around. Everyone wins if we can stick to a process that really allows us to fly, allows us to focus on the things that matter the most, and deliver you a much more optimal experience.

Let me give you a bit of a breakdown with how I think about this playbook. So, when you opt in for Monday Map/Friday Wrap, you're going to get access to the playbook. In the playbook there is a prep, an initial prep section, that you need to go through. You need to do it before you sit down to actually do your weekly Monday Map.

I revisit this every so often, the initial prep section. You can't skip it. If you skip it, you're going to run into barriers that are unnecessary in the actual Monday Mapping process. So, we're going to cover today, the initial prep part of the playbook, and then a couple of steps in to the actual playbook that you will do every week when you sit down.

The reason is there's a good stopping point there, as I'm presenting this. And so, I'm going to get through to that really good stopping point, because I know that this episode is going to be plenty long with that. And then, the rest of the steps in the playbook I will cover next week.

And the reason I'm breaking it up like this… you can go get the steps, you don't have to wait for this episode. But I am not going to talk through them all in one episode because it'd be too long. And you have to understand that because I'm breaking it up into two, I could see where people feel like this is a really heavy playbook. That this is a really heavy exercise. But it's the teaching of it that takes more time.

I'm going to take my time and do a good job teaching these steps, and actually sitting down to do it. Especially when you understand it moves pretty quickly. You just go step by step by step. You do what you're supposed to do in every single step. But having the understanding that I'm going to provide here, I'm hoping will be immensely valuable to us.

It does streamline your experience of Monday Map/Friday Wrap, to get you oriented a bit. Monday Map is a weekly process where you sit down and you plan how you are going to spend your time, the minutes of your day, and the hours of your day, in the upcoming week. You can do this anytime you want, as long as it's before Monday, before you hit your week.

But I prefer to do it either on a Thursday or a Friday, that way I go into the weekend knowing that my priorities are set. I just show up and do what my calendar says to do on Monday. Now, there's also a second piece to this, which is Friday Wrap. Friday Wrap is a short, simple series of questions that you answer at the end of your work week.

So typically, I do these on Fridays. What I do, and what many people do, is they sit down on Friday, and they do their Friday Wrap to evaluate how they operated that week. There are some questions there that are straightforward to answer, and that takes 15 minutes, at the most. Fifteen minutes if you are really digging in, it could take five minutes. And then, they go straight into Monday Map where they're planning for the next week.

Now, if it's your first week doing this, you don't need to do a Friday Wrap. There's no practice for you to evaluate. You're just going to plan your week in a really great way using the Monday Map guide. At the end of your first week, you're going to do the Friday Wrap, which takes just a few minutes. And then, before the week starts, you'll do Monday Map.

I like to put these together, these activities, and I think you'll see why. We'll talk about that more as we get through the playbook, especially at the end, after we talk about Friday Wrap. But that is an efficient way to do it, and everything is top of mind as you're reflecting on how you operate it that week and how well you honored your plan.

There are some reflective questions there. It allows you to really process those lessons and carry them into planning, right then and there. So, that's the way we do it. You don't have to do that. You need to find your groove. You need to have a regular appointment with yourself to do Monday Map, and Friday Wrap. But you get to decide what that looks like.

I used to do these on Sundays, Saturday or Sunday. That was before I had a child. But even then, I think if I didn't have a child now, I have learned enough to know it is better to do before you hit the weekend. Because it's tough to get your head back in the game after you've had a weekend off.

Even if you didn't take the whole weekend off. Even if you work the weekend, which I hope many of you are trying to reduce your time on that. But even if you work the weekend, it's kind of hard to get your head back in the game to plan really well for the week when you are in your week and rounding out your work week.

You know the priorities are top of mind for next week, so you can be more efficient and move more quickly with the planning. Yes, even though the requirement is this done before you start work on Monday. You can decide when that is, but based on experience, the weekend is tough to take the space because it forces you to dig back in in a way that's harder than if you just would have done it before you left work at the end of your workweek.

That's my advice. That may not fit for everyone, but hoping that that helps you make a decision about where you are going to place this in your week. Alright, let's talk about the initial prep.

There are four prep activities to go through that will tee yourself up well for Monday Map. Creating your ideal week, calendaring, recurring activities, scheduling buffer time, and defining what an actual emergency is. You don't need to do this portion, this initial prep, every week just to get started.

As time goes by, like I mentioned before, you'll gain a better understanding of yourself and your schedule, and you can revisit these and adjust them as needed. I find I need to adjust these every quarter, at minimum. Sometimes it's more frequently than that. But this is not something you have to do every week; you will feel the need to go back to these at a certain point.

So, the first step prep, step number one, creating your ideal week. You want to map out blocks of time for different categories of work that matches how you would ideally like to flow through a week. This exercise will help you align your needs with your business goals. And it will optimize productivity because you'll start to batch things more naturally.

Take some time to think about where you would allocate blocks of time for different categories of work. And these blocks will serve as designation for certain types of tasks that you're going to calendar. And this will help you experience more predictability and more flow with your schedule.

Here are the categories of work that I love considering when it comes to mapping and designating certain areas on my calendar for certain type of work. These are the work categories, deep work, which I have down here as not client related. So, this is for tasks that require intense focused concentration. This could be research, it could be writing, it could be analytical work, but deep work is something to consider.

Shallow work, this is for important but less mentally demanding tasks. Such as responding to emails, attending meetings, administrative work, things like them, client work. This is for tasks related to providing quality services and support to clients. And that could include tasks such as responding to client inquiries, working on a client file, providing updates on ongoing projects, delivering completed work to clients. Anything where you are working on a client file could be considered client work.

Team time, this is for tasks relating to training your team and elevating your team, spending time investing in your team, and what that looks like for where you are right now in the business. What do you need to give to your team in terms of time.

Personal time, this is for tasks related to your life appointments, errands, hobbies, etc. These are the categories of work that are a good starting place. You may add categories of work, and that's totally fine. You do you, you know yourself better. You know if there's a certain category of types of tasks that you are going to need.

But this ideal week that you create, it should be used as a template for scheduling events on your calendar. And so, that's why it's important to think through before we get to Monday Mapping, which is clearly going to be scheduling events on your calendar.

And it's also important to say that once you have this outlined, you need to share this with anyone who has access to schedule events on your calendar, so that everybody's on the same page. Here are the categories of work. This is the way I want to flow through my week. Here in the first half of Monday, I want to do deep work; deep work activities go here.

And that may be because you want to start the week with a win. Something that required a lot of focus and effort, you gave it your all, and you've got it done. That is making the week a win. Maybe you tell them, so they can see client work should be scheduled on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays, from this time to this time.

And so, whatever you create, you need to make sure to communicate it so everybody can help you win at your calendar, at how you're spending time and how you are managing your priorities. Once you have mapped out your ideal week, you're going to make many micro decisions, every day, to line up closer to your ideal.

So, I want you to keep in mind that this is a flexible plan. It's going to require adjustments. It's going to require tweaks as you make progress and implement this. For example, I have a template for my week. And there are times where… When this starts to happen consistently, that's when I know I have to go back to this prep step. But there are times where things don't fit anymore with the template that I have.

And so, then I have to make decisions. I have to decide, do I want to keep this template? And so, that means I've got to figure out a way to make all the work fit into my template, or am I willing to adjust the template so that there is an evolution to my calendar, and to the things I'm spending my time on?

The other thing I'll say, is that when you are first implementing this, you will notice that your ideal week, it's very tough to fit everything into your ideal week. However, that is the template you want. So, you don't change the template. You always have in mind what the ideal is, and you work very hard to make that ideal work.

Now, if there are things you're willing to compromise on, it's just not that big of a deal, then make some shifts. When you see that it doesn't work out the way that you want it to, the way that you had mapped it. But if you really feel strongly about this as the ideal week, then it's your job to steadfastly keep pushing, so that the events that you have do fit your ideal week.

So, this is, it's a template, it's a guide, it is not perfection. Very rarely does my schedule fit perfectly with the template, but it's really close. And it serves as a wonderful guide for my team to place certain kinds of activities and certain parts of the week, so that I can move through with a really good flow, based on my energy, which we'll talk more about that.

But energy is a consideration when you are planning where you are going to spend time on certain kinds of activities. One tip I have for this step in particular, is that if you can have this Map somewhere that it can serve as a cross reference for scheduling, per your parameters. There's two ways you can do this.

You can set up a digital calendar and just call it “template” in the current platform that you use. Or you can set this up in a spreadsheet, like an “ideal week” template in Excel, for example, or Google Sheets. And people always have that to go to.

For us, I have a template schedule. We use Google Calendar. Actually, I use Motion. Someday I'll do a podcast about that. But it's layered on top of Google Calendar. So, in Google calendars, you have the ability to set up multiple calendars. Now there is one main calendar inside of our company that people use to schedule for me. We have different parameters, we change the colors depending on activity types, things like that. But it's one calendar and it's under my name, basically.

Now, I have a different calendar setup that I can click on, click the checkbox, so that it shows up. And it provides an overlay. It is my template. So, with that in there, when it's time to go schedule things, I know where to funnel certain kinds of calendar events, of things that I need to get done or things that I need to show up for based on this template.

So, I'll click it on when I'm playing with Monday Map and then I will click it off for the week as I'm living through the week. But for planning purposes, it's really great because it helps serve as a guide when you're actually calendaring things. You can set that up on your calendar tool, or you can set up a spreadsheet if for some reason using your calendar tools as a template isn't going to work out for you.

But again, with this whole prep step number one, get these categories set in a way that makes sense for you. I gave you a good starting place with the categories I listed off. But another one, for example, that you may want is “consults.” You want a space for consult calls or initial meetings or whatever you call them. And so, having blocks of time that are just for those.

People get nervous about this. If you're one of the people that gets nervous about actually blocking space where these are going to be funneled, you need to get over that. This is not a thing. Every single time I work with someone, and they never constrained down… Anyone can schedule anywhere pretty much.

And so, that causes a lot of trouble with sticking to any plan because people have access to your calendar to schedule things. You need to constrain down. You need to know when those dates are. Sure, make some options available so that some are in the morning and some are in the afternoon, if you want to.

If you're really worried about this, space them out so that there's some slots at different points in the week, and points in the day, so that people have them to choose from. But I'm telling you, you need to constrain down. You need to get organized about this. People don't just get any time on your calendar. Alright?

Prep step number two. After you've created your ideal week template, the next thing you're going to do is to calendar recurring activities. This is where you make sure that all of your regular activities such as appointments, drive time, that people don't put them on the calendar. They should do calls, meetings, Monday Map, meals, whatever.

There are other recurring things that probably exist in your world, and you need to make sure that they are scheduled in your calendar. Now, they may be adjusted week to week. Maybe it's not the exact same time, all day every week. But you know what's happening every week so put it in a slot, so that you don't have to add it to your calendar every week.

You can always move it around, drag it around, to where it should go when you're doing your Monday Map. But you need to put anything that's recurring on your calendar. Anything that you're supposed to show up and spend any amount of time on, in a recurring frequency, it needs to go on your calendar right now.

This step will save you time, week to week, with Monday Map. Now, some recurring activities may already be on your calendar. So, look at those, review those, and add anything that you expect yourself to spend any amount of time doing regularly.

Don't leave anything out. Make sure the ones that you already have on there are appropriate for the length of time where they are, and it is still needed. And make sure to add anything that you expect yourself to spend any amount of time doing regularly. Because if it's not in your calendar and you're supposed to do it, this is what starts to create a losing game when it comes to honoring your plan.

You have to really think through what are you supposed to be doing. Because if you don't map what you're supposed to be doing, something else is going to go there, you're going to fill it with something else. So, actually make your calendar reflect what you're supposed to be spending any amount of time doing.

Prep step number three, schedule buffer time. Now, this is a recurring event that should always be on your calendar. There is an exception to that. I will say that in a moment. But buffer time is essentially extra time that you schedule in your day or your week to allow for unforeseen events, delays or interruptions. It gives you some breathing room when things don't go according to plan.

And that's going to consistently happen unless you are truly protected by your team and your systems. So, this is the exception. If you don't need buffer time, if someone else handles your calendar, and they set it up in a way and you are very protected with your calendar so that you won't be thrown off. You don't have unforeseen events, delays or interruptions on a regular basis at all.

If you don't have those things, then you don't need buffer time. But I haven't met a law firm owner yet that doesn't need buffer time. Now, I do have some private clients that have gotten themselves to the space where they don't need buffer time, because they've built up a team and systems that protects them. And they are not at the whim of the world at all. They've got a team that handles all of it. So, it's very rare that someone comes to me and doesn't need buffer time.

By building in buffer time you give yourself flexibility to adjust your schedule and that prevents overwhelm when things get off track. It can help prevent that feeling of constantly putting out fires, and it gives you more control over your time. So, as a beginner, schedule at least an hour of buffer time each day. And that can be a good start.

You can see what you need, if you need more or less from there, but one hour. And how this will work, is if you have an hour where nothing gets scheduled, because it's buffer time, then when that client emergency arises, which by the way, that doesn't happen very often, that we're going to go into that in the next step.

Or when something crops up for you personally, that if you were scheduled back-to-back to back-to-back to back, it would totally screw up your entire day. But because you have buffer time, it gives you a little space to go deal with things you need to deal with. And then shift the calendar events accordingly. There's space for it, where you're not screwed, and it didn't throw everything off track.

Another example of why buffer time can be important is maybe you are in a practice area where the nature of it is that you have to drop really quickly. So, people who deal with transactions and M&A, they've got to be on and ready because they are waiting for the other side, etc. So, what do you need to give you flexibility? This is your time, this is your prep.

Buffer time and add in what you need, so that it's okay when the stuff comes up. It's okay when something unforeseen happens, and it's going to throw off your day. Otherwise, if you have this in place, it's less likely to throw off your day. The day could still be a win because you had space to account for things like this.

Prep step number four, define emergency. You want to take some time to really think about what constitutes an emergency at your firm. Because so often, people we react to a perceived urgency when it really doesn't need to be addressed right in that moment. It's out of habit. It's what we've always done, it's very reactive.

And so, by clearly defining what truly constitutes an emergency, you can avoid being thrown off track with every little issue that arises. And that allows you to stay focused on your planned schedule and your planned priorities, while still being able to address the truly urgent matters as they arise.

So, you want to write down the few scenarios that are considered an emergency. And you want to make sure that your team understands this as well, because sometimes they think something is an emergency because the client is acting like it's an emergency when really, really, it needs to be handled well verbally to the client. But there's nothing you can do about it in the moment.

It's fine if you wait two hours until you have that buffer time, for example, where this unexpected thing that does need to be dealt with can be dealt with at that time. So just make sure your team is on the same page with what the scenarios are that you deem an emergency.

Now, from here forward, the seemingly urgent things that pop up, they don't get to pull you from what you are scheduled to do unless it fits your definition of a true emergency. Instead, you're going to intentionally calendar time to deal with it and rearrange if absolutely necessary. But again, buffer time really allows you to do this in a great way where it doesn't feel highly pressured, and chaotic.

So, you want to intentionally calendar time to deal with it. And if that means it's two hours from now, that's okay, you're going to get to it in two hours, and you'll be able to respond after that. So, define an emergency for yourself, it helps you understand.

In a given week, people, they don't honor their plan oftentimes, because they allow something that popped up to pull their attention and it didn't need to. It's indulgent to go there. So instead, stick with your plan, and make a note in your calendar of when you're going to actually deal with that thing when it's appropriate. It shouldn't pull you off of your priority management, right?

Okay, those are the prep steps, my friends. First one is to create your ideal week, and make a template for where in the week you're going to focus on certain categories of work. The second is to calendar recurring activities, and anything that you are supposed to spend any amount of time on should be in your calendar. The third is to scheduled buffer time, starting with an hour a day. If you don't know where to start, start with an hour a day. And the fourth is to define an emergency.

These four prep steps, if you think through these, it will allow you to have a much more seamless experience with Monday Map. And really you know what these are born out of. These prep steps were born out of people's questions. So, this is almost like this could have been an FAQ.

What do I do if a client calls, and I need to deal with it? Well, it depends. Is it an emergency, a true emergency? Yes or no? It has to go through some filters, and if it is not a true emergency, schedule it into the buffer time. If it is a true emergency, let it pull you off track, off your plan, deal with it then, and shift your calendar into the buffer time.

So, it's like these came from questions of people actually implementing Monday Map. And I started to realize there are things people need to think of before they do this. And these are the four things you need to think of before they do this.

Alright, so now I'm going to get into the first few steps of actually sitting down for Monday Map and planning your week. So, Monday Map, this is your weekly planning process. And before you start, when you sit down to do this, remove all distractions, focus solely on the task at hand. And with practice, you're going to find your rhythm and this process should take 30 to 60 minutes, once you really get into it. The initial planning session is like I said, probably going to take longer, but aim for efficiency and aim for quick, decisive action.

You can do that better when you remove distractions, and let yourself sink into this practice. And always remember, progress is the goal, not perfection, whatever plan if you sit down to intentionally plan the next week, it's not going to be perfect, because you are not an expert at this yet. But it will be progress. And that's what matters.

Okay, the first step, when you sit down to plan during Monday Map, you want to identify a force multiplier. This can refer to anything that amplifies the effects of an action or an effort. And it makes everything more efficient and effective. So, what is one force multiplier, one thing you can do next week that will give you leverage.

maybe it's even leverage itself, it could be a task. I want to encourage you to keep this small, it doesn't need to be a project that overwhelms you, we don't need a project to stack on to our current priorities. Maybe you identify a project, like something that needs to be done that would give you leverage, then just identify one step of that project that you can do.

Don't make it too big, because then you're going to be deflated, because it's going to get squeezed out by the daily grind. So, this is meant to be small. A force multiplier is the priority. That is the gift that will keep on giving if you do it, but it often gets squeezed out by the day-to-day work of being a lawyer.

Some categories of efforts that your force multiplier could be tied to is delegation, delegating tasks to others, free up your time, your focus, so that you can spend your time and focus on higher level tasks that will have a bigger impact on your business systematizing or creating processes for repetitive tasks. And doing this can save you time and increase efficiency in the long run.

Outsourcing certain tasks, bookkeeping, marketing, this can allow you to focus on the core strengths and responsibilities, technology, it could be tied to technology. So, using tech better or differently, such as your practice management software or automation tools, something that can help you streamline your workflow and increase productivity.

And again, it's the way things networking. If this feels more appropriate for where you are right now, building relationships with other professionals will hopefully you know, to provide opportunities for growth, collaboration, etc. So, what is one thing you can do next week that will be a force multiplier that is leveraged for you, or will give you leverage will give you more time and freedom from the things that you don't need to be doing in the long run? Keep it small, identify one thing, so that you can calendar it.

The second thing is a weekly calendar scan. I want you to pull up your calendar in this step. And I want you to scan next week, the upcoming week. And take a moment to audit each day identifying a few things. The first thing you're going to audit for is anything that should not be on your calendar.

Hunt for tasks that can be delegated, automated, and take action to get those things off of your calendar. If there are items that can't be removed, think about how you can shift them or identify ways to get them done more efficiently. One thing that you can keep in your brain as you're doing your calendar scan is delegate, delete or automate any tasks that shouldn't really be taking up your valuable time.

This is the place to identify if you have the opportunity to do that here and now. Okay, so that's subtraction, taking things off your calendar addition now scheme for things that are missing, but they need to be there. Think about things, appointments, that you have that require drive time. I mentioned drive time earlier.

People don't put that on the calendar and it screws a bunch of things up. Any other tasks or events that should be added to your calendar to make sure that what is there is scheduled effectively. Alright, so we've done subtraction, we've done addition. Now, when you're scanning, I want you to scan your week again and identify any calendar “grenades” is what I call them.

These are items on your calendar that have the potential to wreak havoc on your schedule, it's the things that are going to blow up your schedule. The appointments, events are tasks that they're likely to cause disruption, or chaos if they're left unchecked.

So, you may have already spotted some of these in the prompts with the subtraction and addition. But it's worth asking it again, as a specific separate prompt, ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. So, take time to carefully review your calendar and make adjustments as needed to ensure that you're not setting yourself up for unnecessary stress or over load in the coming week.

The final one is consolidation. So, the last thing to do before we move on, and this is the last thing for this podcast episode, is to take a look at your upcoming week and see if there's anything you can move around to make the week more efficient. Can you batch similar tasks together to streamline your day?

And this is the time to make adjustments and ensure that your schedule flows more smoothly before adding anything new. And I would look to your ideal week template that you created, see what you can do to start to shift things in to that kind of a flow. This will help you move through your week with more ease and more flow.

So, it's worth figuring out what you can consolidate. What can you batch together? And can you move it to a part of the week that makes sense? Now, if it's client calls, don't move around a bunch of client calls. So, that's not what I'm saying. But do what you can here, and consolidate in a way that makes sense for you.

All right, everybody, we've covered the prep steps. And we've covered the first two steps of when you sit down to do Monday Map. And I'm going to stop here. Because then we're going to get into where you start to get everything out of your head and onto paper or onto a document and I'll tell you what to do with those things, how to organize them, how to get them in your calendar.

That is all coming up next week. But don't skip these steps. Because if you do, the future steps are going to be nearly impossible to win it. All right, everybody. Thank you have a wonderful week. I'll see you here next Tuesday.

Hey, you may not know this, but there's a free guide for a process I teach called Monday Map/ Friday Wrap. If you go to, it's all yours. It's about how to plan your time and honor your plans. So, that week over week, more work that moves the needle is getting done in less time. Go to to get your free copy.

Thank you for listening to The Law Firm Owner Podcast. If you're ready to get clearer on your vision, data, and mindset, then head over to where you can plug in to Quarterly Strategic Planning, with accountability and coaching in between. This is the work that creates velocity.

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