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Melissa Shanahan

#244: Mastering Your Time: Prioritizing Your Ideal Week as a Law Firm Owner

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What does your ideal week look like? Does it include time for the most important things to you, AND the most important things in your law firm? When owners find Melissa, one of the most common problems they face is finding enough time in their calendars for the things that are most important to them personally and professionally.

The relationships that are closest to you, your family and friends, are important. But so is taking care of your health and wellbeing, and so is growing your firm. How can you even begin to use Monday Map/Friday Wrap if you don’t know how to prioritize what’s most important? If this is something you struggle with, you are not alone and you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

In this episode, Melissa exposes a common pain point for law firm owners who want to take control of their time and start using it for what matters most. She shares how to create Zones in your calendar to dedicate to your priorities, how to uncover what your top priorities are, and how she helps the firm owners inside Mastery do this progressively better each week, one turtle step at a time.

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. Join the waitlist right now to grab one of the limited seats when enrollment opens again!

Show Notes:

What You’ll Discover:

• What Zones are and how to use them in your calendar.

• Why you need an ideal week template for your calendar.

• What is missing from most law firm owners’ templates.

• Why the Monday Map process is simple, but not always easy.

• How to practice being more intentional with your time.

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Create space, mindset, and concrete plans for growth. Start here: Velocity Work Monday Map.

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Join the waitlist for our next Monday Map Accelerator, a 5-day virtual deep-dive event.

Schedule a consult call with us here.

The Monday Map/Friday Wrap Process

The Tim Ferriss Show: #355: Greg McKeown — How to Master Essentialism

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Full Episode Transcript:

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I’m Melissa Shanahan, and this is The Law Firm Owner Podcast Episode #244.

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.

Hey, everyone, welcome to this week's episode. I'm so glad you're here. Okay, here's what we’re digging into today. This is coming off the heels of a live event that I did last week that was offered to Mastery Group members. That's something we're doing new this year, just as a part of the membership. There's no additional cost, except for your travel to get here.

We are offering dates where you can come as a member, and dig in on what your barriers are in making headway, with me there and present as support, helping you think through things, asking high quality questions, and you get to have a sense of community with the other members. We are really looking forward to more of these events.

So, last week, we had one and what we focused on, I wanted to share here, the way that we opened up the event, because it made such a big difference for those that were present. The focus was Monday Map. Because you have to remember, the members that I'm working with, they already have their goals, they already have their key quarterly priorities, which we call Rocks. They're pretty dialed on what needs to happen.

Monday Map is really how it's going to come to fruition. When are you going to execute on these things? That's where Monday Map comes in. So, that's where I wanted to focus for members. It was making sure that they felt really sorted with this process. And that every week they show up, they're going to be giving some themselves the space that they need in order to make headway in the ways they want to.

Everyone has their own barriers with Monday Map. I've said this time and time again, and I'm going to say it here once more. This is about progress, not perfection. This is about showing up for the practice of Monday Map. It is not about perfectly having this schedule that you can move through and you don't need any extra time and you planned out the exact amount of time for everything you need, and it's going to go according to plan.

That's robotic, and that's not realistic. That's not what I teach. What I teach is intentionality. Sitting down once a week to look forward to the next week and make some decisions about what's going to get done and when. And the more that you do this process, the easier and easier it gets. Because frankly, the more honest you get.

I've talked about this plenty. But my point is, when members are coming, that's where I'm thinking, “I need to meet them where they are with this process, because it is the dealmaker with them being able to get done what they want to get done in the quarter.” And so, that's where we started.

The way that I led the beginning of the day was making sure that they were all documenting and very in tune with what they say matters the most in their worlds.

Actually, let me back up to why I'm doing this. Why I wanted to start here with people is because, in Monday Map, I ask you at the beginning to make a calendar, an ideal week template. In this template, you're basically identifying zones, or certain types of tasks that should funnel towards. And here's what I know.

I say this with love, y’all’s templates aren't good enough. You know why I know that? It’s because of the conversations that I do get to have about things not fitting, not getting done, people not having what they need. And I can just tell that they aren't well thought out enough. Now listen, I do not have judgment on this, this is not a problem. But I want to be helpful here.

So that's why I was going to go down this path. Because if you don't have a really great template, that tells you where to funnel certain types of calendar events and certain types of tasks, then Monday Map itself is so much harder. It's so much harder to actually calendar a week where you don't have the zones setup in a way that really supports what matters the most, at least according to you, right?

And so, that was my goal. It was to help them really create a template that made a ton of sense for where they are. What I learned was, and this went with a hunch, but the hunch was proven true. It was that when I asked them to rank, basically, the most important things in their world. If they are going to devote themselves to something, what trumps everything else?

The truth is, there's a pattern typically with people, myself included, that number one and number two are some combination of wellbeing or self-care or health, or something to do with self-care. Making sure that you're taking care of yourself. The other is family or loved ones. So, those relationships that are the closest to you.

That has been the case for nearly everyone I've worked with. And number three, oftentimes, is your company, it is your business, it is your law firm. That is good to know, because what tends to happen is, with Monday Map/Friday Wrap, people don't take into account the first two things that when pressed, they say trump everything else. But they do focus on work.

But they leave in the dust the first two elements of themselves that they've said is most important. This is very normal for us to do it. Again, this is not judgmental. I'm just looking at, and presenting to you, information. To me, this is data, and we have to work with the data.

So, what my plan was with this was to help people identify what are the top three things that matter to you the most, and I want you to put them in order. That was some deep work. That was really good work. I enjoyed working through that with members. And I look forward to being able to do that more and more as time goes on.

Once they identified those things though, they could see where the template that they had for their ideal week did not take into account, as well as it could have or should have, those first two priorities. It's not that they were extremely far off, but it wasn't thought through. It wasn't well thought out.

And so, now they could create a template that really supports what they say matter the most. And then, of course, the third being the firm, they can create an ideal week template that offers zones for different kinds of work. So you can see where you have some of the personal stuff that you have zones for, and then you also have work that you have zones for.

And when it comes to work and creating your ideal week, it should be done within set work hours that you've decided upon. It's almost like having guardrails; you're setting up guardrails. But here's the other thing I'll say, so many of us don't take the reins where we could take the reins, when it comes to your time, your calendar, and what makes the most sense for you.

This is because you're not organized enough to be able to give options to other people. It's kind of like, “Well, what do you have? Let me see if that could work with my schedule that week,” or this week or whatever. Instead of saying, “Wednesday afternoons and Friday mornings are my two times to take care of these things. What do you have in those windows?” You tell them what you need.

And people can't do that because they haven't ever decided zones for this kind of thing for themselves. And so, when you set up your ideal week and the way that you want it to flow, which should be based on, in large part, energy. When your energy is the highest to give to certain kinds of things, and when you would prefer to do other kinds of activities where you don't need high energy. Really thinking through that.

And so, you being intentional with the flow of your week. And week to week, you can decide the events that go into the flow that you've designated. But if you don't have a flow setup, if you don't have this ideal week setup, with zones designated, it makes it very difficult to plan. You have to think a lot harder when you're deciding what your priorities are. And you're setting yourself up to fail.

This is a big reason why people don't stick with the weekly practice of Monday Map, because it's a heavier lift every week when they're sitting down, because they don't have a good frame for where certain types of events should go.

So, what I want you to think through is, what are the top most important things for you? And does your ideal week, that you have mapped where it gives zones for certain types of things, do you have those most important things accounted for? And then within the work, do you have certain zones within work hours that are designated for certain types of work that needs to be done?

I'll tell you, I actually listened to a podcast right before this live event happened, where I was facilitating this work, with Greg McKeown on the Tim Ferriss podcast. It was so good. It was just right in line; it was crazy that it was released right before I was walking into this event, a day or two before.

Listening to him talk about remembering what's most important to him, and how he can honor that, and not just say it; he actually does spend time on the things that are most important to him; it was great. One of the things I most appreciated from the episode was him talking about how people think of their priorities as there are some things that are maybe 1x important, and then there's 2x important kinds of things, and then there's 3x important kinds of things.

And how he has realized, over time, that it's not 1x, 2x and 3x. There are 1x things, there's 10x things, and there's 1,000x things. That the scale of the most important, in terms of the weight of importance, is so great with those things that you've said are the most important things, that it deserves to be heavily separated from the other stuff.

And listening to his story… You should listen to it. It brought tears to my eyes hearing him talking about taking his daughter to go on her mission. And that when he was driving her, he got all of this anxiety that kicked in about ‘oh, my gosh, have I shown up in the way I should have shown up? Have we done the things that we should have done? I'm getting ready to lose her to the world.’ That's what he felt like. ‘Have I been intentional with this relationship? Did I screw this up?’ To hear him talk about it was really refreshing, because he's probably more intentional than anyone you or I have ever met. And, he's having anxieties about this.

That's when he realized that he has to give so much weight to the things that are most important, and if he doesn't account for those things, what is he doing? I know that we all, in conversation, can say that we agree with that. But when I look at someone's calendar, and I see how they spend their time, it doesn't line up with number one, and then number two, and then number three, priorities.

It shows me, your calendar and how you spend your time, tells a story of where you put your importance. I think we could all use a dose of a check-in on what we say is most important, and is there space designated for that, so that it makes it really easy for us to line ourselves up? Is there space for you to be present for those things?

Now, I'm not going to keep talking about, on this episode, your personal world. But what is likely for many of you listening, top priority number one and number two, if it's not your law firm, just take it into account. Make sure that you're giving it space. Make sure that your template that you use to calendar honors the fact that's number one and number two.

Let's go to number three, if in fact your company, your law firm is the third priority, wherever that falls, let's turn to that priority of your law firm. When you think about your ideal week, and the template that you set up within your work hours, the zones that you have set for certain types of work, people push out what is most important inside of the firm.

If you don't know what's most important, so it's easy to lean on billable work, the legal work, you need to stop and ask yourself what is the most important. The truth is, the legal work is going to get done. And you depending on where you are with all of it, you may need to give a significant portion of your time to it. Maybe you don't, I don't know where you are, you do.

But what is not in people's templates, that should be, is time, like owner time, owner focus. I think the reason it gets kicked out is because many people do not know what to put there. I mean, they have ideas on what they probably should put there. But they're not teed up to be able to do that stuff very easily or very well, they might not have their numbers.

Like, if they know they want to review financials, but they don't really have a bunch of financials to review, they don't have any data, they don't have KPIs. Then it can feel like, of course, you push it out and replace it with stuff that you know exactly what you're supposed to do, which is the legal work.

So I want to encourage each of you, within the work hours, the priorities there. What is most important? You are the owner. Someone needs to take care of this firm. And even if you don't know exactly what to do to show up as a great owner, to be sort of a next level business owner, you can learn that stuff. But you have to start showing up for it. You have to start carving out space for it.

With your weekly template, where is your owner time? And how much of it are you giving? And is it appropriate for the firm that you have? And how much time are you spending on key projects that need to be implemented for members and clients? They are called “Rocks.” They do have Rocks time on their calendar.

Every week, they sit down and they put into that Rock time, that zone, they put exactly what they're supposed to get done within their Rocks. So what do you need to designate zones for that you're not? Most people just fly at their wee, and if they are going to make a good plan, it's heavy, heavy, heavy around legal work. It's heavier on things that aren't going to move the needle for the business.

And so, what do you need to do? What do you need to calendar? What do you need to designate that isn't currently being designated? And listen, even if you aren't sure what to put in those slots, that is what you learn. That's what I do. That's what I teach people. There's other people out there that teach you what to focus on and when, and the nuances of how to think through some of these things. Don't get in your own way just because you don't know what to focus on.

Even if you do know what to focus on, here's what I know for sure. Most of you do not have enough owner time on your calendar, it's not designated. So then, week to week, you spend less time than what you want to spend, and you can chalk it up to whatever reasons you want to. But it's a lack of intentionality.

So, let this episode be a reset button for you, that not only… Because yes, this is about setting up your weekly designation of zones for types of things that need to happen in your world, and creating that template for your calendar. But in order to do that well, it is about understanding and getting honest about what are your priorities. What are the top three things that you are devoted to, that nothing else matters if these three things aren't dealt with? That you aren't showing up for them.

Like, if you don't show up for these things it might be a problem, it might be a real problem. What are those things? Make sure that you have zones designated for them in your weekly template for your calendar. And that's personal, and work. And then, within work, what are the most important things that need space?

Think through this for yourself. Because if you do this work, it makes Monday Map, week to week, so much easier. It makes you being intentional, week to week, so much easier. Because you've teed up space for what you said is most important to you. So, it's just you lining up with your truth.

And listen, no matter where you are with Monday Map/Friday Wrap, if it's something that you downloaded… It's a resource you could download from our site. It's very thorough PDF that walks you through how to be intentional with your time, and get more done in less time, and line yourself up with priorities, etc.

And if you have felt stuck with that on your own, then just do this. It's prep step number one, which is create your ideal week template. And just do that step, and use this episode to make sure you're thinking through it as thoroughly as you need to. That's it, make that your progress towards Monday Map this week.

Then, next week, you can do prep step number two, and then the week after that you can do prep step number three, and eventually you can get into Monday Map. It's more important that you make progress than anything else.

I think that without support some people feel a little overwhelmed with the Monday Map process. And listen, I understand that, I do. This stuff is simple, but it's not easy. And having support makes a huge difference. And if you're not in a space where you're interested or want to, it's just not the right time for you to join us in order to have the support with this stuff, then at least sit down and just make a commitment that you're going to show up once a week and you're going to take a step.

And now, here, hopefully, with this episode you have a way to do a really great job, a deeper job than you might have otherwise, with prep step number one, which is creating your ideal week. It comes down to what is the most important stuff to focus on. Because there's so much pulling at our attention all the time you have to protect against that.

I've said this often before, when I'm talking to members and clients, and I just said it earlier today to another member, no one is going to give you this, you have to take it. So, what are you going to do to start to take the reins here? No one's just going to give you a bunch of bandwidth to focus on this stuff. That's not how this works.

You're going to have to help yourself with this. You're going to have to take the reins. You're going to have to designate some time. You're going to have to say, “Okay, I'm going to show up one turtle step at a time.” And this is the first turtle step that you can take, if you feel stuck in any way with Monday Map. Just start here. Do this.

Really think through your weekly template, and does it support what you say is the most important? That's what you need to create. And once you create that, it's going to make Monday Map so much easier, so much easier in the future.

Alright, everybody. Have a wonderful week. I'll see you here next Tuesday, probably with some more Monday Map stuff. Because, as I've learned, this is where the rubber meets the road.

You can have all the numbers you want, you can have all the goals, all the Rocks named, you can have a good team, but if you don't have this right, if you don't have control and you aren't intentional over your own schedule, and you weren't focused with your minutes, and your hours and your days, then none of the rest of it matters.

It's just not going to happen. You're going to flame up and flame out. You're going to have to start over. There's going to be inefficiency on your path to getting bigger things done. Why? For what? Because we didn't want to stop to get intentional?

This is the path. This is what you need to do for yourself, I'm telling you. I've worked with hundreds, probably at this point thousands, I don't even know. But certainly hundreds of business owners, and many of those are law firm owners.

This is not something that is going to change. You're not going to be able to get away from this. If you want to be intentional, these are the kinds of things you have to focus on. If you want some support with these kinds of things, come on in. Get involved in Velocity Work, schedule a consult through our website. Get involved, me and my entire team would love to support you. That is what we live for. That is what makes us tick. That's what makes us smile. That's what keeps our energy up during our meetings and during our planning.

You know what I was just about to say? You deserve it. But here's what I really believe. I believe you're worth it. Do I believe you deserve it? Here's what I believe about that. I believe that people get what they deserve. If you show up, if you put yourself in the right scenarios, if you work at it, if you, more than anything, just keep showing up, yeah, then yeah, you deserve it.

But it's to those, the people who do put in the work, and the interest and they keep showing up, they deserve it. Are you worth it? Yes. Do you deserve it? I don't know, only you can answer that.

All right, everybody. Sit down and do this work. It will change your life. Even if you feel like you're good at Monday Map. People, last week, thought they were good at Monday Map and this changed the game for them. It's going to tee up their whole world very differently. So, do it for yourself.

Alright, talk to you later. Bye.

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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