As appeared on LinkedIn, July 19, 2023.
“The stress of having so many bosses, so little time, and few resources is getting to me.”
I spent time the other day speaking with a brand new CMO and offered some advice it has taken me years to learn. It may not be suitable for everyone, but if a pearl works for you…
Put it down on paper. If you are overloaded write your long to-do list on paper or type it into a document. Get the stressors out of your mind and onto paper, and you will be better able to visualize what you have ahead of you. Once you do that, you’ll be better positioned to plan your priorities and consider tasks you can delegate.
Don’t look at the long to-do list every single day. Rather each day, take a few things, three to five is what I usually recommend to my clients, put those on a small notepad, and focus on accomplishing just those. If there is time after accomplishing those, you can always go back to your longer list.
On Fridays, review your past week. Were there things that others could have helped you with? Were there projects that could be done better, more efficiently and more effectively? By looking back, you’ll be able to tell and move ahead differently for next week.
If you are structuring a new group, avoid too many direct reports. It’s a road to burnoutdom. The rule of seven says that you will be more productive if you can have seven or fewer. I believe that as well.
Avoid silos of information within your marketing organization and the firm. Some of the most significant stressors I see when working with law firms come when one area doesn’t know what the other is doing. The friction (aka complaints) from lawyers and your own staff are generally issues that could have been mitigated by breaking down silos. By creating processes to keep workflows going and putting good communications in place, you can avoid a tremendous number of problems.
In addition to real getaways, take mini-breaks, even during the day. A walk outside or a trip down the block to grab a coffee can increase endorphins, get your brain cells moving and release some of the pressure. It will also help you think more clearly when you return to the office.
Learn to say no. One year, I spent several weekends on the phone with a particularly brilliant (yet challenging) lawyer. By the time May rolled around, I realized I was absent from three-holiday celebrations with my family. To some degree, it was my fault for not drawing the line.
Keep your brain refreshed with new ideas. Be active in industry organizations, for me that means the Legal Marketing Association – LMA International and the International Bar Association, and listen to programs and podcasts on topics you love, even if they don’t relate to your career.