A Toad Day (and why you need one)
Deep in the dark recesses of every professional practice is a dark and ugly secret-- a file you don’t want to deal with. You have one (or many) and so does the guy down the hall. I call this the Toad File. You know why.
There are a hundred reasons why a file becomes a Toad File-- maybe it’s beyond your depth and you hate to admit it, maybe you just have no inspiration for it, maybe you don’t like the client, maybe you seriously under-quoted, maybe you’re afraid you missed a conflict or a critical limitation, maybe it has sat unattended so long you know it will take you a day to get back to speed......
Every Friday afternoon when you plan next week, you think about the Toad File. But by Monday more important, more interesting, more urgent, more profitable, less discouraging files push their way into line ahead of the Toad File, and then Friday rolls around again and your assistant asks about the Toad File. You mumble something about next week...
You know the Toad File is going to bite you, inevitably and grievously. Which is why smart professionals hold a Toad Day once or twice a year, and they go like this: no appointments, no phone calls, no checking e-mail, no interruption. Wear your grubbies, order in pizza, reject any interruption. Put the Toad File on your desk at 0830 and don’t leave the office until you’ve conquered it.
Now, when I say “conquered it”, I’m not fantasizing that you’ll finish it. Maybe you will, but not likely if you’re in law or architecture or the like, but what I do mean is that you will have solved what needs to be done, sketched out your work plan, and made some serious inroads toward client satisfaction. Your milestones are laid out, and now you own the project, it doesn’t own you.
At this point you’re probably saying, “Norm, that’s great advice, but what does it have to do with being a successful communicator?”
Good question, and the answer is that the successful communicator in any profession must have a clear and focused mind. Trust me-- one or two Toad Days a year will go a long way to keeping your professional mind clear and focused.
So, have you scheduled a Toad Day?
Norman Bowley is a communicator by passion, a lawyer and educator by profession. Thirty-six years of legal practice after ten years as an educator have equipped Norm to teach professionals how to communicate effectively and with power.