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Get More Time Back by Following the Tom Hanks Rule

As solo attorneys we always find ourselves overloaded with work and struggling to find a good work/life balance. We can’t seem to get off the hamster wheel of our practices. In good part this is because we have a hard time saying No to things; but we have to.

You Say Yes a Lot Because . . .

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when someone asks you to do something (or wants to retain you for a case). You might get into the habit of saying yes because you want to be helpful, or you’re worried that if you say No to a potential client, that may be the last chance for the whole month.

It’s important to remember that:

  • You don’t have to work with every client; you can focus on the clients you enjoy working with.
  • You don’t have to spend time on tasks you hate; toy can delegate that.
  • You don’t have to work 60-70 hour weeks if you don’t want to; you can spend time on personal pursuits that spark joy.

The Tom Hanks Rule

If you find yourself repeatedly that situation, you need to start following “The Tom Hanks Rule.” What is that? Simply put,

Every time you say yes to something you don’t really want, you’re actually saying no to the things you do.

Do you really want to say no to things you enjoy? Of course not! So why not start saying No to things you don’t. The problem is, that can be hard to do because you don’t want to disappoint people, or you suffer from FOMO if you say No.

But the truth is, most adults are capable of hearing no. At best, they don’t think twice about it. At worst, they are disappointed for a short time, and then they get over it.

How Do You Say No Effectively?

In an article in Inc. magazine, psychologist and best-selling author Nicole LePera shared a great five-word formula for saying No:

Appreciation + the no + well wishes

The article gives several examples.

“Thank you so much for thinking of me (appreciation). I actually don’t have time in my schedule right now (the no). I know it will be a great event (well wishes).”

“Thanks for sharing what you’re up to (appreciation). Right now, I’m not in the market for [this product] (the no). I wish you the best with this (well wishes).”

“I love that you’re passionate about this (appreciation). I won’t be able to make it (the no). Let me know how it goes, though; I know you’ll crush it (well wishes).”

Give this a try (and rehearse it a little in the mirror). You will find that you will have more time in your day to do what matters most for you!

Need More Help Managing Your Time?

Get more information on how to regain control of your time by downloading my free book, The Ulitimate Guide to Taking Back Your Time.

Want great business and professional practice tips in your inbox every week? Then subscribe to my newsletter!

How about more personalized assistance? Then click on this link to schedule a call with me. We can discuss your situation and then set up a free one hour coaching call.

Finally, for more comprehensive information on how to transform your solo practice, you can also get a copy of my bookGetting Off the Hamster Wheel.

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Steven J. Richardson

Comment (1)

  1. Reducing Interruptions and Increasing Efficiency with a POPP List – Richardson Consulting Group
    August 18, 2023

    […] Get More Time Back by Following the Tom Hanks Rule […]

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