Category Archives: The Ethical Lawyer – Legal Ethics Blog

Do, Ship, Repeat

Are you scared of uncertain or unpredictable outcomes?

Do you feel like an imposter when you’re tasked with a new and challenging project?

Are you constantly seeking reassurance that it will all be okay? 

Do you hold off on shipping your creative work? 

We often believe we need credentials to do useful or valuable work. Whether it’s having a college degree, a training certificate, or a professional license, credentials help us seem less like an imposter. But we’re all imposters on some level when we work on hard problems with no easy answers.

You might ask yourself: Why did I get picked? Why am I being charged to solve this issue? Why am I stepping up and choosing to lead or choosing to follow?

Don’t wait for reassurance or validation. Instead, hone the ability to trust yourself. You will never get enough assurance of a favorable outcome. You will never get enough approval for what you did. If you’re creating useful work, there’s no way to please everyone. Worrying about what others think is a quest for guarantees, but there are no guarantees when it comes to creative work.

Do, ship and repeat if you want to make things better with creative work. You don’t always need credentials to start.

In episode 23 of The Incrementalist podcast, you will learn:

1) What creative work is

2) You have a choice to be creative or to become a hack, a hustler, or a cog

3) The power of showing up, even when you don’t feel like it or when you have Imposter Syndrome

4) Creativity is not a talent or a gift, but is a deliberate practice that allows you build the skills to be creative

5) Why focusing on the process is more important than striving for a favorable outcome

6) Why you need to set a schedule and time block when you will take your action steps

7) Why you must set constraints and upper limits to generate better ideas and execute more quickly

8) How perfectionism holds you back and why you need to ship your work when it’s good enough for the intended audience

The Incrementalist ebook is on sale for $4.99, until June 20. After that, the regular minimum price of $9.99 will apply. You can find it at leanpub.com/incrementalist. 

Resources cited: 

To listen to episode 23, Do, Ship, Repeat, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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Effortless Productivity

Do you believe your high goals have to be hard to accomplish?

Is it bad to seek out an easier path to get the desired results?

Does life have to be challenging and complicated?

After you’ve chosen the essentials, do you still feel overwhelmed?

It’s common to believe that any problem can be solved with hard, heads-down work. While diligence and determination are elements of success, you could also seek to make essential tasks easier to do.

We tend to think that important and valuable work has to be hard. This could be writing a book, leading a team, designing a new product, running a business, or preparing a presentation. But too much effort is counterproductive when it leads to chronic stress, health problems, sleep issues, and burnout. 

You first need to decide where to focus your energy. Once you determine the essentials, how do you make them as easy as possible to do?   

Work can be effortless if you break it down into small, easy to manage chunks. It can also feel effortless if you pair it with a fun activity. 

In episode 22 of The Incrementalist podcast, you will learn three big ideas for Effortless Productivity: 

1) How to move into an Effortless State (i.e., think the most essential things can be the easiest to do). 

  • Invert
  • Enjoy
  • Release
  • Rest
  • Notice

2) How to take Effortless Action (i.e., do find the easier path)

  • Define
  • Start
  • Simplify
  • Progress
  • Pace

3) How to get Effortless Results (i.e., get the right results without burning out)

  • Learn
  • Lift
  • Automate
  • Trust
  • Prevent

4) What happens next matters most. Whatever happened in the past pales in comparison to the power you have to choose what to do now.  Instead of working harder and harder, and exhausting yourself, you can choose a more effortless path. 

5) The Incrementalist ebook is on sale for $4.99, until June 20. After that, the regular minimum price of $9.99 will apply. You can find it at leanpub.com/incrementalist

Resources cited: 

To listen to episode 22, Effortless Productivity, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

If you prefer to read, download transcript of episode 22.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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Find and Keep a Hobby You Love

How do you spend your free time? Do you have free time?

Do you practice a hobby when you break from your work, your business, your obligations, or even your passion?

When you’re not working, do you feel so tired or guilty that you can’t have fun?

A hobby is an activity you enjoy doing with little or no focus on the long game or the end results. You do it for fun or leisure in your free time. 

Your work or your business can be your passion. But even if you enjoy them, they are not your hobby. They come with risks and consequences that can affect your income, your reputation, and your status.  

A hobby and a passion can be related, but there are subtle differences between the two. A passion is a strong feeling for something you would love to do repeatedly and regularly. It could be your vocation or calling that transcends your profession or career. It is sometimes connected to your work, life goals or big dreams.

With a hobby, it’s easier to take it or leave it, depending on what’s going on in your life. When you already have a full schedule with many obligations and demands to meet, why would you add a hobby to it? If a hobby is something you can live without, why even bother having one?

In episode 21 of The Incrementalist podcast, you will learn:

1) A hobby and a passion might be connected, but are not the same

  • The difference between pursuing your passion like a profession versus like a hobby
  • The difference between a secondary, casual hobby and a primary, serious hobby

2) Why maintaining a hobby that delights you is a double-win practice for life and work

3) Hobbies fall into different categories, including –

  • exercise or movement 
  • outdoor recreation and activity
  • entertainment and information consumption 
  • collecting things
  • creative endeavors

4) The multiple reasons to find and keep a hobby you love – 

  • develops the meta skill of learning
  • enhances your creativity
  • boosts your confidence in all areas of life
  • increases patience and perseverance
  • builds resilience and willpower 
  • breaks monotony and gets you out of a rut
  • recharges your energy and refreshes you physically, mentally and emotionally 
  • centers and grounds you
  • builds connections and social bonds
  • makes you and your life more interesting
  • lets you have more fun in your life

5) How to rediscover or discover a hobby you love

6) Unnecessary creating is part of making big changes in small steps. In celebration of the 20th episode of The Incrementalist podcast, the accompanying ebook is now on sale for $4.99 (up to June 20). Check it out at leanpub.com/incrementalist

Resources cited: 

To listen to episode 21, Find and Keep a Hobby You Love, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

If you prefer to read, download transcript of episode 21.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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2021 AILA Virtual Annual Conference (June 9 – 12); Panel Speaker for Ins and Outs of Responding to and Avoiding Ethics and Bar Complaints

American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will host the 2021 AILA Virtual Annual Conference from June 9 to 12. If you’re a U.S. immigration lawyer, join your colleagues for four days of education, innovation, inspiration, and collaboration. The conference offers five main tracks with over 80 sessions.

At the June 10, 1 pm ET/12 pm CT Ethics Session on Responding to and Avoiding Ethics and Bar Complaints, I will be a panel speaker with Robert E. Juceam, AILA Past President, New York, NY, and Matthew Blaisdell, New York, NY. AILA Ethics Committee Vice Chair, Meghan Moore, Wyoming, MI, will be the moderator.

Here’s the description for the ethics session: 

In managing a law practice or representing clients, we all make decisions that are, at times, sub-optimal. Sometimes we can effectively mitigate these through our own actions, but not always. Sometimes we do the best we possibly can and still find ourselves subject to complaints from unhappy clients. These events are common and can be so stressful that they become a distraction that compounds mistakes. Panelists will attempt to destigmatize well-meaning mistakes, help immigration attorneys minimize their future risk, and effectively respond to complaints once filed.

• Activities That Give Rise to Complaints
• Management Techniques to Guard Against Complaints (Risk Prevention)
• Maintaining Well-Being in Times of High Stress
• How to Not Let a Complaint Eclipse Your Life and Work
• Understanding the Disciplinary Process and Responding to Complaints
• Risk Prevention: Using Practice Management Techniques to Guard Against Complaints

To view the full program, click here

To register for the conference, go to AILA Agora – 2021 AILA Virtual Annual Conference on Immigration Law

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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Consistency and the Compound Effect

When it comes to success, do you value intensity more than consistency? 

Are you willing to do mundane work to get the desired results? 

Or are you jumping from one new shiny thing to another for immediate gratification?

When I launched The Incrementalist podcast, I committed to making at least 10 episodes before I would allow myself to quit. No matter how I felt – excited or not, I would record and publish a minimum of 10 episodes. I have since doubled that metric. 

Intensity of effort matters, especially in the beginning of a project. But it comes in short bursts. It is fueled by excitement and passion. You ride the waves, but you don’t control them.  

You use intensity as allowed. You go faster, pick up the pace, when you can afford to, when you have high energy and strong willpower. But you can start to get overwhelmed, stressed and deflated as you power though. 

While intensity ebbs and flows, consistency is steadier and more sustainable. Even when you feel unmotivated, you can keep taking daily actions to get to where you need to be. You stack up good habits and routines and take small steps to start the project or finish it.

Daily decisions, choices and actions shape the trajectory of your life. They either lead you down a path of desire or a path of disaster. The Compound Effect formula is: small smart choices + consistency + time = radical difference 

With compounding, you reap huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. Sometimes there are no obvious wins, and just subtle shifts. Over time they add up to massive results. 

In episode 20 of The Incrementalist podcast, you will learn:

1) How the compound effect works – 

  • The Magic Pennies
  • 3 friends in a boat

2) Daily discipline is necessary to trigger the compound effect

3) Tracking your actions is critical to making choices and building habits

  • Track your behaviors to observe how you got where you are
  • Visualize or picture where you want to be
  • Track your lead metrics (inputs, actions, and things you control or influence)
  • Track your choices (cues and times of day that trigger certain behaviors)
  • Stay consistent in your actions

4) Behaviors get compounded and shape your life through this formula:

  • YOU and YOUR CHOICE + BEHAVIOR + HABIT + COMPOUNDED = GOALS

5) The power of momentum (the Big Mo)

  • Old habits are like inertia, the pull of gravity. Once you start and gain momentum, you make faster progress
  • In a rocket launch, most of the fuel is consumed in the first few minutes of acceleration. The rocket needs tons of energy to move out of the gravitational pull and into orbit. After that, it takes less fuel to keep going. 

6) Book ending your day with evening rituals and morning rituals develops daily discipline

7) Taking 100% responsibility for your choices and actions empowers you to co-create with any given situation

8) The Next Five Years question to help you determine what to stop doing and start doing

9) In celebration of the 20th episode of The Incrementalist podcast, the accompanying ebook is now on sale for $4.99 through June 20. After this date, the minimum price will be back up to $9.99. Check it out at leanpub.com/incrementalist

Resources cited: 

To listen to episode 20, Consistency and the Compound Effect, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

If you prefer to read, download transcript of episode 20.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps

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