Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

Key to making better business decisions: slow down

By Chris Green on Jul 12 2010 • Filed under Chris Green's Legal Basics

The theme of this month’s edition is "work/life balance." It's something I've heard about but never really experienced, since the paper chase known as the “practice of law” has always been accompanied by punishing work hours and a workaholic mindset.

So, in order to research the topic properly I treated myself to a week of R&R last month. As is traditional for my vacations, I chose a remote location (Baranof Island on the Alaska Panhandle) in the expectation that there would be no Internet or cell phone availability. I do this every vacation since I find that, unless I can completely and forcibly disconnect from the firm, my mind never really leaves the office

According, I was dismayed to find that cell phone coverage has intruded even into the Alaskan wilderness, and that my fishing buddies had all brought their iPhones and remained hopelessly plugged-in to their homes and offices throughout the entire week. It was positively painful watching one of my companions trying to land a large fish while talking on his cell phone trying to explain to the caller that no, he couldn't return the rental video before 5:00 p.m. because he was in a small open boat off the coast of Alaska.

The incident caused me to reflect upon the consequences of our current obsession with being plugged-in and online at all times and at all costs. At a very basic level, it is manifested by our seeming inability to not use our cell phone while driving. I haven't yet been consulted by anyone who has received a $186 ticket for the crime of distracted driving, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time. Perhaps the knowledge that insurance defense counsel are now starting to issue subpoenas for cell phone records (in order to lay blame for collisions) will cause a few people to turn off their cells, but I'm probably being an optimist.

At a more serious level however, it seems to me that so many of the legal problems which I am called upon to untangle on a daily basis have their genesis in actions taken in haste or decisions made on the fly, without adequate information or analysis. I've had business clients teeter on the brink of disaster when important documents weren't read, only because they were too large to view on a Blackberry, and I struggle daily, with garbled instructions badly typed, or should I say, thumbed, by clients on the fly. Last week, a client hurriedly hit "Reply All" and ended up sending his confidential instructions to me, along with an uncomplimentary remark about the opposition, to the other side as well as myself.

My conclusion is that haste not only makes waste, it can also make litigation. Not every business or personal decision needs to be made quickly. Indeed, most decision-making can profit from a period of reflection. I make it a point to set aside important emails and faxes for at least a day, and often longer, and I urge my clients to do likewise.

Frequently, I refuse to take instructions from a client on a major matter immediately after I've laid out the options, requiring instead that the client "sleep on it" before making a decision.

I think that a far greater crime than" driving while distracted " is "having care and control of a business while distracted." How to avoid committing the crime? Accept that slowing down and stepping away from the business every now and then may be a key to sharpening your focus and making better decisions.

(Editor's Note: For tips on how to create work/life balance, see Heather Townsend's article, "Achieve work/life balance in 16 steps.")




  1. Achieve work/life balance in 16 steps - | Entrepreneurial Woman Magazine

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