Quarantine Your Best Ideas

Many of the attorneys I work with suffer from the same thing I do: Shiny Shiny Syndrome.  You suffer from S3 when you regularly give in to an overwhelming urge to start working on something new and better, instead of wrapping up your current projects.

Shiny Shiny Syndrome isn’t (usually) fatal, but the cumulative results of constantly starting projects at the expense of finishing others can have a debilitating impact upon your practice and your staff.

To combat my case of Shiny Shiny Syndrome, I’ve begun an Idea Quarantine.  From Wikipedia:

Quarantine is compulsory isolation, typically to contain the spread of something considered dangerous, often but not always disease. The word comes from the Italian (seventeenth century Venetian) quarantena, meaning forty-day period.[1] Quarantine can be applied to humans, but also to animals of various kinds.

Whenever I have a great idea for a project, I capture it so I don’t lose it, but then I wait at least 90 days before I begin working on it.  The “compulsory” waiting period keeps me from starting work on a poorly-formed idea I’ll later lose passion for.  It also gives me time to think about the idea and socialize it with friends and colleagues.  If I’m still enamored with the idea once the 90 days have passed, it goes on my “To Do” list.

If you’d like to begin your own Idea Quarantine, and want a fun template to use, here’s my Idea Quarantine. pdf from above.

3 Responses to Quarantine Your Best Ideas
  1. Susan Gainen
    January 8, 2012 | 5:55 pm

    Matt — what a great idea, especially for those of us who brainstorm-on-steroids, and then want to race out the door and start on the project right this minute.

    Your quarantine is the equivalent of having thoughtful colleagues who will grab you by the metaphorical scruff of the neck and say “don’t hit send.”

  2. Mark
    January 9, 2012 | 1:58 pm

    thought provoking post – I enjoy a lot of what you write. I think this idea is a really useful safeguard but (you knew there was a but, right?) in my experience there are far more lawyers who procrastinate or sit on the fence than there are who have the 3S problem. Given the speed of change in the market and how rapidly client needs are changing, I would imagine that for plenty of lawyers, a 90 day quarantine could be the excuse they need to put a good idea on the back burner, and then 91 days later point out it’s too late because someone else has already done it!

    • Matt Homann
      January 9, 2012 | 3:21 pm

      Agreed, but for those with 3S, I think it is a useful tool. Thanks for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://www.nonbillablehour.com/2012/01/quarantine-your-best-ideas.html/trackback