Refocusing “on the Fly”

As the saying goes, the best laid plans… Change is part of our everyday existence as litigation consultants, especially in our world of keeping up with lawyers. We’re down in the chain of command, thus, when things change for our clients, they change for us. Just today, a lawyer calles about a change in his trial date (the 3rd or 4th change actually) so we have to adjust to the changes he faces. Today is also a day for which we had plans – a list of things to accomplish. Guess what, the phone rang. Emails arrived. The original plans changed. Sometimes, a day feels like constantly shifting gears as we are forced to react even if we would prefer to be proactive. Something that I’ve noticed in myself, and in some others, is that reacting to change takes a minute, or two. Just like pressing the clutch prepares the car to change gears, sometimes humans must catch their breath long enough to refocus their attention. As a wildlife photographer, I often have to refocus when a bird flies off its perch or a different critter arrives in a scene when I’m working with a particular bird or animal. Fortunately, auto focus cameras do some of this work for me, but changing one’s attention from subject A, to subject B or even subject C and back again in a short time can scramble the brain and break concentration in non productive ways. Taking a deep breath, or consciously redirecting one’s focus by looking out the window or something similar can help in those refocus or transition points. Stand up, get a drink of water or coffee, then get back into the concentration zone. Not accepting the reality of the impact of fast paced change and trying to “muscle through” can result in wasted time and critical errors.

David and I have written about the need for flexibility in our world of work in prior posts.  Flexibility, and along with it, the willingness to change plans on a moment’s notice, are job requirements for everyone who works at Magnus.  I often find it difficult to explain to the “uninitiated” about why I never know, with 100% certainty, what my schedule will be.  For example, David and I were planning a long weekend getaway to celebrate his birthday.  The first thing I do, when we are planning to go out of town, is contact our cat sitter.  If she is unavailable, David and I stay home, thus, it is important to check with her before we purchase airline tickets, etc.  In this recent example, no sooner did David and I devise a plan, arrange for the cat sitter to stay with our dear Rex, etc. than a client contacted us about a change in his trial date that conflicted with our plans for a fun weekend.  (I’m pretty talented, but I can’t be in two places at the same time!)  After this happened, David and I were invited to co-host an important event in a third location.  We accepted this invitation, even though it conflicted with our client’s jury selection, in case the trial date changed for what would be the 4th time.  I tried to explain this to the cat sitter when I cancelled her visits for the time we had planned to be out of town for David’s birthday and she replied that she dislikes “wishy washy” people.  I told her that, as it concerns my client’s jury selection, it is the judge, not the attorney, who can’t seem to decide when to begin the trial!  After all the back and forth on planning for the jury selection, guess what?  The trial was postponed, again!  But now it is too late to plan a trip for David’s birthday.  The good news is that we are available to co-host the big event (I’ll save the news of the event for David to write about in another post.)  Instead of being frustrated with everyone and everything as it pertains to our constantly moving schedule, David and I have learned to be happy we have so many exciting things to do!

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