< back to articles listings

High Value vs Low Value

by Erik Mazzone |

I have a friend who is deeply involved in the world of what is commonly known as “awards travel”. This is the term that is given to a set of behaviors that involves strategically opening, using, and closing multiple credit cards (“churning”) that give users award or travel points in exchange for using the card. Devotees of awards travel tweak the way they use their cards to maximize the value received from their “spend” in the form of travel points. 

The reason people like me get sucked into awards travel is that you can amass, via churning, outsized amounts of awards points in a pretty short time frame. You can then use those points to fly for free to exotic locations. There’s more to it than that, but that is the gist of it.

There is a lot of debate among these points & miles afficionados about what constitutes a good vs a poor use of these points when booking travel. Generally, booking hotels is considered a poor use of points (meaning, the points could have been used in a higher rate of exchange in some other way), while using the points to purchase business class, transatlantic flights (“TATL”) is generally believed to be the “highest and best use” of one’s points.

Leaving aside that the process of churning and awards travel is of questionable utility – its toxic combination of eye-bleeding boredom and persnickety rules is rivaled only by trying to figure out how to use a time-share week in another location, IFKYK – thinking about the highest and best use of things is actually a pretty useful thing to ponder. In particular today I’d like to encourage you to apply that analysis to your work.

It’s seductively easy over the years to allow yourself to fall into certain patterns of work each day. You order your tasks and days and weeks pretty much the same way, I am guessing, year after year. I do, too. And I can almost hear some of you saying, “if it ain’t broke…” Fair enough. Sometimes good enough is good enough. Nothing overtly wrong with keeping things the same.

But when was the last time you looked with fresh eyes on your work week, on the tasks that fill your calendar? When’s the last time you did an informal audit of your most valuable resource: your time?

You may be one of those productivity superheroes who instinctively works all day, every day on the most important tasks on your list. You may never let the urgent crowd out the important. You may always eat the frog. 

If so, you have my enduring admiration. And envy. And a little bit of irrational hatred. Nobody should be that good at stuff.

For the rest of us who do not put on a superhero cape in the morning, it’s worth looking up from your vast landscape of undone tasks and devoting a bit of time doing what I like to call a Time Value Audit.

Why bother auditing your time?

At the end of today’s workday, you will hopefully have more money, more clients, more practice, legal and business skills. But the one thing you will reliably, inescapably, have less of is time. Maybe it’s time to start treating it like its limited. And precious. Maybe it deserves to be evaluated with at least the same level thought and strategy as your credit card points.

To that end, here are a few prompts to guide you through a Time Value Audit of your own: for the next 10 days, keep a notebook next to you to record what you are working on throughout the day. Not specifically, like for billing, but just generally. For reflection.

At the end of each day, organize your various recorded tasks into blocks of work: client meetings, one on one managing meetings with staff, submitting 401k contributions, etc.

At the end of the 10-day period, take a look at your blocks of work and arrange them in order from the most to least time-consuming. Then for each of these blocks, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. Is this type of work my highest and best use?
  2. Is there anyone on my team that is currently capable of doing this work besides me?
  3. Is there anyone on my team that can be trained to be capable of doing this work?
  4. If I were not doing this now, what is the most valuable thing I could be doing for my firm now?

You can write out the answers if it helps. I find that for myself, writing out my thoughts helps to clarify my thinking, but you do you. The goal here is to come out on the other side of this Time Value Audit with some ideas and insights about places in your day where your time is being used in ways that are not the highest and best use.

It might be that the audit reveals that there are several blocks of work in your day that are not high value work for you, but you have nowhere else to shift it. If that’s the case, each one of these blocks can go into your projects list to work on, one at a time, getting shifted to a lower cost resource to accomplish that work and free up your time.

That may mean training an existing team member, exploring hiring a virtual assistant, experimenting with what generative AI can do, or just deciding that some work doesn’t need to get done right now… or at all. There ’s lots of tactics that can be used to address these blocks of work that need to shift from your list. 

If you take the time to perform the audit, analyze the places where you can shift lower value work and systematically work at finding solutions to make those shifts, you will free up your time to do the higher value work. Whether that is law firm strategy, more complex legal analysis or drafting, mentoring the next generation of attorneys in your firm, or talking to the next client in an initial consultation – you and your firm will benefit from the shifting of the work blocks so you can supercharge your value creation for the firm. 

Unlike awards travel, the Time Value Audit does not promise to be a quick fix. You can’t churn this, unfortunately. This is slow, steady, and sensible work to transform your practice and your firm. If you need some help with it, feel free to schedule a complementary practice management consultation for LML insureds. I will be happy to talk it through with you. 

After that we can work on optimizing our travel points to schedule awards flights to see the next total eclipse. See you in Iceland in 2026.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Newsletter Signup