Jay Ruane has been practicing law in Connecticut since 1998, and over the past few decades has always been eager to give back and share new solutions with the legal community. He’s written legal marketing books like “Tiger Tactics”, aided lawyers with their social media marketing strategies through his company FirmFlex and now this summer is launching a new product that is likely to fill a significant need for many of those running growing law firms.
finilize is a one of a kind daily automated accountability coach. which leverages SMS technology to send its users reminder alerts throughout the day, and make sure tasks actually get completed.
How does it work? Every night at 8 p.m. users are sent a link which asks them to put together a list of six tasks they want to complete the next day. That next morning, users are sent a message with their first three tasks to accomplish. They then receive a check-in message from finilize later that morning. In the afternoon, users are sent another text with their remaining three tasks to accomplish, followed by another check-in message just before the work day ends. The graphic below from the finilize website showcases the five alerts the product provides for its users over the course of 24 hours.
To learn more about this new product, we reached out to founder Jay Ruane with some questions. Here’s our conversation:
Answering Legal: Where did the idea for finilize originate from?
Jay Ruane: Last spring, during the COVID lockdown in Connecticut, I was at home with three kids trying to remote school, and a fourth who was four years old and into everything. Working was tough for any long stretch, and I was constantly forgetting to accomplish things that could help my firm survive COVID, because I was constantly putting out fires every day. I told my brother that I needed someone to “stay on me” and remind me to get things done. Writing lists was good, but I needed reminders and someone or something to hold me accountable. We figured tech could help us – and finilize was born!
AL: Why do lawyers need finilize in their lives?
Jay: Too many lawyers struggle with balancing working in and on their business, and oftentimes, the things that make our firms grow take a back seat to the pressing needs of clients. finilize allows you to be held accountable daily to do little (or big) things that will move your firm forward and most importantly, won’t take a day off or get sick. It’s there every day reminding you to get stuff done.
AL: What separates finilize from other task reminder products?
Jay: It’s not an app you can avoid opening or a paper list you have at your desk but leave there. It’s tied into SMS messaging on your phone – and none of us are more than an arms length from our phones anymore. Add to that the 98% of SMS messages are opened within three minutes of receipt and you have a way to get your things to do and accountability checks without barriers.
AL: Is this a product you use?
Jay: I’m the original beta user. We never thought of this as a product for mass appeal, it was simply a way for me to get better. But, when I started sharing what it was with others I kept hearing “I need that”. So we rewrote the software to allow for some improvements and allow us to scale it to others.
AL: I’m sure you get some people who are resistant to adopting a product like this and say they have their own way of doing things and like having paper notes. What is your message to these people?
Jay: Do what works for you. I know for me, I could write down thousands of things I need to do, but only when I had someone checking on me and pushing me to get them done, was I able to accomplish them. I am a bit of a procrastinator, especially when it’s things I don’t love doing or want to do right now, but by tasking myself and then having finilize stay on me, I get more done now than ever before.
AL: With finilize, users are sent three of their tasks to complete in the morning, and three in the afternoon. Why might a system like this produce better results rather than having one big checklist for the day?
Jay: It’s almost impossible to see a huge list and not freeze. You don’t know where to start and that paralysis can cause you to avoid all tasks at hand. finilize breaks down the important things and delivers them to you in manageable chunks, then checks to make sure you are working on them.
AL: Are users at all limited in what types of tasks they put into the finilize system?
Jay: Nope, and that is one of the benefits. On Friday nights I put in what I want to accomplish with my family on the weekends. I use one of my slots for reminder for end of day meditation. You choose what you want to do. Some finilize customers focus 100% on personal growth items while others focus on client work needs or business needs. You can do whatever you want.
AL: What type of feedback have you been getting from lawyers who have used the product so far?
Jay: So many have said that the accountability check is the critical component that is making a difference. It’s like having a personal trainer for your work needs, guiding you, encouraging you and making sure you take those decisive steps forward.
AL: How long does it take lawyers to set finilize up on their phone?
Jay: You can be up and running in under two minutes. Since all you need to do is sign up on finilize.com, then we text you what you need to do which is simply confirming your cell number – everything else is handled by the tech.