Virtual office NYC lawyer, Vivian Sobers, left home base in New York for a short trip and found productivity and work-life balance while on the road.
Something came up with my apartment that required me to vacate it for a bit. I decided to turn the inconvenience into an opportunity to get out of town.
As my colleagues in New York brace themselves for more single digit temperatures and another winter storm, I’m luxuriating in a much warmer climate. Well, maybe not luxuriating, more like couch surfing at the homes of friends and family who live in warmer climates.
I will take some vacation time while on this trip, but for the most part, I plan to work.
Interestingly, I’m discovering that I have been much more productive while travelling. I have even begun to find some semblance of work-life balance; something I have struggled with lately.
Before leaving I thought the opposite would be true.
I’m on the road a lot going from destination to destination (five cities, two coasts). Sofa cushions do not make for the most restful night’s sleep, and I don’t have a dedicated work space (a coffee table has been the best so far).
And apparently, no one keeps a decent printer at home anymore (at least not one suitable to print out thick stack of motion papers).
I was thinking about my new-found productivity and work-life balance and how I might be able to keep it going once I return home. Here’s what I came up with:
I’m not going to court every day.
Often at times I’m just getting back to my office from court when most people are finishing their work day. But I still have hours of paper processing to complete for the next day.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being in court. In fact, going to court is my favorite thing about being a lawyer and it’s one of the things I miss the most about being away.
But to get away I was forced to hire coverage for the few appearances that I couldn’t adjourn, and I’m finding that I’m enjoying the extra time this has created.
Intellectually, I know that I don’t need to personally handle every appearance. But I do it anyway, perhaps for emotional reasons, perhaps because I’m too “thrifty” to pay for coverage.
But this trip has highlighted the cost of giving up personal time in order to personally be at every appearance.
I have had mostly bad luck with hired help so far, but it’s something I need to reconsider back in New York.
My hosts have kept me on a schedule.
At home, there’s no one telling me to stop working. My boyfriend, Mr. MacBook Pro, just taunts me to work more hours.
But I’ve been cohabiting with people who have regular jobs. They go to work at a certain time, and they are home the same time every day. When they leave their jobs, their work for the day is done.
While I’m not waxing nostalgic for a 9-to-5 (I don’t think I could go back to having a boss at this point), the discipline of having a regular schedule has been good for me.
The friend who I am currently staying with leaves work by 4:00 P.M. When he gets home he wants to eat dinner, maybe socialize with friends or just unwind with some TV (we’ve been geeking out on Star Wars the last few days).
He expects that if I am going to sleep on his sofa that I will participate with him in these activities.
This daily deadline has forced me to be very focused with my work during the day because I know that when my friend gets home, if I don’t stop working, he’ll just turn off the WiFi in the house.
Implementing a schedule, even if self-imposed, may be something to think about when I get home.
Getting out of my daily work environment gave me a fresh perspective.
There’s so much stuff to do;I frequently don’t know where to start first. Sometimes I get completely paralyzed and end up wasting hours doing nothing.
Just removing myself from that environment and working in a completely different place has been good for me. I feel like I can think more clearly, work with more focus.
All those things on my To Do list still need to get done. It’s just that I don’t have the physical reminder of them staring me in the face all day. That has been liberating.
When I get home, I am going to better organize my work space and make a point to get out of my office when I feel paralyzed by it.
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Vivian Sobers is a commercial litigator pursuing a solo law practice right out of law school. She is a client in Law Firm Suites’ Virtual Office Program. Vivian’s weekly blog series “Young, Hungry and Committed” documents the trials and tribulations of a young attorney navigating her way through the challenging world of self-employed legal practice.