Small firm lawyers who make an effort to find time for themselves are more productive and are less stressed by their law practices.
Many lawyers do not understand the value of their free time. From a professional perspective, taking time off will help you be more productive, focus longer and avoid stress.
As a small firm lawyer, you have more work to do than lawyers employed at a firm because you’re forced to wear so many hats. However, success is more than just getting new clients and winning cases. Finding personal satisfaction in life helps you perform your best at work.
Here are five simple ways successful small firm lawyers find time for themselves so they don’t suffer from burnout:
They wake up early
If you’re not already an early riser, then you should consider becoming one to give yourself more personal time before you start the day. This is especially important for lawyers who have families.
Getting up 30 minutes before your spouse and children will give you time to do the things that make you happy before you’re bogged down with the needs of everyone else. Maybe you like starting the day with some exercise or the morning paper. Do whatever you want, but make sure it’s something that’s for you.
Try to resist the urge to immediately check your email or jump into client work first thing in the morning. You need a few moments for yourself in order to be truly productive for the rest of the day.
They close their door (for part of the day)
It can be difficult to concentrate when your family members are walking into your home office or your colleagues are drifting in for a chat. Sometimes you need to close your door to send a “do not disturb” message to your spouse or peers.
Whether you work from home or in a shared law office space, you must block off a period of time during the day to really tackle your to-do list. It’s your time to buckle down and focus on what needs to get done so you will have more free time later on.
Although closing your door will help prevent distractions, try not to get in the habit of doing it all the time–especially in a shared office space. You don’t want to jeopardize your referral potential by acting reclusive and not engaging with other lawyers.
Letting people come into your office for conversation is good for your networking and it will help you feel less isolated. It’s healthy to have social time during the work day, but it’s also important to create a balance.
They actually take a lunch break—outside
A lot of lawyers tend to pick up lunch and eat it at their desks so they can keep working. While this might seem like a productive choice, it actually does more harm than good.
According to researcher Anders Ericsson, the best workers are able to focus 90 minutes at a time. After that, they take a break to recharge, which improves their ability to produce more high-quality work in a shorter period of time.
You need a break from your regular routine in order to relieve stress and clear your head. You won’t be able to produce your best work if you try to power through your day without stopping.
Technology is great for increasing efficiencies; however, it can also be a big source of distractions. You lose a lot of time when you’re checking your email every ten minutes or scrolling through social media.
Additionally, when you leave work, make sure you actually leave work. Technology makes it easy for lawyers to work on-the-go, but eventually you have to stop answering client emails or going back to your laptop finish one more thing. It’s been proven that people who are “always on” are less productive.
Designate a block of time during the day for technology-free activities like reading a book or journaling. One suggestion is to force yourself to shut off all electronic devices an hour or two before bed because studies show that the light from screens promotes wakefulness.
They make plans—with themselves
It’s common for lawyers to skip out on activities that make them happy in order to get more work done. However, you should take those appointments you make with yourself as seriously as you take appointments you make with clients.
You might tell yourself that you don’t NEED to do some activities and they are just “extra” pursuits you were going to do if you had time. This isn’t true. It’s critical to your success to do the things that bring you joy and satisfaction.
Every day do one activity that you love. If you’ve marked an art opening on your calendar or signed up for a yoga class, then make sure you go no matter what. Even if you’re done with work and tired from your day, resist the urge to go home. You’ll feel a lot better after doing something you enjoy.
As a busy professional, it can be difficult to carve out more time in your day for yourself, but you need those moments away from your day-to-day obligations to refocus. In fact, many people consider the secret to success to be doing less and relaxing more. Remember that time for yourself is never a waste of time.