In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, solo lawyer Joleena Louis shares how she lowers stress and stays productive when work becomes overwhelming.
One of the most difficult aspects of being a solo is balancing working on your practice while working in it. It has also been called the three-headed monster: servicing client matters, dealing with firm admin and finding time for marketing.
In addition to that, if you practice litigation, things can get downright crazy when you have multiple trials or hearing going on at the same time.
That’s that chaos of my life right now. But despite having an overwhelming to do list, I’m still able to keep my life and business under control by using these techniques:
1. Do a brain dump.
When I’m completely overwhelmed I like to take 15 minutes and write a master list of everything I think I need to do. For some reason, seeing everything listed out in one place makes it easier to digest and therefore tackle. Also, this helps me free up mental space. Now I don’t have to remember what needs to be done, by writing it down, I won’t need to think about it anymore.
2. Build a minimum List.
After writing everything down, I go through that list and highlight the things I need to get done right now. I don’t give as much attention to everything else, those tasks can wait until things calm down. Having a plan to deal with the essential tasks absolutely helps to reduce stress and for me, brings calm to the chaos.
3. Hire help.
Times like these are when I turn to my virtual assistant to handle things I don’t have time to deal with. This could be scheduling appointments, returning calls, or even having my groceries delivered.
You could also enlist the help of a freelance lawyer. These per diem lawyers can help your firm with legal work, not just general admin tasks. The right relationship with a freelancer can lead your firm to increase its profits, decrease stress and get your life back.
4. Get enough sleep.
I cannot emphasize this enough. When I have a lot to do, it’s easy to cut back on sleep to get more done. But when I do that, I’m not as sharp and don’t have the energy to be as efficient as I am when I get a full night’s sleep. So when I am extra busy and stress is high, I make sleep a priority. You’d be surprised at how much of an impact that extra few hours of sleep can have.
When running a solo practice there are always going to be times when your workload becomes overwhelming. But if you have a plan of action and prioritize, you can get through it without burning out.