Improve your work-life balance and avoid burning out by following these 5 tips!
Everything’s going great at work. You’re operating on all cylinders, moving quickly. You’re saying yes to everything, taking on all the projects, and it seems like nothing can stop you.
Until one day, it hits you like a ton of bricks. Exhaustion and stress prevail, and you’re completely fried. Let me introduce you to burnout and a poor work-life balance.
Solo and small firm lawyers are especially susceptible to burnout due to the nature of their work and the demands that come with running a law firm with little to no help. However, spending too much time alone and working too many hours is not only unhealthy, but also counterproductive.
You can improve your work-life balance and catch burnout before it happens, even if you’re a chronic overachiever! Here are five ways you can avoid getting burned out in your solo or small law firm.
1. Learn to Delegate
Solo practitioners are ambitious and we work hard. The problem is that sometimes we want to do everything ourselves.
The biggest favor you can do yourself as a solo attorney is learning how to properly delegate.
What I don’t mean by delegation is dropping a file on a clerk’s desk, shooting a random instruction with a deadline and bolting to your office to cross it off your to-do list.
Solo attorneys must delegate tasks with full and defined instructions to someone who is competent, trustworthy and dependable. If not, you are likely creating more work for yourself, and do a lot more harm than good when it comes to burnout and work-life balance.
Insomnia is one of the symptoms of burnout, and when you don’t sleep, your brain doesn’t work at 100%. Getting too little sleep also has other serious consequences, including lack of judgment and increased likelihood of stress and depression.
Getting enough sleep is crucial to your health and happiness, so don’t skimp on it, or let your work cut into those precious hours! Doctors have proven that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep nightly to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
3. Plan your Work Day and Set Boundaries
Try to work when you know you’re most productive. If you are a morning person, you might want to see whether it is better for you to have appointments in the morning, or whether it is better for you to come into the office at 5 am.
But at the same time, know that if the early evenings are when you want to be off and able to spend time with your family/friends, then work that into your daily schedule. Actually, put it on your calendar and treat it with the same respect as a meeting or consultation. This way you are making sure that time off of work is valued as highly as work itself.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
We are more productive and happier in our lives when we have a strong support system around us. So reach out to your network. Vent to a friend if you need to. Ask another solo for help with a case. Who better to understand the challenges of being a solo attorney than another solo attorney?
Having people to talk to who understand your situation helps reduce stress levels. Lawyers know they can rely on these attorney relationships when in a pinch. But always make sure that when the tide turns you’re willing to pick up the slack for those in your support system when they need it, too.
5. Just Say No!
As your practice grows, it will become more and more obvious that you simply can’t do everything. Your time and energy are sacred and you’ll have to be a better gatekeeper to who or what has access to these limited resources.
Our advice to help avoid burnout and improve your work-life balance would be to make a conscious effort to say no to anything that doesn’t make you happy or add value to your life or practice. That means turning down cases that don’t align with your ideal client, getting rid of cases that are causing stress, and turning down opportunities that don’t align with your overall focus.
And as a result, you will be greeted with most freeing feeling ever. There’s nothing better than only dealing with people and things you want to deal with; plus you’ll instantly feel like you have more control of your time!