Thriving as an attorney means sacrifice. Often, it means long hours at the office or even longer hours in negotiations, mediation, or a courtroom. But when a lawyer puts all of his or her effort into the job, at the expense of a supportive personal life, productivity suffers. Short-term gains are lost in the long-term decline of effective, efficient work – or worse, lost to permanent physical and mental burnout.
Although most attorneys understand the importance of work-life balance, many struggle to make the juggling act work in their own lives. When your productivity is at stake, however, finding a work-life balance becomes a major priority. Here are a few ways to maintain that balance and preserve your productive career:
- Make a schedule and commit to it – but don’t stick.
In order to find time for your family and social life, you must schedule these commitments with the same dedication and priority you give to your work – but to handle your work well, you must have the flexibility to address emergencies and plan your schedule so it meets your client’s needs. Although flexibility sometimes requires a rescheduling of your personal time, it should never mean descheduling.
Some of the most precious time you have to recharge occurs during your vacations. To prevent work from intruding on your vacation time, however, you’ll need to prepare thoroughly. Prepare clients for the fact that, during your vacation, they will not be able to reach you. Then, make sure your deadlines are met, your mail and phones will be addressed promptly, and that another attorney is available to handle any absolute emergencies while you are away. Finally, prepare yourself to relax, rest, and avoid checking in on work.
- Set boundaries.
Technological advancements have made it possible to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – but in fact, no human being can function at this relentless pace. Set a schedule that keeps you off your smartphone and away from work for more than just the time it takes to sleep.
It’s true that clients like and expect their attorneys to be available at all times. It’s also true that many lawyers thrive on being needed – even at 2:00 in the morning. If you’ve created an environment in which you’re “always on,” start to pull away by setting hours in which you aren’t available – and stick to them. You’ll do better work in the time remaining if you take regular breaks to recharge.
At Assigned Counsel, our experienced recruiters can help you find a law firm or legal department position that allows you to thrive at work and in your personal life. Contact us today.