It is no secret that attorneys work long, exhausting hours. They feel pressure from both their work responsibilities and themselves, as the desire to succeed can take precedent over most things. While the work you do is important, it is also important to remember to take care of yourself to best serve your clients and (of course) you. The following are a few tips to ensure you are living a balanced and healthy life.
As an attorney, it is common to feel the need and pressure to constantly “put out fires.” Whether from time sensitive tasks, emergencies or pop-up tasks, work life can become a blur and sidetrack you from the other important tasks at hand. Putting out these fires everyday can wear you down and result in more frustration and stress. It can also lead you to forget about the true reason why you decided to get into law. Instead of subconsciously fighting these stressful and seemingly never-ending tasks, the book Coaching for Attorneys: Improving Productivity and Achieving Balance by Cami McLaren suggests developing a more proactive mindset. This more efficient mentality allows you to prepare and plan, or “fireproof” your projects.
In his book Total Workday Control Using Microsoft Outlook, Michael Linenberger recommends only looking at your email during designated times throughout the day. By not checking it for longer periods of time, you are better able to focus on the tasks at hand without distractions. You are less likely to get overwhelmed, but can rather focus on one task at a time without falling out of the loop.
The GTD or “getting things done” method is an effective time management tool for attorneys. It aims to relieve the stress and anxiety caused by the long list of daily to-do items that many attorneys face. In David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, he recommends that it is crucial to get rid of the unimportant tasks through delegation or turning it into an action item. Once you declutter your mind with this “stuff,” you can actually complete them one by one with less stress.
Eat the Bigger Frog
Don’t worry; this is just an expression. Mark Twain once said that, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” This relates perfectly to the workforce. By tackling the most daunting task on your to-do list first, you can rest assured for the remainder of the day that you accomplished something big.
So, what is your “frog?” Everyone has one on their to-do list. Be it the appointment you need to schedule, the deposition you need to file or the brief you need to write, you are ridding your mind of the emotional stress of having not completed a big task by getting it out of the way as soon as possible.
Plan, Plan, Plan
Do not put off writing up your daily plan. Instead, dedicate the last 15 minutes of your day to write down your prioritized to-do list for the next morning. This eliminates the morning step of deciding which tasks to tackle first.
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