Keeping a practice afloat amid the unique obstacles presented by 2020 created off-the-chart stress for even the most even-keeled law firm owners, especially solo and small firm practitioners.
While focusing on resolving last year’s challenges and problems, a lot of attorneys neglected their mental and physical well-being. They overworked themselves, leading to burnout.
To avoid that, I encourage you to resolve now — today — to give yourself a break by taking the following three simple steps.
If you haven’t gotten out of the city limits in months (and months), schedule a break away from the office. Identify and protect that time on your calendar so that you aren’t jumping whenever your phone rings.
Give yourself the gift of time to refresh. That break could be a day, a long weekend or a three-week vacation. Do what makes you happy. Maybe it’s golf, spending time with family or binge watching The Queen’s Gambit. Find your comfort zone and relax.
If you can’t get physically away from your office, find ways to make it more conducive for getting work done. You’ll have to lean on your time management skills here. Studies show that every time we’re interrupted it takes 20 minutes or more to get back on task.
Set aside an hour where you are not to be interrupted — no phone calls, texts, or emails — so you can really dive into the work that needs doing. The only allowable interruptions during this time should be from the fire marshal or your spouse. You get to define what is acceptable as an emergency interruption. Protect yourself. You are your own first line of defense. If you practice solid time management, you’ll find you do have time to get away from the office.
If it’s difficult for you to get motivated and stick with an exercise regimen, try asking a friend to be your workout buddy and help hold you accountable. It’s easy to skip working out alone, but it’s harder if you have someone counting on you.
Besides the physical benefits of exercise, the mental benefits are just as important; maybe more so. Working out releases endorphins that lower stress and improve your mood. Certainly, we could all use a rosier outlook and less stress. Being healthy benefits you, your family, and your law firm.
Meditate and be mindful. Concentrate on your breathing: slow, deep, and easy. Try to clear your mind and just be. The benefits of meditation or mindfulness are many, even from a short session. If an hour works for you, great. If fifteen minutes works for you, also great. There are some great apps out there that can help introduce you to the practice of meditation.
If the news of the day angers, depresses or frustrates you, you should find ways to unplug. Unsubscribe from breaking news notices on your phone. Don’t digest the online vitriol from Facebook comments or Twitter. Turn off TV or radio news broadcasts.
You can’t completely disconnect yourself from society but taking a step back will help your outlook and lower your stress level.
It’s reasonable to expect 2021 might be just as stressful as last year was for you, maybe more so. That’s why you should take steps now to make sure you make it through with not just your health, but your sanity, too.