5 ways to maintain your work-life balance as a lawyer

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is important for all professionals, but for solo practitioners, it can be challenging. When you’re climbing the rungs of the legal ladder, figuring out how to have both a career in the legal business and a social life can be tricky. Over the years I have set myself small targets for professional and private equilibrium, and here I share some professional coach tips for success.

The following considerations are essential to assist you in meeting the expectations of your new role as an attorney while keeping a healthy balance outside of the office.

The main points

Set yourself limits for working hours

One of the greatest tips for a better work-life balance as an attorney is to keep track of the number of hours you spend working, such as My Hours or Clockify. You could consider how many hours you’re willing to work in a single day or week and stick to it. By asking yourself what amount of time you’d be happy to dedicate to work, you will know that anything above that will be detrimental to your personal life and happiness. 

Throughout your day, set aside adequate time to engage in leisure activities such as taking 5 minutes to walk outside. This will provide you with a much-needed break to minimise stress at work. Allocate these into your work schedule as you would other tasks and you may find this makes a noticeable impact on not only your stress levels, but your work-life balance and overall productivity. 

Prioritize your workload

Learning to prioritize your workload is key. Ask yourself whether you need to respond to, or action, a request straight away. If you have a long list of tasks, spend time establishing their order of importance. Which are urgent and which are neither urgent nor important?

Look for easy ways to implement time-saving tools for your office. One of the top reasons why people don’t take time for themselves is because they feel like they honestly don’t have it to take. One way to help you feel more comfortable taking time for yourself and your family is to use tools like legal document automation solutions or online firm management programs. Technology was designed to make your life easier. Explore some of the modern legal office software programs that are revolutionizing workflows for lawyers.

Choose carefully

As a whole, legal professionals are intelligent, ambitious, assertive, and creative types who understand the importance of working hard. They don’t sit around waiting for an opportunity to knock—they chase it. Many in the legal field strive to earn the best assignments and hustle to land the best cases. Most lawyers have a competitive streak.

Before accepting any role, ensure you research the firm thoroughly – consider everything that comes with the position. A specialist recruiter will also have a good understanding of the different cultures across firms and can be a useful source of guidance when choosing a firm that’s right for you.

Unplug for a Little While Each Day

Although many lawyers keep a traditional schedule, being your own boss gives you a degree of flexibility. When it comes to spending more time with your friends and family (or even participating in your favourite activities), take advantage of being the boss. Go to that book fair with your child; go with your spouse or friends for a long lunch. You can always work a little later in the day or even come in a little earlier the next day. Learning to embrace flexibility will help improve your work-life balance.

Here’s the key to making this work: you must actually treat those items as appointments. That’s not to say that you must be inflexible with your life. It’s more to make sure that you are taking time away from your work. Your mental health, your relationships, and your business are all worth it.

FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

This malady is common among lawyers committed to becoming partners. They feel the need to be constantly available, throwing off work-life balance. Their concern was that by not being seen in the office, at all hours, they would miss out on opportunities to work on important cases. Ironically, their fear of not missing out at the office can often lead to them missing out on their personal lives. The constant need to stay on top of case developments and respond to clients’ calls and emails is exhausting. It can quickly destroy the balance between the office and your private life—especially when this is done after hours or on weekends.

In order to cope effectively, remember to set yourself boundaries when managing tasks. Whenever possible, ensure that you can delegate certain tasks to your juniors – allowing more time to focus on the key deliverables at hand. Becoming too involved is a common complaint with lawyers. Learning to let go of emotionally intense situations. Mentors can be a great sounding board to help put things into perspective. When constant work and business is ingrained in us, it can be hard to take time for ourselves. The day in the life of a lawyer can get stressful, but don’t give up. You can always reach out to a performance coach to get a better hold of legal practice and achieve all your goals.

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