June 10, 2014
It doesn't really need to be said – but the legal profession is stressful. Many attorneys, no matter how long they've been practicing, struggle to balance their time at work and at home. Unfortunately, law offices aren't always proactive about helping with this stress either. It's up to you to determine the balance you want to keep and figure out how to make it happen.
Here are a few tips to improve your current work-life balance:
Determine your priorities
You can't say you're achieving your desired balance or not if you haven't decided your priorities. Depending on your career goals and personal situation, you may wish to spend more time at work or less. Figure out your ideal situation before you decide how you'll achieve it.
Decide your communication hours
Many attorneys have been taught that client service is paramount to being successful. This is true to a point – it may not be in your best interest to answer calls at 10 p.m. or return emails at 3 a.m. Determine the hours you feel comfortable staying connected to your work email and phone then be clear with your colleagues and clients what those hours are. The key is to be honest and manage others' expectations about your availability.
The busier you get the more important it is to remain on top of your schedule and tasks. Update your to-do list every morning, keep your calendar up to date at all times and don't relax on keeping your office tidy. By maintaining a tight-knit schedule you'll be able to fit your tasks into your workday instead of bringing files home with you at night.
Know your plan
Things will come up – you will get sick, your child will need to stay home from school or you'll forget a file before a meeting. Try to plan ahead for how you'll handle these kinds of situations. For example, if you have children, make sure you have a back up baby sitter for when they need to be home. Without an alternative plan, an unexpected event can throw off your whole schedule.
Take note of what inhibits your balance
As you're implementing your work-life balance strategies, identify the things that make it difficult to attain your equilibrium, then, figure out if something needs to change. If your boss expects you to work until 9 p.m. but you'd like to be home every night for dinner, consider whether your position is the right one for you in the long run.
Work-life balance can be difficult to achieve in the legal professional but, if you're proactive about setting boundaries, you can maintain a healthy relationship between your work and your personal life.