I sit in my office on a Sunday at 10:38 a.m. writing this. And I have been here for 3 hours now. So, please read this knowing what I say cannot always be executed to a T. However, when you make a conscious effort to prioritize your personal life, these weekend days or nights don’t hurt as bad.
The more I work, the more I realize that Dolly Pardon had it right. She was working 9 to 5, just trying to make a dollar. But, at the end of the day, she left work behind her. And we should too!
The legal profession, in particular, demands a huge commitment of time, devotion, stress, unconscious obsession and for a lot of us, an hourly requirement on which we are strictly judged. On average, an attorney bills 2200 hours annually, which doesn’t give credit for the other countless unbillable hours spent on the job or time write-offs. But, if you are like me, the only reason we are working is either because we love it or because it is a means to the life we want to live. With that said, neither a love nor a means should outweigh our lives and health, which it often does.
We cannot always put our foot down on the requirements of our jobs or the lack of enough hours in a day. What we can do is consciously prioritize our personal lives and devote ourselves wholly to work from 9 to 5, or whatever our hours may be. And, in the long run, our clients will thank us – really. There is something to be said about a fresh mind and focus. That cannot be achieved by burning the candle at both ends or pulling all-nighters. If you make the effort to prioritize that time, and set healthy boundaries for your evenings and weekends, you will get closer to being able to actually manage it.
Our bosses are not going to do it for us. Our families may try, but they will not understand the pressures or deadlines. Only we can turn our email notifications off while we share dinners with our families. Only we can tell our clients that we have to be present for our kids’ birthday parties and that we will address their issue when we return to the office. This may not always be possible, and you may be slogging through the file on a Sunday morning. But, when you do go through that file, you will know it was your decision.
Some healthy things to think about and attempt to execute when reclaiming your personal life include:
Delegating work to others when possible (I know, I know. Just try it though.)
Turning your phone or email off at a certain time every day and over the weekends.
Establishing boundaries with bosses, staff and clients.
Try and get your most important tasks done early in the day and then hit smaller stuff so that you leave with a sense of accomplishment and can enjoy your personal time.
Make a list at the end of each day for the following so you are not dreaming of it.
Celebrate your successes – give yourself credit for what you have gotten done instead of what remains.
Be conscious of how you are spending your time and don’t let your job dictate that with respect to the post-5:00 p.m. hours.
I don’t think I have to say it, but we can all learn a little something from Dolly. Standing up to your boss, your client, or yourself and your own boundaries is the only way to claim your free nights and weekends! And when you finally do, you will wish you did it earlier!
Lyndsey O’Connell, Esq. – Beavers O’Connell Group
Lyndsey is part-owner of Beavers O’Connell Group, a civil litigation firm in Denver, Colorado. The firm specializes in real estate and construction law, with a primary focus in litigation of the issues that arise in that broad arena. Lyndsey’s previous career was as a Real Estate Broker in Jackson, MS, during which she was awarded Million Dollar Producer and Top Producer each year until she left for law school. She was also part-owner of a Construction Company, wherein she gained an invaluable amount of site related knowledge and experience. Through these professional experiences, Lyndsey has successfully been able to represent buyers, sellers, builders, business owners, landlords, appraisers, and construction professionals in a wide array of disputes and litigations.