The following is a guest blog post by Dina Lynch Eisenberg, Esq., who provides consulting services to help overworked lawyers transform their work and life.
The signs of overwork are subtle and insidious. They sneak up on you. Are you feeling tired, unfocused, dissatisfied, doubtful, annoyed, pain? If you answered yes to a few of these signals, you may want to stop and look for ways to refresh yourself with these methods.
- Be self-aware. Pay attention to how you’re feeling. This is not woo-woo or navel-gazing. It’s important to check in with yourself. Don’t be like the frog who started in comfortable, cool water and gradually finds itself poached because it didn’t notice the temperature rise. Make time each week to reflect on the week’s wins, your feelings, and what to do to safeguard your energy.
- Embrace self-care. Lawyers are accustomed to helping and taking care of others, so you might resist the idea of taking time for yourself. Your greatest assets are your creativity, energy, and mind. As with anything valuable, you have to take care of them. Consider this:
An empty pitcher cannot pour. You’re the pitcher in your life. You’re filled with knowledge and wisdom that you pour into your clients and your love into your family. Yet, if you don’t take care of yourself, you have nothing to give to others.
Taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health is part of being a competent lawyer. Two of the best ways to safeguard your mind and energy is to delegate and automate.
- Delegate to others. There’s an old African saying that if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. Delegation is simple but it’s not easy. You must be willing to examine your own behavior and weaknesses to get the maximum benefits from delegation. There’s a hidden reward when you learn to delegate effectively: Your social awareness, i.e., the ability to read others, will grow. You’ll need this ability to determine who has the necessary skills for the project you want to delegate. For example, if you have three trials coming up in the next few weeks and have a legal intern and a new junior attorney on your team, you should delegate the legal research to the person who’s faster yet accurate and needs the least ongoing guidance.
- Automate or outsource non-legal tasks. You’re capable of doing everything in your law practice by hand, but you shouldn’t. Your time and energy are better spent on tasks that specifically require your legal skills. Social media marketing is a great example of something that should be automated or outsourced. You can use automation to schedule social media posts to publish throughout the week. Better yet, outsource your social media marketing to save all of the time and tap into someone else’s expertise.
You learned so many new things in law school, including to accept overwork and feeling overwhelmed as normal. Toughness was glorified, but good health was the price. Thankfully, you can unlearn that lesson and create systems that allow your law practice to grow without burning you out.
Get more advice from Dina on helping solo and small firm lawyers identify opportunities to outsource and develop delegation skills at her upcoming webinar for CEB, Outsourcing for Solos and Small Firm Attorneys, March 14th at noon.
Other CEBblog™ posts you may find useful:
- 5 Ways Lawyers Can Maximize Their Time
- 8 Things Lawyers Can Do to Address Burn Out
- How to Be a Happier Lawyer
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