Making Time For Yourself When Running Your Law Practice is Essential

Making Time For Yourself When Running Your Law Practice is Essential

Making Time For Yourself When Running Your Law Practice is Essential. Today’s guest blog is by Scott Distasio of auto accident law firm in Tampa. The opinions expressed by the author in this and all guest blogs are not necessarily those of The Attorneys For Freedom Law Firm.

No matter what point you have reached in your legal career, it’s certain that your stress levels have remained the same since law school – high. By the time we graduate, we accept that we’ve chosen a profession that demands a lot of us, both professionally and personally.

A 2014 study of Yale Law students discovered that a stunning 70% self-reported mental health issues while in law school. The pressure shifts, but it still remains true that we work within a profession that fails to promote time for self-care and stress management.

The American Bar Association promoted a 2016 study about well-being and found that there were high percentages of depression, stress, and anxiety present in acting attorneys, as well as problems with substance abuse. It’s no longer an elephant in the room – stress is prevalent, and self-care is important.

It’s hard to schedule a time to think about taking care of ourselves, but it’s important. Here are some areas to evaluate for better practices.

Making Time For Yourself When Running Your Law Practice is Essential

Making Time For Yourself When Running Your Law Practice is Essential

Add personal time to your work schedule

This may sound contradictory, but you should actually build in some time for yourself during the workday. Whether it’s a standard block of time first thing in the morning, or a designated time to hold your calls and focus on your calendar before you go home in the evening – you need to make it a rule.

There are multiple reasons to carve out this personal time. It will help you focus on what’s important and prioritize your activities. It will make you a better co-worker and employer because you’ll be clear on your needs during the day and week. This is simply good business. When you’re focused, you’re a better attorney. Take control of your schedule, and take control of your workday.

Don’t be afraid to seek support

We’ve established that you’re in an extremely stressful career field. Were you aware that the American Bar Association has established a national task force to address the issue?

There’s no shame in seeking support or professional help to help you manage stress, depression, or related problems with substance abuse. If you simply cannot convince yourself that it’s for your own good, then remember that your job performance will be impaired when you can’t deal with stress.

Getting help simply makes you a better employee and part of your firm.

Be proactive, not reactive, with your daily routine

It’s easy to let the rhythm of each day overtake us. Every week brings new fires to put out, new clients, and new challenges. Adrenaline junkies flock to the legal professions, simply because the unpredictability of human nature ensures that there are no guaranteed results.

However, there are some predictable elements involved  – and it’s just plain biology that is involved. We aren’t set up to thrive on minimal sleep and varying bedtimes. The absolute minimum amount of sleep needed, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is 7 hours.

Your first line in the sand should be to make sure that your schedule allows you to get enough sleep.

We all know about the afternoon slump. It’s hardwired into humans, and it’s unavoidable. Respect that you will have times of less efficiency during the day, and don’t schedule your most important meetings or research when your output is slowed. You’ll actually get more done, by using your natural cycles to plan your activities.

Embrace technology

Did you know how much of your practice’s files and data can be set up in a secure cloud – allowing you to access it anywhere? There are entire suites of applications that allow offices to set up client files, blank forms, calendars, and other vital pieces of your workflow online. You’re no longer dependent on going into the office to retrieve a file, or on waiting for an assistant to locate it. In some specialty areas, you need to be able to reach your client on their own turf – office visits just aren’t always feasible.

Migrating your firm’s data to a private cloud will allow anyone with authorized access to complete work wherever they have internet connectivity. It’s a real game-changer for everyone involved. Your clients benefit from your portable efficiency. Your staff will love having access to group calendars and immediate updates to documents and schedules.

Faster, more efficient file access, and the capability to take your work right to an outside location? It’s a huge win for productivity and reducing stress.

Conclusion

The legal profession has always been stressful, and even the American Bar Association has begun to recognize the existence of problems related to depression, anxiety and substance abuse that stem from our career stressors.

We owe it to ourselves, our co-workers, and our clients to take care of ourselves and manage our stress more effectively.  By starting with our schedules, taking advantage of opportunities for support, and using technology to improve our workloads, we can begin to counteract the unhealthy habits that have been with us since law school.

Making Time For Yourself When Running Your Law Practice is Essential

About the author:

Making Time For Yourself When Running Your Law Practice is Essential

Scott Distasio is the founder of an auto accident law firm in Tampa. His career focus is on all types of personal injury cases. His work represents his belief that all firms should provide outstanding service to their clients. Follow @scottdistasio on Twitter to see what legal wisdom he shares next.