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10 Lawyer Work Life Balance Tips for Health, Happiness & Productivity

A lawyer’s work life balance affects three essential functions: health, happiness and productivity. All work and no play will have a severe impact on your career and personal life.

In 2015, a Lancet study found that employees who work long hours have a higher risk of stroke than those working standard hours.

The reality of legal practice is lawyers are expected to dedicate more time to work than many other professionals. Despite this, you can certainly find a balance that works for you. Here are 10 tips to make it happen.

Published November 6, 2017

1. Find your sweet spot

Surprise: there is no “one size fits all” approach to a lawyer work life balance. Your ideal work life balance is based on your personal values and priorities:

  • Are you “work to live” or “live to work” type of person?
  • What ratio of work to personal time will make you happiest?
  • Would you prefer balance throughout your career, or are you expecting to work a lot harder in the beginning?
  • What’s your field of law?

2. Saturdays (or Sundays - pick one) are for YOU

Don’t touch your work if it’s not an emergency!

3. Set hard boundaries for on-call hours

Make these boundaries clear to your employer and your clients. Before X:00 and after X:00, you are not obligated to answer non-emergency communications. (Realistically, this may vary based on seniority and responsibilities.)

4. Block off personal time in any schedules/planners/calendars

People are less likely to schedule over time that’s already blocked off. To make sure you have some personal time, pencil it in as a prior engagement.

5. Have a preset approach to handle absences

Plan to do more work the day before a personal commitment, or the day after an unexpected absence.

6. Don’t be afraid to delegate

There’s nothing wrong with sharing responsibility, especially if it makes you more effective in your job! When you’re really struggling, identify which tasks are “you” tasks only, and which can be handled effectively by someone else.

7. Listen to your body

You may want to keep going, but eventually your body is going to say “enough is enough.” If you’re feeling fatigued, that’s your cue to take a break.

8. Be transparent about personal limitations

Do you have a disability? Ongoing personal commitments or conflicts? Special requirements for workspace accessibility?

Speaking openly and honestly about this with appropriate parties can help you and your employer create realistic expectations for your time.

9. Work smarter, not harder - in your personal life

Have you thought about making your personal time more efficient? Here are some easy ways (some of which cost money, but pay you back in time):

  • Prepare a week’s worth of meals ahead of time to reduce time spent cooking
  • Pay a little more for childcare that allows some flex time
  • Invest in monthly or weekly cleaning services to take chores off your plate

10. Surround yourself with supportive family & friends

You have a limited amount of time. To keep yourself happy, gift the majority of it to those who recharge your batteries (not drain them!).

Guest blogger Ashley Wilson-Rew is Content Strategist & SEM at protocol 80, Inc.

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