Burnout is often considered a part of practicing law – lawyers are simply taught to expect it, deal with it, and move on. The incredible hours, the taxing demands of the profession, the deadlines, and the very real and human pressures all conspire to make burnout a very common ailment of lawyers and other law professionals.
Today, we’re taking a look at working from home and how you, as a lawyer, can work on preventing burnout – because even though you might have learned to expect it, preventing it still remains your best option.
Check the Avoidable Burnout When Working From Home
Take some time off if possible
The current global situation might be affecting your practice in several ways, and it might be business as usual in your home office. However, if things are slower than normal, this might be a great time to schedule in some much-needed free time.
And by free time we really do mean free time – don’t think about work, don’t look at work, and don’t go near work if you can, as much as you can.
Of course, if this is not possible, and if you’re still working long hours from home, make sure to at least keep your weekends (or any other two days of the week) completely free.
Structure your days better
The fact that you no longer have to commute leaves plenty of opportunity to work better. You don’t need to jump out of bed as early or go to bed as late as you normally would.
You can spend your extra time either catching up on your sleep or doing the things you normally don’t get the time for – but do make sure you don’t fill them with work.
Also, bear in mind that the key to working from home is having a schedule. Without it, you can end up both working all day and not really getting that much done. So set aside some time each evening to set yourself a schedule for the next day.
Remember that you may not be as productive (or that you may be much more productive) from home, so factor that into your planning activities.
Work on your sleep
Sleep is that one thing lawyers seem to sacrifice more than anyone else. However, as sleep is the one key ingredient to keeping us healthy, sharp, creative, and thriving, now that you work from home might be the perfect time to work on the way you sleep.
First of all, let’s look at your mattress – if it’s anything less than just perfect for your sleeping needs, you need to replace it asap. Find a good one to sleep on that will accommodate your preferences: do you toss and turn, do you have back pain (who doesn’t?), do you need something very soft to be able to fall asleep?
Next, make sure you go to bed and get up at the same time as much as possible, and set yourself an evening and a morning routine you are really happy with. This can be where you spend that extra time you would normally spend commuting.
Get your nutrients and exercise in
It may sound incredibly simple, but nutrition and exercise truly are your best allies when it comes to keeping burnout at bay. So, make sure you’re eating as healthily as you possibly can (cut out the excess sugar and caffeine, for starters), and that you are moving, even though you’re at home.
Get up every hour, at least, and stretch – you can set a timer to remind you to do this. Do some light cardio or bodyweight exercises if you have no workout equipment at home. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you’re moving, as we all know that sitting is just as bad as smoking.
Manage your expectations
While you’re working from home, the world is not spinning as it used to, so don’t expect either yourself or anyone else to keep going like before. Timeframes might be twisted, deadlines may shift, clients may become increasingly impatient, and your partners may develop even shorter fuses than they previously had.
The key to making it through this time is to be aware of the situation – and not just blindly keep doing what you are used to. Heightened stress is normal and to be expected, but you need to find a way to alleviate it (hence all the headlines above).
Teach yourself to manage your emotions and expectations better, and adjust to this time of uncertainty and discomfort.
In the long run, preventing burnout is a much smarter move than dealing with it once it becomes an actual problem. With the latter option, you might need months to start feeling like you used to, or even years in some very severe cases. Instead of risking your practice and your good name, take some time to de-stress and work on your mental and physical health. Don’t take the opportunity to work from home as a sign you should be working 24/7.