As a young associate who is constantly learning to navigate the law, I am living in a brave new world with no precedent to guide me. The courts are closed. Our physical office is semi-closed. My dedication to work and my desire to continue serving our clients, however, are unchanged and remain wide open. The question becomes: How to stay productive in these unpredictable and tumultuous times?
How I Stay Productive
I have received messages from students, lawyers and other professionals I know asking how I manage to remain productive while working from home. Here are 10 things that work for me.
1. I have a dedicated area where I work.
My brain, much like Pavlov’s dog, is conditioned to work when I enter my “work zone.” I must admit that sometimes I don’t heed my own advice and end up on the couch or close to the fireplace.
2. I established a schedule adhering to my regular routine.
This means I still wake up to an alarm clock. Some days, I work until 9 or 10 p.m. Not only am I able to be productive from home, but I often find I am able to be more productive working from home. I am not required to do all the things one normally does when venturing out into the real world, including using up time commuting to work. These days, my commute consists of walking the 20 seconds it takes to get from the kitchen to my work zone.
3. I change into work clothes.
By this, I do not mean that I am sitting at home in a suit. But I do change out of my pajamas. This tells my body that “it’s showtime.”
4. I start by making my tackle-the-world daily list.
I outline all of the tasks that I want to accomplish, both work-related and non-work-related. I make my list the old-school way — with a pen and paper. When I accomplish a task, I take great pleasure in crossing it off my list.
5. I take breaks.
Just like I would at the office. I eat snacks, drink coffee, and chat with co-workers and friends. For example, I email coffee pictures with our chief law clerk and pretend we are together. I also email clients to see how they are doing during this time.
6. I have technology that works for me.
We are paperless at the firm, so I have access to all my documents and emails. There are also great free apps that have made videoconferences easier and reading cases more enjoyable, and that facilitate other activities. Of course, certain tasks on the computer are faster while at the office because I have two screens. But I’ve adapted.
7. I made my work zone pleasant, warm and cozy.
I am more likely to work in a place that I like.
8. I play music in the background.
“Alexa, play Stevie Wonder.”
9. I leave my phone in the bedroom.
When I finish a task or two on my list, I check my messages and scroll through my feed. This helps me focus on my work and avoid spending too much time on social media.
10. I smile.
Even when the other side isn’t cooperating, I smile and I’m kind. My brain releases happy hormones, which make me feel better and happier. I definitely work better when I’m happy.
Now, if only the court would reopen in a virtual environment. Perhaps it will and perhaps it will be sooner than we think.
#socialdistancing #WFH #beproductive
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