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Lawyer Well-Being Week

Throw ‘Balance’ out the Window When WFH — Focus on Well-Being

Throw in a pandemic, and it seems laughable to be striving for balance.

By Kristin Tyler

Of course my neighbor would decide to run the leaf blower in his backyard at the exact time my fourth Zoom call of the day is scheduled to begin. Of course!

Of course the leaf blower causes my dog to lose his mind and start barking as if someone were knocking down the front door.

Of course the noise from the barking dog and the leaf blower causes my 8-year-old to crank up the volume on the TV so high that I’m fairly certain everyone in a two-mile radius can now hear the latest episode of “Lego Masters.” (Which he’s already watched twice, but who’s counting?)

Of course the blaring TV causes his sister to start whining that now she can’t hear the yoga class she was streaming on her iPad.

Of course all this chaos would be enough to raise the blood pressure of any parent on a “normal” day. Now, factor in the stress of a lawyer trying to work from home during a pandemic and boom — that’s some next-level stress.

“Balance” When the World’s Upside Down?

We all know the things we are “supposed” to do to live so-called balanced lives, like eat healthy, sleep eight hours, drink plenty of water, meditate and exercise. But how on earth is it even remotely possible to achieve the holy grail of “balance” when the world seems to have turned upside down?

Those who know me know I have a pretty strong distaste for the word “balance.” Balance implies all things have equal weight, equal importance, and should be given equal attention. Living in such a state of equilibrium is simply unrealistic and unattainable for any person — let alone a busy lawyer — even in ideal circumstances.  Throw in a pandemic, and it is laughable to be striving for balance.

Well-Being Is a Much Better Goal

I am relieved to see that “well-being” is the term being used in the first-ever “Lawyer Well-Being Week,” which is a joint initiative between the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, the American Bar Association Law Practice Division and its Attorney Well-Being Committee, and the ABA Commission on Lawyer Assistance Program’s (CoLAP) Well-Being Committee.

What does well-being mean to me? It means doing the best you can to take care of yourself, your loved ones and your clients. It is not perfect harmony, as I believe is implied by the word “balance.” It is accepting that sometimes certain areas of life are going to take more time, energy and attention and that’s OK.

The things you are focusing on and giving priority may shift many times in any given day, week or month. If you are preparing for trial, certainly your work is going to be your main priority to the temporary detriment of your workout routine and family. On the flip side, if a few weeks later you can take a well-deserved vacation, then rest, rejuvenation and time with family or friends will be the priority for your well-being

Well-being involves constant ebbs and flows. It also involves permitting yourself to accept that it’s fine to focus on whatever you are making a priority at that time and not beat yourself up for the other things you can’t achieve.

Three Easy Ways to Strive for Well-being Every Day

OK, so I’m a mom, wife, lawyer and legal-tech entrepreneur. I’ve got a lot going on. I firmly believe that no matter how hectic your day may be — pandemic or not — there are three easy ways you can strive for well-being in daily life.

No. 1: Do something you enjoy

It doesn’t have to be the same thing every day. Some days it might be working out. Other days it may be taking time to plan and cook a favorite meal. Perhaps it’s socializing with friends or watching a movie with family. The only test is that it’s something that brings you joy, whether it takes five minutes or five hours.

No. 2: Do one thing that will make you feel like a success

This could be finishing the draft of your next killer appellate brief. It could be reorganizing your office or pantry. It could be mailing out the invites for your kid’s next birthday party. Pick one thing a day that you know will make you feel like a million bucks if you achieve it and then make it happen. Anything else that you accomplish after that is just gravy.

No. 3: Put your blinders on – and your headphones too

This means block out any influences that could make you feel like what you are doing to strive for well-being isn’t somehow “enough.” Maybe it is a co-worker who humblebrags about billing more hours than you last month. Put on the headphones. Perhaps it’s social media, making you feel like everyone except you went to the gym today. Put on the blinders. Most importantly, if you’ve got any sort of narrative running in your head that makes you feel guilty for not attaining the unrealistic goal of “balance,” then it’s time to flip the switch and turn off that negative self-talk.

Find Well-Being Where You Are

The world has changed a lot in the last few months. Find well-being working from home, hustling to help with the kids’ schoolwork, cooking meals, and keeping up with housework. Enjoy those drive-by birthday parties, Facebook live weddings and countless Zoom happy hours … er, I mean “very important meetings.”

Embrace where you are at this exact moment in time.

For more well-being tips, check out Attorney at Work’s “You at Work” series of posts, here.

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Kristin Tyler

Kristin Tyler is co-founder of LAWCLERK, where attorneys go to hire freelance lawyers. Companies like LAWCLERK (@lawclerklegal) provide access to thousands of quality freelance lawyers. We also offer assistance to law firms throughout the screening, interviewing, and hiring process so you can find the best possible talent for your team. Kristin is also a partner at the law firm of Garman Turner Gordon where she practices trusts and estates. In addition to being a lawyer and entrepreneur, she is a proud mom and firm believer that the practice of law can be rewarding despite its daily demands.

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