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Deadline pressures, heavy caseloads and billable hours are just a few of the reasons law professionals — from the fledgling to the seasoned — struggle to balance their jobs with family, friends and other interests. Figuring out how to push your legal career forward while still taking the time to enjoy life can be a challenge.
The concept of “having it all” may be a cliché, but that doesn’t mean law professionals can’t find harmony in and out of the workplace. Here are five work-life balance tips that will help you keep the momentum going in your legal career while still taking the time for the other important things in life.
1. Request flex-time options.
Employers are increasingly open to allowing staff flexible scheduling. Perhaps you can stay an hour later Monday through Thursday and take a half day off on Friday to get an early start on your weekend, or maybe you can arrange to telecommute one or two days per week. Today’s highly connected law firms can offer plenty of alternatives to the traditional 9-to-5 work day, so find the schedule that best fits your life.
2. Get support when needed.
Whether you’re overwhelmed with admin tasks distracting you from case research, or a project that demands in-depth knowledge of a topic such as eDiscovery or compliance, interim workers and consultants can help ease your workload. Taking on too much at your job doesn’t just disrupt your work-life balance, it also reduces the quality of your work. If you feel you need more support on a project, make an appointment with your manager to discuss the issue and bring a list of possible solutions, such as delegating tasks differently or bringing in a temporary worker.
3. Unplug regularly.
It’s difficult to fully relax at home if you’re constantly getting email notifications from work. Schedule regular “power down” times and stick to them, even if it’s just 60 minutes a day. Before taking time off work, prepare in advance to distribute your workload and cover all your bases so you aren’t preoccupied with things back at the office while you’re trying to unwind.
4. Don’t mix work with pleasure.
Multitasking seems like a great idea in theory, but in reality, it splits your attention. Replying to a client’s email during your daughter’s basketball game isn’t balancing work and life if you’re missing your daughter’s three-point shot because you’re busily typing on your laptop or smartphone. You’ll be a more productive worker and a more attentive partner and parent if you give your complete attention to one event or task at a time.
5. Find your own rhythm.
Every law professional works differently. Some work-life balance tips encourage you to unplug in the evening. But maybe you’re more efficient at sorting through your emails at night than first thing in the morning. In that case, spend your mornings doing something unrelated to work, like yoga or walking your kids to school.
There is no one-size-fits-all method when it comes to balancing professional and personal pursuits. It’s about finding the boundaries that work for you and doing what you can to stick with them, so discover what’s best and make the most of every aspect of your life.
Work-life balance tips can help you set the right priorities for your career and home life, but sometimes you need more than tips. At times like those, you may wish to consider Robert Half Legal’s staffing and consulting solutions.