Before mobile devices became a part of our daily lives, work-life balance was a struggle for many in the legal industry. Now, with technology keeping us plugged in at all hours and all locations, that balance is even harder to maintain. Throw in urgent-sounding messages from clients, co-workers, and prospective clients, and it’s easy to become entrenched in work.
Of course, work-life balance is essential, regardless of how easy it is to neglect it. We’ve created the following guide to help you consciously withdraw from work demands and focus on life outside the office.
Manage Client Expectations
If you make yourself available to your clients at all hours, they will come to expect that level of service from you. They may be friendly toward you, but they can also feel slighted if you don’t maintain your normal level of availability. Set clear boundaries with clients and co-workers so that they know what you’re comfortable with.
- Clearly define the hours you are available. Be sure to adhere to those hours.
- When you are “off-duty,” remove the temptation to read or respond to incoming messages; keep your electronic device off, or in another area of the home.
Respond, Don’t React
Incoming messages that attempt to incite an immediate reaction from you should not be replied to right away. Take a moment, take a breath. Carefully consider your response with a rough draft, only after stepping away from the message for ten minutes or so.
We know that deadlines for incoming projects must be addressed as quickly as possible. However, it’s important to hold off on knee-jerk responses during your off-hours. Try sending a short message letting the sender know you’re not available at the moment and, you will respond when you are available. In this message, let them know when they can expect a carefully considered response.
Communication is Key
When emails and messages come in at a flurried pace, it is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed. Don’t let the drive to keep up with the pace prevent you from effective communication with those around you.
Maintain excellent communication by taking the time to fully inform co-workers, clients, and opposing counsel of your needs and intentions. Informing those around you of your expectations of them will improve the quality of the work they produce and prevent tensions from rising. You can prevent distractions from interrupting these important conversations by distancing yourself from mobile technologies.
Work-life Balance is Worth the Investment
When you demonstrate the respect for yourself that you deserve, others will respond in kind. Set your priorities, then inform others how to respect them. Being able to unplug from work and enjoy the fruits of your labor is imperative to achieve a happy work-life balance. Maintain good communication with your firm, but only during the hours you’ve determined are a good fit for you!