by Dina Eisenberg
Law is obviously a stressful job. Lawyering requires your full attention to service your clients well. That’s why you may not immediately realize that you are overworked. You’re too busy to notice.
Face it. When you are the receptionist, intake coordinator, document manager, bookkeeper, payroll assistant, paralegal, you are doing the absolute most to run your practice. Yet, you still have to find the time and energy to practice law. In your practice, you learned to adapt to all the competition for your time and energy. Maybe too well.
The first two steps to eliminating overwork are: Be self-aware. Practice self-care.
How do you know you’re overworked?
The signs of overwork are subtle and insidious. They sneak up on you. Are you feeling…
Tired- it’s hard to tear yourself out of bed or stay up at night
Unfocused- You forget what you were just doing and can’t remember what’s next. You’re checking your phone constantly to skim.
Dissatisfied- Every day is the ‘same ol’ and it feels like nothing you do can change that.
Doubtful- Wondering if you’re losing your edge or if you’re still up for the challenge.
Annoyed to be around others- You’d rather be alone and fantasize about vacation
Pain- Science reports that depression has a physical component that leads to headaches and other aches and pains.
If you answered yes to a few of these signals, you may want to stop and look for ways to refresh yourself.
Pay attention to how you feel. That’s not woo-woo or navel-gazing. It’s good advice. Don’t be like the frog who starting in cold water and gradually finds himself poached because he didn’t notice the temperate rise.
Make time each week for self-reflection. Friday afternoons, when your workweek is slowing down, is a natural time to reflect on the week’s wins, your feelings and what to do to safeguard your energy.
Your greatest asset is your creativity, energy and your mind. As with anything valuable, you have to take care of it.
Lawyers are accustomed to helping and taking care of others, so you might resist the idea of taking time for yourself. Consider this.
An empty pitcher cannot pour
You are the pitcher in your life. You are filled with knowledge and wisdom that you pour into your clients and your love into your family. Yet, if you don’t rest you have nothing to give to others. You are stressed out and overworked, essentially running on empty, with nothing to give.
It is your responsibility to be a competent laywer. Taking care of your physical, emotional and mental health is part of being a competent lawyer. Two of the best ways to safeguard your mind and energy is to automate and delegate.
Automate your work
You don’t need to do ALL the things in your law practice. It just feels like you do. Law school conditions lawyers to think of stress and overwork as the norm. It’s not. Your satisfaction and your law practice will grow faster when you learn to leverage your time. Automate more.
Automation isn’t complex or fancy. It’s simply about creating a system of steps, in a particular order, to accomplish a goal. Think recipes.
There is a process for baking a cake, right? You combine the dry ingredients. Then, combine the wet ingredients and mix them together. There is a proper order, too. Try adding the eggs after you bake the cake and see how that works for you.
Same principles hold true when you create an automated workflow for your law practice. You identify the steps to achieve the outcomes you want. Order the steps so they happen in a predictable way. Share your recipe with your team. Enjoy the rich results.
You are smart enough to create your own workflow but the process is more effective when you work with a mentor who can challenge your assumptions and point out the lumps.
Delegate to Others
There is an old African saying that goes…
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together
You need a team to grow your law practice to six figures and beyond. Yes, you can do it alone, but are you willing to pay the cost to your health and relationships?
Delegation is simple but it is not easy. You have to be the type of person willing to examine your own behavior and weaknesses to get the maximum benefits from delegation. The upside, though, is that the skills you must master to be effective at delegation are the same ones that will make client interactions easier and more productive.
Outsourcing is asking someone else (inside or outside your firm) to help you achieve a goal. Delegation is telling that person specifically how to help you and preparing the person for success.
You already delegate in your personal life (hello eating out at restaurants and housekeepers), now it’s time to bring this tool to your office, where there are many administrative and marketing tasks to outsource.
If you want help with deciding if you are ready to outsource or what projects to delegate, I’d love to help you.
About Dina Eisenberg
Dina Eisenberg is a lawyer/Ombuds turned entrepreneur. She coaches lawyers to automate, delegate and grow revenues to $500k without burn out. Recapture $5k by getting her checklist for hiring a social media manager at https://OutsourceEasier.com. Click here to contact Dina.
More posts by Lawyer Business Advantage: