“In order for businesses and individuals to thrive we must transition to a “renaissance” time of mindful living and working.” – Arianna Huffington
Photo Credit: Four Ways to Make Work-Life Balance Work
By: Pagan Cheung Paralegal student Centennial College, Published: Sun Jun 15 2014
Work-life balance is a struggle that every individual strives to achieve in the 21st-century. After all, who does not want a model home life and a great career in law or other businesses? But this is a balance that is hard to achieve especially when most of us struggle with time management and this is especially true for law professionals.
According to Steven J. Harper of the New York Times, the average billable hours lawyers are expected to generate in large firm are 2,000 hours per annum, averaging 50 hours per week of which only 40 is billable to clients. “Add commuting time, bathroom breaks, lunch, holidays, annual vacations” and familial obligations and it becomes a mess to achieve any realistic life balance.”
From a study by Harvard Business Review (HBR) spanning five years with interviews of almost 4,000 executives worldwide and 82 surveys conducted of HBS leadership executives, they found that a reflection of five main themes emerge to help face the work-life challenge.
1. Defining success for yourself
At any particular given time, the same concept applies to “leading a deliberate life: You have to define what success means to you.” For law professionals, this could mean targeting a billing range that you can realistically handle. Consider switching from working in a large law firm to becoming a sole practitioner as advised by Julie Stauffer. This switch can enable you to “call the shots” and determine how much work you wish to take on.
2. Building support networks at work and home
Build a base of support both in the home and at work. In the home, have a strong network of supporters (whether paid or extended family) to provide assistance in caregiving or helping with chores. In the workplace, build relationships with your coworkers and bosses as they can provide emotional and professional support that can be objective. In the situation when there is a car accident, you as a legal professional may need support in the workplace from coworkers to handle your current ongoing cases; in the home, you may need friends or immediate family members to provide at-home care.
3. Travelling selectively
There are times when you as a legal professional may be required to travel for your client. This should be handled with care and consideration of how it will impact your family members. The amount of travel and the time away from your family will impact both your professional career and your personal obligations. Only commit as much as you are able to maintain equilibrium.
4. Collaborating with your partner
Many executives from the HBR study empathized the importance of having a “shared vision” with your partner. The pressure of the law profession is demanding and working hours are long. An understanding partner or spouse can provide an emotional sounding board and make “positive contributions” to both your career and your life. With such intensive working lives, at times you will neglect yourself and this is where a spouse can add support and provide valuable input as to what matters.
5. Managing technology
In this age of technology where we are always connected, managing e-mails, text messages, voice mails, social media and other forms of communication has become the norm. Many interviewees from the HBR study “cautioned against using communications technology to be in two places at once, insisting on the value of undivided attention” by allocating a block of time during the day when you respond to all your communications. Alternatively, make use of practice management apps like Clio to save you time for more personal endeavours.
How Clio’s extra eight hours per week can be utilized for your Clio Day
As Arianna Huffington comments on the struggle to find a work-life balance. “From the Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” to the Roman practice “memento mori,” which is a reminder of the inevitability of death” — All impart the same wisdom which is the importance of mindful living.