Work-Life Balance Matters. Here’s How to Have More of It
By Jamy J. Sullivan, J.D., Robert Half Legal
My legal team has been working remotely since the pandemic began and since then the line between my work and home life has become practically non-existent. How can I achieve a better work-life balance while working remotely?
When your home is your office, and vice versa, it can seem almost impossible to strike a good balance between your work and personal life. But doing so is extremely important with so many legal professionals working remotely full time or taking advantage of hybrid work setups. Legal managers may have different expectations of when team members should be available, but there are still ways to improve work-life balance. Here are a few suggestions.
Set a schedule
If your firm offers some flexibility as to your working hours outside of scheduled meetings, try to tackle important projects at the time you’ve determined you are most productive. If you hit your stride first thing in the morning, then that’s your start time. If it’s mid-morning, stick to that day after day.
A common mistake people make working from home is to forget to take breaks. Sometimes you’ll find yourself on a roll and want to power through. But make these times the exception, not the rule.
Turn off your computer at the end of the workday and try to move from activity mode into relaxation mode. These boundaries will help prevent your professional responsibilities from bleeding over into your personal life.
Create a dedicated space
If possible, set up a work area that’s separate from places in your home you don’t associate with work like the kitchen or in front of the TV. That also creates a work-life boundary. Choose an area with a door and try to create an office-like environment. If you haven’t already, this might be a good time to invest in an ergonomic chair. Don’t forget to stand up at regular intervals. When you’re done working for the day, you can simply walk out of the room, close the door and leave the “office” behind for the evening. If your home doesn’t allow for you to use a room just for an office, keep your work area as tidy as possible and keep papers or websites you’re working on out of view.
Reserving a generous amount of time for yourself and the things you enjoy is essential to achieving a healthy work-life balance. When times are stressful, some people find a mindfulness exercise or a simple meditation helpful. Above all, keep your personal time yours.
Schedule your time off and resist the temptation to answer emails or monitor projects while you’re on vacation. If you take a “staycation” instead, which almost everyone had to do during the worst of the pandemic, set
up an out of office auto-response for email and voicemail. And do your best to stay away from your home workspace as much as possible.
Every legal professional has a unique situation as far as what’s expected of them by their manager. However, if you frequently receive late-night project requests with the assumption you’ll respond, don’t be afraid to establish boundaries in a private chat with your boss. Most managers are very aware today that people are under additional stresses and are likely to be empathetic. If not, at least you will have expressed your preference.
Jamy Sullivan is executive director of the legal practice at Robert Half, a premier provider of talent and consulting solutions for a wide range of initiatives in the legal field, including compliance, contract management, data privacy, litigation support and more. Visit RobertHalf.com.