Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

4 Guilt-Free Ways to Add Leisure to Your Law Practice

leisureIf you’re having trouble squeezing leisure time into your busy schedule, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a workaholic.

Maybe you’ve just forgotten how to have fun.

Successful attorneys know lots about torts and trusts. What many don’t know is how to spend their free time.

“[Lawyers] generally do not give themselves high satisfaction levels on fun and recreation,” says attorney and professional coach Irene Leonard. “[They] worry about taking time off because it will be hard to get back into the high pressure groove of their practice. They have a critical voice reminding them they should be working even when their brain won’t let them.”

Leonard says when she asks her lawyer-clients a simple question – “If you had more free time what would you do with it?” – many have trouble coming up with an answer.

As a result, even when they are not actually in the office working they tend to fill their schedules with volunteering, chores, family commitments, networking – anything to stay busy and avoid facing the sad but undeniable fact that they’re not having much fun.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Lawyers Just Want To Have Fun

Here are four tips for adding a little leisure to your law practice without feeling guilty:

1.)  Break leisure into bite-sized morsels. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking leisure requires extended time out of the office. It doesn’t. “Over the years I’ve noticed that lawyers think of fun and recreation as a big block of time outside of work,” says Leonard. “[They] believe the one week vacation – a complete break for a number of days is the best way to have fun. That creates the potential for an unbalanced life style.”

Try carving out little breaks during the day. Take a lunchtime stroll to a part of the neighborhood you don’t know well. Keep a sketchbook in your desk. Plant flowers in a window box. Ride a bike to the office once a week. You’ll return to business refreshed, and you’ll be more productive.

2.)  Stop thinking in either-or terms. Sixty minutes of fun equals a wasted billable hour, right? Wrong. It can be both. Choose clients you enjoy working with. Better yet, tailor your practice to your personal interests. If you dig the business aspects of private practice, target small businesses as prospective clients. If you like a nice Cabernet after work, become a wine lawyer.

3.)  Say no. Making space for leisure means you’ll have to give up activities that gobble up your time. What tasks can be outsourced or delegated? Do you really need another committee assignment? Freeing up as little as 15 minutes a day adds hours of leisure time each month.
4.)  Make a playlist. It should include Cyndi Lauper (“Girls Just Want To Have Fun”), Sly and the Family Stone (“Hot Fun in the Summertime”), the Beach Boys (“Fun, Fun, Fun”) and pretty much anything by Prince.

What about you? How do you incorporate leisure into your work day?

Source: Irene Leonard, Coaching for a Change


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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