Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

7 Ways to Be More Successful by Slowing Down

You might think 80-hour work weeks and being on call 24/7 is the way to get ahead in the law.

Experts say it’s more likely get you in trouble – and practitioners are increasingly taking note.

From law school on, we are taught to put our noses to the grindstone. Outwork the competition. Go the extra mile. And when we graduate, we find ourselves like Sisyphus pushing a boulder that grows ever larger up a hill that grows ever steeper.

This is the hustle culture, which has long been the guiding principle for success as a lawyer.

“There’s always one more email to send, one more text to answer, and one more report to file — and before you know it, it’s 9 PM,” writes bioethicist Elizabeth Yuko. “Business hours are long over, but you’re still at the office, and some of your colleagues are probably still there, too. When you’re finally home, you sit down on the couch, eat whatever you can scrounge from your kitchen… and check your email again.”

But a backlash is brewing, sparked by research from experts like Yuko and fueled by the ABA Report on Lawyer Well-Being, which found a profession “in crisis” and struggling with shocking rates of depression, burnout, addiction and burnout.

“After decades of being told we could always work harder and witnessing the impact of that mentality on our well-being, it may finally be beginning to shift,” writes Yuko in Thrive Global.

7 Ways to Slow Down – and Soar!

You don’t need you doctor to tell you that chronic stress is bad for your brain, body and work life. You know this from personal experience. Yet knowing it and doing something about it are two different things.

Here are seven easy ways to relax more and stress less:

  1. Unplug periodically. “Being free from technology will give your body a chance to recuperate from excessive technology exposure,” says this source. “Your eyes can take a break from eye strain. Your neck will finally take a rest from ducking so low. And your hands are now free from repetitive and mindless scrolling and clicking through gadgets.”

  2. Break the “time is money” cycle. The pressure to always be doing something can rob us of life’s simple pleasures, such as chatting with a friend at the post office, leaving work early to spend time with your children, or going outside to enjoy nature. The happy irony is that when we stop commodifying our time, we actually become more productive.

  3. Get more sleep. Again, easier said than done. Ease into it. Go to bed a few minutes earlier each night. After a week or so, you’ll see a difference.

  4. Screen prospective clients. Don’t take every case that comes in the door. Make sure you have enough time to devote to the new matter – and that you have the skills to tackle it.

  5. When it’s quitting time, turn off the lights and go home. Do this even if you haven’t completed everything on your daily to-do list. Your priority is self-care.

  6. Schedule time for recharging and recreation. If you don’t put it on your calendar, it won’t happen.

  7. Drink more water. “When you’re always doing something, it can be easy to forget to stay hydrated,” says Yuko. “Plus, refilling your bottle throughout the day will provide you with much-needed breaks and opportunities to step away from your desk and connect with others.”


What steps do you take to slow down in your law life?

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.

Read More by Jay >

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