6 Step Process for Unplugging and Re-energizing
A surefire way to relieve stress and boost creativity is to occasionally turn off your phone, step away from the computer screen and simply be silent.
For most lawyers, that’s easier said than done – even in normal times. And in these days of working remotely, when we are more dependent than ever on our devices, it can seem impossible.
The key is to change your relationship with technology.
“While there is no easy answer for how to live mindfully in the hyperconnected digital world, there are some practices we can incorporate into our lives to create a healthier relationship with digital technology,” says attorney Jeena Cho, author of The Anxious Lawyer.
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6 Step Process for Unplugging
Here are some pointers from Jeena Cho – who consults with Am Law 200 firms on stress management, resiliency training, mindfulness and meditation – for unplugging and destressing.
Step 1: Practice the pause. “Mindfulness is the ability to add a moment of pause between the stimulus and your habitual reaction,” writes Cho in the ABA Journal. “When it comes to smartphones, we often grab them out of habit without pausing to explore why. The next time you catch yourself reaching for your phone, ask yourself why. Is there a legitimate reason? Or is it simply an old habitual behavior?”
Step 2: Intentionally unplug. Cho recommends carving out time – even putting it on your calendar – when you step away from your electronic devices. Use that time to take a walk, enjoy a hobby, spend time with family or friends. Be fully present while you’re doing it.
Step 3: Establish new routines – especially to start your day. “Chances are, you check your email first thing in the morning,” says Cho. “While there may be times when this is necessary, it’s not a habit that is conducive to reducing stress. By checking your email first thing, you are allowing other people to set the agenda for the day—letting them dictate what’s important. Instead of email, fill the first part of your day with activities that will help to create calm. Spend the first five minutes of your day doing meditation, keeping a gratitude journal, doing yoga or whatever helps you to feel more grounded.”
Step 4: Set boundaries. “My husband and I have a no-iPhone-in-the-bedroom rule,” writes Cho. “This creates a bit of space every evening where we can catch up, talk about our day or just read a novel.” Mindfulness pro tip: studies show you’re more distracted by your phone when it’s nearby; so when you choose to unplug, put the phone out of sight.
Step 5: Be flexible. Things come up. You can’t always stay on schedule. If your day goes haywire and you can’t remove yourself from the maelstrom, just accept it, go with the flow and do your best. The storm will pass.
Step 6: Pay attention to your feelings. “I notice that when I’m glued to that tiny screen too long, I feel sort of hungover,” writes Cho. “There’s just a sense I’ve consumed too much Facebook or been on Twitter entirely too long. Let your senses guide you. Pay attention. Spending too much time looking at screens likely means you’re not getting much exercise or spending time outdoors. Strive to cultivate a balance that feels good to you.”
How do you unplug from your devices?
Jay Reeves is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Now he writes and speaks at CLEs, keynotes and in-firm presentations on lawyer professionalism and well-being. He runs Your Law Life LLC, a training and consulting company that helps lawyers add purpose, profits and peace of mind to their practices. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-619-2441.