Want to Avoid Attorney Burnout? Aim for Better Work-Life Balance
Out of 1,554 attorneys who responded to Bloomberg Law’s Attorney Workload and Hours Survey, almost half reported a worsening in well-being in the last quarter of 2021. Among the surveyed attorneys, over eight out of ten experienced burnout at some point, with the most dissatisfied feeling burnt out 74% of the time on average.
Overbooking yourself professionally (and neglecting yourself personally) is a fast path to burnout—but you have options for creating a better work-life balance. When you implement time and project management best practices, you can safeguard the health and wellness of yourself and your legal team.
Rocket Matter is dedicated to helping law firms reach their peak productivity, so it's no surprise that we've acquired a few time-saving tricks along the way. When combined with proactive self-care, these tips may help you live a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Productivity tips for better work-life balance
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial to avoiding burnout, but sometimes it can feel easier said than done. Instead of puzzling over the right place to start, consider implementing Rocket Matter’s time management and project management best practices.
1. Be realistic
You might think setting ambitious deadlines will motivate you. Being realistic is a must, though. Holding yourself to a high standard is one thing, but setting yourself up for constant struggle is another. Setting deadlines you can't meet hurts your schedule—and your confidence.
2. Better Work-Life Balance Track your time
Want to take back your time, so you can spend more of it on the things that you love? Track your time to identify—and eliminate—distractions and unnecessary silos in your workflows.
3. Make a daily to-do list
We get it. When you’re overwhelmed, the last thing you want is to think about another task. Even so, having a game plan makes tackling your day easier.
Every afternoon, write down your tasks for the following day and sort them into categories according to importance. In the morning, you'll feel confident about how you’re starting your day.
Bonus tip: Start on your least favorite tasks early in the day, to make the rest of your day feel like a breeze in comparison.
4. Block your time
You wouldn't be reading this right now if multitasking worked, would you? Instead, try time blocking.
While a to-do list lets you know what you've got to do, time blocking lets you know when you're going to do it. As well as increasing clarity, it can help you increase your productivity dramatically and helps you reclaim your personal time.
5. Use collaborative calendars
Once you’ve mapped out the work you need to get done, consider adding legal technology to the mix. For example, leverage automation to manage tasks and client matters with automated court rules calendaring.
Speaking of calendars, maintaining a firm-wide calendar online makes it easy for everyone in your firm to stay on top of appointments, meetings, and deadlines. This encourages more collaboration among legal staff, reducing your mental load and the potential for burnout.
6. Delegate and automate
These are the magic words that prevent missed deadlines, improve relationships with coworkers, and ultimately lead to improved productivity overall throughout your firm.
Perhaps another attorney, paralegal, or staff member at your firm likes that one administrative task you keep putting off. By giving them the task, you free up your schedule to do other work, while also giving them work they enjoy. (Although make sure you delegate work in accordance with ethics rules for your state bar!)
Tools like Rocket Matter can automate delegation and task management for you, so you don't have to spend as much time on tedious tasks.
If you don’t make your health and wellness a priority, no amount of productivity “hacks” can prevent you from (over)working yourself into burnout. Lawyers don't exactly have a good track record for valuing self-care, but times are changing and the guidance below is becoming more commonly accepted.
7. Seek professional support, if needed
A recent ALM Mental Health and Substance Abuse Survey found that lawyers experience depression at four times the general population’s depression rate.
If you’re experiencing symptoms, don’t try to go it alone. Take a page from your clients’ book and seek advice from an experienced professional.
8. Take advantage of flex time or remote work
The time attorneys spend commuting can be reclaimed when legal work is supported by cloud technology. If you have the option, take advantage of flex time or remote work opportunities.
9. Don’t sacrifice your physical health
It's common for lawyers to neglect their personal needs when they're under pressure. Ignoring your need for exercise, sleep, or nutrition might help you meet a deadline or two in the short run—but it’s not sustainable in the long run.
Ultimately, your mental health and physical health are innately connected. And in the words of Joyce Sunada, “if you don't make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.”
If you’re not sure where to start, try taking a short walk between meetings or blocking out an extra ten minutes on your lunch break to try a simple meditation
10. Face the music
Research has vindicated the importance of dance breaks—thoroughly. Music improves your mental health in a variety of ways, including decreasing your recovery time from stress by lowering your blood pressure, heart rate, and even stress hormones.
So pop on your favorite record, and give yourself permission to take a quick breather.
If this doesn’t appeal to you, consider trying a forest bath (or more colloquially, a nature walk), gardening, doing a puzzle, or finding a hands-on craft to improve your well-being.
11. If all else fails, take a break
Sometimes, the best solution is time spent out of the office and with loved ones. Choose a time of the year when your firm is least busy, and take a well-deserved break.
Use automation to create workflows and guide attorneys through custom workflows in your absence. With Rocket Matter, you can set up fully automated systems that require only limited oversight—with phases that contain their own calculations, custom data, and tasks. Unplugging can be hard, but these fail-safes may help you find it easier to trust your team to manage your workload in your absence.
Beat attorney burnout with better legal technology
Rocket Matter helps you make the most of your workday, so you have more time to spend on your hobbies, health, wellness, and social life.
You can use Rocket Matter for:
- Collaborating with your colleagues
- Delegating your tasks
- Making time tracking easier (and spending less time on it)
- Setting and tracking your deadlines to make sure you don't miss them
- Monitoring your productivity
- Analyzing your workflow to find and erase bottlenecks
- And more!
Our legal project management software also includes powerful workflow and document automation tools so you can spend less time on administrative work and more time on what matters most.
If you’re ready to see how the right software support can help you find a better work-life balance, get in touch to schedule a demo with one of our legal software experts.