‘Tis the season for a lot of merriment and a bit of auld lang syne. However, this time of year can also be the most overwhelming as people are forced to juggle family, friends, shopping, parties, and…work deadlines. For lawyers, this can be especially challenging; yet some attorneys have figured out how to successfully unplug and unwind during the holiday season and beyond.
Here, lawyers share their tips:
“During the holiday season, I make sure to block out at least a few days for myself where I commit to not do any work—no emails, no calls, nothing. Also, getting away from my normal environment tends to help with my commitment to unplug. I’m not as prone to want to do work if I’m in a more relaxing, unfamiliar place and I don’t have physical access to work documents and devices. This year, I’ll be heading to a resort destination, surrounding myself with nature, and attempting to decompress and reset for the new year ahead .” —Kimberlee Gee, a lawyer who practices labor and employment law in Washington D.C., and Maryland
“How do I unwind? Simple: Compartmentalization, video games, and working out.” —Matt Kreizer, founder of Kreitzer Law, in Virginia
“During the holidays, I try to leave early in the afternoons, particularly if the family is visiting. Even just an hour or two makes a difference in getting more quality time over the holiday break.” —Alexandre Mestdagh, a real estate attorney in Florida
“As a lawyer that owns her own business unplugging from work is always hard, but it’s especially tricky during the holidays when additional pressures rack up. I know that unplugging and enjoying is a must, and so I do make a conscious effort to do so. Online shopping during down times during the workday helps with the additional holiday pressure; cutting myself a break on many holiday obligations and parties also helps. But, the best thing I find is to force myself to take days off mid-week during the holiday season just to breathe and catch up with friends. I also try to keep in mind that the best gift I can give my family is my attention.” —Jessica Paluch Hoerman, founder of a firm in Illinois that serves as safety advocates, focusing on researching side effects from drugs and complications from devices
“I commit myself to being fully engaged at every moment. When I am working, I work. But I also schedule family time, personal time, and vacation time and commit to that as well. This way I know I am going to get my mind off work every so often and do something just for myself. In fact, I scheduled time in my calendar this week to go see the new Star Wars movie, because those three hours away from the office will recharge me to focus on three hours on work. And I won’t feel guilty doing either one.” —James Ruane, a DUI defense attorney in Connecticut
“With the nature of work I perform on a daily basis, taking a mental break to re-energize myself is essential to living a healthy and balanced life. I’m a firm believer that you must take time off when you are able; not only to benefit your life but to also improve your productiveness and the quality of work you provide to your clients. This holiday season my wife and I will be attending our neighborhood holiday party. We will use this time to catch up with old friends and meet new ones while making homemade ravioli and decorating holiday sugar cookies. For Christmas this year, I’ve planned a road trip from Houston, Texas to Durango, Colorado with my family. In the spirit of Christmas, we’ll all be sipping hot chocolate in our PJ’s on the town railroad’s Polar Express among other festivities such as sleighing, skiing and walking the loveable small-town streets of Durango. As for New Year’s Eve with four little ones, my family and I will likely enjoy grape juice and watching the ball drop in Eastern Time from our Houston home before heading to bed.” —Cody Linn, a personal injury lawyer in Houston
“I calendar personal time just as I would calendar a client meeting. I do not reschedule client meetings I’ve calendared unless a true emergency arises in one of my cases, and I take the same attitude toward personal time that I’ve calendared. The same is true for time that I’ve calendared for general relaxation, for catching up with friends, and—most importantly—for spending time with my wife.” —Chad Ruback, an appellate lawyer in Dallas
“I have learned the hard way (by suffering serious burnout) that in order to be a sane and effective lawyer, one must do three things: First, impose strict limitations on yourself to only check email during certain hours. For me, that’s normal business hours, and in general, not at all during weekends, holidays, and vacation. Second, notify all clients in advance that you will not be available for a specified period of time and invite clients to call your office to arrange a conference call to be put on your calendar to discuss any pressing matters that they wish to discuss before your time off. And finally, actually adhere to #1 and 2 above. No cheating! Sometimes I actually uninstall my email account from my devices so that I am not tempted to look at them.” —Christina Previte, a family law attorney in New Jersey
Kristin Johnson is an executive and corporate communications professional, and founder of KSJ Communications, a communications and public relations firm. She consults with a diverse roster of clients spanning the technology, professional services, financial services, public sector, consumer, and healthcare industries. In addition to Rocket Matter, Johnson writes for various other publications as well.