In biglaw, the work demands are either feast or famine; some days you twiddle your thumbs as you bill a paltry 2.5 hours and worry that you will never meet your billable requirements. Other days (like this entire last month for me) you are glued to your screen as you bill 15 hours each day and worry about every particular of the countless deals you’re staffed on. One thing I’ve realized is that try as we might, it is near impossible to control the work demands. Billable work comes and goes and we just go with the flow. That uncertainty can be hard for lawyers and I know that I’ve personally struggled with that. I try to find solace in areas I can control. Here are 3 tips for lawyers to feel in control even when you’re not:
Tip 1: Feel in Control by Controlling Coffee Quality at Home
Coffee for me is essential. I love going out for coffee (See my Palo Alto Coffee Guide), but when work is at an all time high, finding even 15 minutes to detour for coffee can be challenging. I can’t always control when I can take coffee breaks at the office, but I can control the process for how I make coffee at home. I take the time to use filtered water, use a grinder to grind up some fresh beans, and enjoy my cup of coffee in a nice cup or coffee tumbler. Being able to control how I make my morning cup of coffee makes me feel like my mornings are just a little better.
Tip 2: Feel in Control by Controlling Your Running Speed
Running for me is therapeutic. Even if I only have 15 minutes between conference calls I will change into running gear and do a quick run outside. I can’t always control when I will be able to run or for how long, but I can always control my running speed when I do. I use the short running sessions for sprints, running as fast as I can back and forth on the block where my office is. I use the longer running sessions for pace runs, running at a challenging pace but not one where I feel out of breath. Being able to control how fast I run during each session makes me feel like I have more control over my exercise regiment and my therapy time.
Tip 3: Feel in Control by Controlling the Last Thing You Read
Like most attorneys, I find myself logging in a few hours of billable work in the evening after I get home. With cross border transactions and rush deadlines, the emails and drafting never really seem to stop. I can’t always control how late I work, but I can control the last thing I read before it’s lights out. I like to ensure that the last thing I read isn’t a work related email. Rather, I read an article from a magazine or flip open to a random page of a book of quotes on motherhood my parents gave me. Being able to control the last words I read make me feel like I have ended my day on my terms and I’m ready to face the next one.