Lawyer life can be stressful. You get so busy that sometimes you wish you were still a kid, enjoying recess, summer vacation and of course, nap time. We may no longer have the benefit of a forced break, but that doesn’t mean that us lawyers can’t take a break from the billable hour to channel our inner child. Sometimes all you need is a Point One break- 0.1 hour or 6 minutes off from the billable hour to be a kid again and bask in the simple joys reminiscent of childhood.
Did you know that adult coloring books are a thing now? And a popular thing at that! Buzzfeed features 16 coloring books that are fitting for adults (although there’s nothing wrong with snagging a page from your kid’s coloring book). Aside from being an activity that can be accomplished in as much time as you desire, coloring books are relaxing way to take a break and to channel some of the free spirited creativity we may have lost along the road to adulthood. So grab a coloring book and get to coloring. And now that we’re adults, there is no one to tell us we have to color in the lines or that a giraffe can’t be pink. Adulthood does have its perks.
I remember people telling me that lawyers are never as smart as they are on the last day of the bar exam. After the last performance test, many of the subjects tested on the bar exam unrelated to one’s future practice area become nothing more than faint memories. We become very focused on our specialties and forget just how much we used to know about other subjects, and not just those covered in law school. Sometimes all you need is a Point One break- 0.1 hour or 6 minutes off from the billable hour to test your smarts.
Enter Sporcle, the online trivia website. Although not as exciting as trivia night at your local bar^, it’s a great way to see just how much you remember about long forgotten subjects like famous art, geography or world history. My favorite are the minute morsel quizzes, which are 1 minute quizzes that test your knowledge of things like country names that include a given set of three letters. Sporcle is a convenient way to take a billable break without leaving your office plus challenge your smarts in a non-law related way. As Sir Francis Bacon said: ipsa scientia potestas est- knowledge itself is power.
^ Side Note: If you haven’t done trivia night at your local bar, add this to your livables list of things to do. Fair warning, if you do decide to partake in Tuesday Trivia at Rose & Crown in Palo Alto, get ready to compete against some seriously brilliant minds as this bar tends to draw in the Stanford PhD and graduate student crowd.
Mother’s Day is around the corner. Despite that acute awareness, I haven’t been able to get out of the office to buy a token of my appreciation for my wonderful mother. Thankfully nowadays we rarely have to leave our desk to procure anything. Here are 5 suggestions for a mother’s day gift for working moms from working moms.
Fun Print for Her Office
Given how many hours she spends in the office each day, a fun print to provide motivation and humor is well deserved. The above print is from Etsy which has countless prints for sale or even for download and print if you have a nice printer at the office.
In case your favorite working mom haven’t caved to the joy that is Amazon Prime, this is a perfect gift. Not only does she get free two day shipping on countless items, but it comes with music and movie/tv streaming.
Coffee Gift Card
For the coffee dependent working mom, you can’t go wrong with a coffee gift card. Whether she’s tired from a 10 hour drafting session or from a teething toddler, a caffeine boost can go a long way to brighten her day. And bonus for you, you can pick up the coffee card while you’re stopping for your own needed cup of coffee. Here’s my list of favorite coffee places in Palo Alto.
Snack Box Subscription
Subscription boxes have been all the rage for awhile, but my favorite is still the snack box subscription. Who doesn’t love getting a box of delicious snacks. Send your favorite working mom a monthly gift she can enjoy each month and which saves her from having to resort to vending machine snacks.
In Home (or In Office) Beauty Session
Every mom loves to be pampered but sometimes it’s just impossible to get out of the office or the house. Bring the beauty session straight to her by scheduling a stylist or manicurist to do an in home or in office beauty session. There are apps like GlamSquad (operating in Los Angeles, New York and Miami) which is like an Uber for beauty, or salons who directly send a member of their beauty team.
The corporate life can get monotonous at times. We get into a routine and it can be easy to forget to appreciate the little things. Sometimes all you need is a Point One break- 0.1 hour or 6 minutes off from the billable hour to appreciate the little things that make you happy.
I like to take a break from the billable hour to do an Instagram happy challenge. I love taking photos of the little things at work that make me happy, like a surprise of chocolate bacon goodness from a colleague who knows that bacon is the ultimate joy. I find that taking and sharing a snapshot of what makes me happy is not only a very relaxing way to take a break from the billable hour, but it also fosters happiness in others when they comment on the photo or decide to join in on the challenge with me. If taking a break to Instagram (and then subsequently devour) a chocolate bacon concoction isn’t happiness I don’t know what is.
Proof that a job is only as boring as you choose it to be.
Daniel Williams made an awesome parody of the GoPro commercials. Rather than using the GoPro to film an extreme sport in some exotic destination, he used it to film a typical office work day. The video has over 1 million views on YouTube with many viewers commenting how their terrible job is just as boring as Williams’ job. I think this video definitely shows how life in the corporate world can involve some mundane and repetitive tasks, but your job is really what you make of it. I’m sure Williams’ day of filming was much more interesting compared to other days he spent in the office. With the right perspective and attitude, any job can have elements of excitement to it. They may not all be GoPro film worthy, but at least you’ll walk out of the office much happier.
Harpers Bazaar recently published an article by Matilda Kahl where the art director discussed her choice to wear the same outfit to work every day and how this choice to simplify her work attire has made her life much less stressful. It is an interesting article, particularly because it seems counter intuitive for a woman in a creative industry with license to wear anything to choose to don the same uniform to work each day. But her choice to simplify her life makes sense.
The article got me thinking about the uniform I wear every day to work. Law firms tend to be a conservative place. Although practicing law on the West Coast means freedom from wearing a business suit, lawyers still have to look professional. I love fashion but have to balance that with the unspoken conservative dress code and the lack of time (and frankly the unwillingness to waste time) to labor over the daily question of what to wear. My solution is a curated work wardrobe of my favorite staple- the dress.
Wearing a dress means I only have to pick one item of clothing. I pick a dress, slip on heels and I am ready to go. If I have a client meeting that day, I throw on the traditional black blazer that hangs in my office. If I have extra time in the morning and feel inspired, I can always experiment with layering jewelry, adding a waist defining belt or sporting a higher heel. The dress gives me some creative freedom but doesn’t have multiple degrees of freedom to result in paralysis by analysis each morning.
There have been those busy weeks where I have completely lost touch with the news of the world. Listening to the news during commute time has been replaced with teleconferences, and scanning the headlines on my phone has been replaced with scans of my calendar to figure out where I need to go next and if I have time to get my third cup of coffee. Sometimes all you need is a Point One break- 0.1 hour or 6 minutes off from the billable hour to get a quick news catch up on what is happening in the world.
Catch up with the biggest headlines of the week and the craziest stories in a fun way by listening to the last segment of the NPR program Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me called Lightening Fill in the Blanks. Guests of the program are given a prompt with a word or phrase missing about the latest news. In the time it takes to walk from your car to your office, you can get caught up on the latest happenings and a few needed laughs as the guests make light of some of the more ridiculous news stories.
As a working mom, one of the things I frequently put off is organizing all our family photos and mementos into scrapbooks or albums. Like many people, I am guilty of taking countless photos and then doing nothing with them. I always vow to take time over the weekend to have the photos printed and organized, but with work and the hectic present, it can be hard to take a moment and appreciate the past. Sometimes all you need is a Point One break- 0.1 hour or 6 minutes off from the billable hour to scrapbook some family memories.
Thankfully there are products like Project Life and A Beautiful Mess Scrapbooks and photo printing/mailing services like Costco, Shutterly and MPix that make scrapbook sessions quick and effortless. I can just slip photos into the plastic pockets, glue ticket stubs to pre-cut paper inserts and scribble comments of my favorite memories. Simple scrapbook sessions are a great way to take a quick break from the billables plus cross something off your to-do list. Plus, if you’ve ever finished a scrapbook or photo album, you know how strangely satisfying it feels. 60 page merger agreement drafted kind of satisfying.
Flying with a baby is a challenge unto itself but trying to work during a flight with your baby is a true test of multitasking ability. With a little advanced preparation and a bit of luck, you can get work done with your little one in tow.
5 tips for working while flying with a baby
Tip #1: Leave Early and Work from Airport
Babies and billable work are both unpredictable, so I always aim to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours in advance and work from the airport if needed.
Tip #2: Invest in a Mobile Hotspot or Learn to Use Your Phone as a Personal Hotspot
Most airports have a free or paid wireless option at the airport, but I find that these are not always reliable or the speed is so slow with people passing the time watching Netflix that Citrix refuses to load. Having a mobile hotspot or using my phone as a hotspot is a good way to ensure I will have internet connection to fire off any important emails while waiting at the airport.
Tip #3: Use a Diaper Backpack and a Small Crossbody Bag
I opt to use a diaper backpack when traveling, as it’s large enough to fit all of baby’s necessities plus my work laptop. To make check in and security clearance easy, I use a small crossbody bag to hold my wallet, cell phone and boarding pass. I have never been stopped for having 3 carry-on bags (roller bag, diaper backpack and crossbody bag), but I always make sure the diaper backpack has a little extra space where I can stuff my crossbody bag just in case.
Tip #4: Sit in a Window Seat on Your Non-Dominant Side
I am right handed so I make sure I sit in a window seat on pilot’s left side of the plane so I can cradle the baby on my left arm with his head near the window. This protects the baby from traffic in the aisle and potential spilled drinks, plus allows me to hold a pen to easily mark up agreements during the flight.
Tip #5: Go Old School with a Pen and Paper
Working on a laptop is nearly impossible with a baby in your lap or even a small child next to you. There isn’t a lot of space in economy seating, plus baby hands and milk are a constant moving target. To make the most of limited space, I print out the agreements I need to review or bring a legal pad with me and do any revisions or drafting the old school way. Pen and paper are also easier to stow at the end of the flight when there is the mad rush to make sure the baby is feeding to protect their little ears.