As lawyers, our energy is usually not stable or even. What I mean is, we usually can’t count on feeling great and at our best all day – or can we? In order to be productive throughout the day, we must pace ourselves. You’ve heard the saying many times before: “This is a marathon, not a sprint.” This is especially true for lawyers. To be a lawyer with a life, you must know how to manage your energy. If you cannot manage it, burnout and health consequences will result. So how do we create a life where we are not exhausted and drained by 4pm?
These 5 ways to manage your energy throughout your work day will lead to productivity, wellness, and balance for a long satisfying career:
- Start the Day. In order to stabilize your energy all day, be sure to start it right. Do you typically jump out of bed and keep running until you are empty? This method will surely lead to exhaustion. How about mindfully starting each day with energetic intention? Develop a morning routine that energizes you. This may mean exercise, journaling, reading something inspirational, or spending quality time with loved ones. Beginning your day by harnessing your energy will help you have more of it all day.
- Take Breaks. Seems so simple, doesn’t it? Just take a break. But seriously, you need to have plenty of time in your day away from work to extend your energy reserves. Taking breaks will fill up your energy tank you after you expend some on a nice productive work session. So regularly remember to breathe, get up, walk around, hydrate, and use the restroom to re-energize yourself!
- Eat Lunch. For many cultures, lunch was traditionally the main meal of the day. It was customary to take a long break in the middle of the day, to eat a nourishing meal, and spend time with others. However, this tradition has been changing and due to work demands, dinner has become the main event. Lunch has taken a back seat and well, lately is often skipped. I am sure you can imagine that no lunch is a recipe for energy disaster! When we skip lunch, we not only miss out on that needed break, but we do not fuel ourselves for the rest of the day. Without fuel, we are exhausted by mid-afternoon and make poor choices by reaching for sweets or caffeine as a pick-me-up. And well, you know about the energy crash after that.
- End the Day. Just as it is important as starting your day with energy, it is important to end your day with energy. And this doesn’t mean it that it feels the same. To the contrary, by the end of the day, we should have just enough energy to wind down. Often, we mistake that feeling for something detrimental – so we eat, drink, and be merry when we should be taking a bath and listening to bedtime stories. Consider whether watching a stimulating TV show or listening to a scary podcast is the energy you want to end your day with.
- Rest More. The ultimate way to manage your energy throughout the day is to get enough rest. I am pretty sure that we can all use some more rest. By rest, I do mean good sleep. But I also mean time doing restful activities like relaxing in nature, spending quality time with family, and simply being quiet with ourselves. Instead of using our “down time” for more activity – how about finding the confidence to do less so we can fill our energy tank for a more productive tomorrow?
To have that long satisfying legal career, we must pace ourselves and conserve our energy. This means managing our energy throughout the day for maximum productivity. So while it may feel normal to push yourself to your limits and beyond, consider a kinder gentler approach where you can see the long view of being a lawyer (with a life).