WHAT’S ALL THE EXCITEMENT ABOUT WORK/LIFE BALANCE?

While watching 60 Minutes, I saw the President’s then  Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel being interviewed about his life and work. He happily told the public that he works 7 days a week and only has time to see his three kids at 5:15am during his morning swim. He didn’t even mention his wife. He went on to tell us that he has been told that Chiefs of Staff never last out their terms and that he should be interviewing his successor now ( buuuuurn outttttttt).  Of course he did go onto become governor but I don’t think he slowed down.

HP_1 Hufffff, I said to myself…..Time Management’s reward is BALANCE in your life. This man is actually proud not to have any balance in his life. He simply works and stays healthy with a little exercise with an early morning swim so he can keep working.

Then I said to myself….”How many of us as lawyers have wished our family, friends and obligations other than work would just disappear, so we could WORK IN PEACE?” I certainly have. The burden of work can sometimes displace all other rational thinking and leave our lives so unbalanced that we wake up one day without a family, friends or all the other goodies life has to offer. Frequently the excuse is that I will just finish this piece of work and then I will have time for all the other things.

The problem, however, is that lawyering can become addictive because we frequently get a lot of goodies from practicing. We get money, colleagues admiration, and feelings of accomplishing something on a regular basis. Sometimes we are so appreciative of work that we have produced through our own marketing efforts that we extend ourselves way too far in trying to accommodate our clients.

So what’s the answer to “I wish I had more time to balance out my life”. As the song goes “all you have is time, time ” and choices. Perhaps it might help to not look at time but to look at the energy that it takes to accomplish something. How much energy does it take to prepare a Summary Judgment compared to taking your kids to the zoo? It might take about the same amount of time, but the energy needed to concentrate on writing and research is way more than getting in the car and spending the day at the zoo.

So maybe part of the answer is to increase your energy, not your time. If you can prepare the Summary Judgment in half the amount of time it used to take you, then you have that increased time to spend with the family, which takes less energy. Actually taking the kids for an outing might give you more energy for completing the required work because you have given your brain a rest and it can now focus better, allowing you to do the work in less time.

Certainly planning, goal setting and good time management can increase your energy, because it takes the worry out of what to do next. Just indicating what areas of your life are important is the first step. Setting goals and indicating which goals will take a lot of energy or little energy is the next step.

Unfortunately for most of us, increase in energy also has its basis in the dreaded EXERCISE. I know, I know, everyone tells you to put it in your daily calendar, just like an appointment( good luck with that one!). However, maybe if you can look at it as increasing your energy (which it does) you can look at it as giving you the ability to do your high energy tasks more efficiently and with less time. How many studies have we read that shows how exercise affects every area of your life. UGH! It’s the awful truth.

So take care and have a really high energy life …..and be sure to make that trip to the zoo so you can watch the monkeys doing funny tricks while you’re bonding with the kids.