As lawyers, it has become a habit to talk about how we don’t have enough time. We want more time to bill clients, to build our businesses, to be with our families, and to pursue interests outside of the law. We want that elusive work-life balance. You already know that taking care of yourself is important and can help your law practice – but why it is difficult to commit to regular wellness practices?
It is difficult for lawyers to commit to ourselves because we were trained to look at all time as billable! Law is a professional service dedicated to helping others based on time. And there is literally not enough time to serve the needs of our clients. And so we serve to the point of our own exhaustion, anxiety, depression, illness, sleep disturbance, digestive problems, and perhaps a feeling of lack of purpose. When we are constantly reacting to the needs of others, we can forget why we are doing it in the first place.
The irony is that letting others (even clients) dictate our priorities and time management leads to inefficiency and impairs productivity. By controlling our time and energy, we can accomplish more, serve better, and still have something left over to have a personal life. Sound like something you want?
To move from the self-imposed feeling of lack (of time) to a more expansive view of possibilities, we have to learn a new skill.
To move from the self-imposed feeling of lack (of time) to a more expansive view of possibilities, we have to learn a new skill. And lawyers know how to learn new skills. We in fact relish the opportunity to take on something new and eventually get good at it. We like a challenge. And we are willing to put in the time and effort. We see the intrinsic rewards and there are often external rewards too.
Gaining back control of your time is no different. Actually, it is not an entirely new skill you are learning. You are remembering what it means to be operating from your center. This centering will become more and more natural as you practice. And the rewards are infinite. Coming from a centered place, you will make better choices about how to care for yourself, and how to care for others. By being intentional and empowered with your choices with time, you will better be able to focus on what is important.
I created the New Billable Hour system to help lawyers learn how to shift your perspective and gain back control of your time. The system is a step-by-step process for how to bill yourself one hour per day first, before billing clients.
There are 6 lessons that make up the New Billable Hour:
By now we know that the benefits of even 6 minutes of meditation are profound. Increased clarity, focus, and attention are just a few ways that resting your mind into the present moment will help your law practice.
2. Take a Lunch Break.
We often forget to eat lunch or eat while working. By taking even 12 minutes to do nothing but calmly eat a mid-day meal, you will see improvements in your stress level, stability in your energy level, and decreased gastrointestinal issues.
3. Start the day with a Morning Routine.
If you start your day in a reactive mode instead of intentionally setting the stage for success, your law practice suffers. When you wake up, invest the time to have a 12-minute energizing routine before you get on technology.
4. End the day with a Night Routine.
Restful sleep comes from winding down at the end of the day. Create a 12-minute nighttime routine that grounds you and promotes relaxation so the nervous system is calm and you can sleep peacefully.
5. Include Movement with Breath.
We know that exercise is important, but it is even more important to connect body with breath for about 12 minutes per day. This can be in a yoga practice, or taking a walk or run. Try to move your body distraction-free and focus on your breath. Notice the difference.
6. Connect with Nature.
Being at a computer all day disconnects us from the beautiful natural world around us. Taking 6 minutes each day to watch the clouds go by, walk in a park, or even water a plant, will align you to time and space and bring you needed perspective.
Even though in today’s modern world we want fast results, true change takes time. Undoing our unhelpful habits for a life with clearer purpose and intention requires small consistent lifestyle changes. That being said, I have seen incredible results in just weeks with lawyers I work with, when they earnestly implement this program into their life and work routines.