We’re kicking off our new blog with a five-part series from Ava Chisling, media lawyer and award-winning author, editor and advertising copywriter.
The first two posts appeared on July 18, 2022. With the balance coming over the next two weeks.
Follow along as Ava examines the link between life, work, and happiness for legal professionals.
Time keeps on ticking…
So far in our series on the lives of legal professionals, we’ve determined that it’s not money and status that make you happiest at work – it’s having control over the kind of tasks you do and how you accomplish them. The same goes for our work space. You haven’t been more productive these past years because you were surrounded by loved ones, a comfy couch and super cute pets. It’s the control you have had over your space and your tasks that made a difference – and that control makes your job and personal satisfaction go way up – at home, in the office, anywhere.
Today, we look at our relationship to time and see if that too, has a direct relationship to the amount of control we have over it. If, over the course of a day, you are busy working on mandates given to you by others, to be completed in a manner dictated by others, this can lead to frustration and job dissatisfaction. Big time. And that can lead to further bad things, like poor work, poor health and overall disdain for law as a whole. Most of us know at least one legal professional like this. Often we know many. Sometimes just about everyone.
Your work as pies
Look at it this way: If your regular workday was reflected as a pie graph, how many pieces would you see at the end of the day? Would there be a lot of slices of varying sizes, indicating that many of your tasks were accomplished as needed? Or would there be one or two giant slices – meaning you’ve spent a lot of time on a few projects – leaving you with one super packed pie to deal with the next day? And the next.
Over the course of your very busy days, filled with clients and billing and bosses, so many meetings and sometimes court, if you find yourself wondering where time went, it may mean you’re not the one in control of it in the first place.
Because if you were, you would know how it was spent.
And if you can take back at least some of the control you have over your own time, you could adjust the number of tasks and the kinds of tasks you tackle in a day – and more importantly, decide how they get accomplished.
If someone else is telling you how to get things done, you may feel like you’re never done. And this affects your morale. Your work. Your personal life. Everything. It is classic law stress. So stop that. Take a moment to sort out where you’re spending your time, why you’re spending it this way and fix it in a way that suits you.
The true you
Whether you tackle 100 small projects in a day or two large ones is less important than whether the work you’re doing fits with who you are and where your priorities lie. You want to be the one to decide what to approach first and how to accomplish it. Your choices have to be in the best interest of your clients of course, and you: your personal life, your objectives, your goals.
So it’s time to rearrange not only the size and order of your pie pieces, but how they are placed there. Assess the work that you’re doing and how you’re accomplishing each task. Does it make sense? Is there an easier way? Are there tools or systems that would make your life easier? Less complicated. And by rearranging your pie pieces and how they got there, you’ll have more time for yourself, more time to be productive, and definitely more satisfied with the work you’re doing.
How you get through each day should be up to you. As a professional, you know how you work better than anyone else and what processes will make a difference in your work. So make choices that give you better quality of work, less stress and more confidence. Seek out the tools and processes that can help you gain control of your time.
Failing to do this can lead to a lot of loss: time, money, clients, your health. Projects that require your attention may be set aside. Other jobs that should only take an hour are suddenly still in front of you at 5pm. Plus feeling like you’re lost doesn’t help. If you are not in control over your schedule, tasks and time-management, your days and nights can feel heavy. A burden.
Turn this around, even slightly, and everything will feel lighter.