Bar Bulletin

June, 2004

LAWYER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
(410) 685-3993 | (410) 685-7878 | (800) 492-1964

Richard Vincent
Director, ext 3040
Carol P. Waldhauser
Assistant Director, ext 3041

THE LAP ZONE:
"Work vs. Life: Give Me Just a Little More Time!"

By Carol P. Waldhauser

Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late for a very important date!
- The White Rabbit,
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

For many of us in the legal profession, work often ranks as the most important aspect of our lives, our personal lives coming in a close second. It just seems that there is not enough time for both a professional and personal life. Ironically, our daily routines take on the markings of a legal case: Work Life vs. Personal Life. Some of us recant – “Give me just a little more time, then I’ll achieve the balance I need” – while others resemble the White Rabbit rushing about in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

It is abundantly clear that the legal profession demands as much time as possible; indeed, that imbalance is inherent with the practice of law. Hence, we understand “the problem” – but how do we solve it? How do we achieve a balanced life?

Personal management is the ability to prioritize, schedule, and execute responsibilities to personal satisfaction. It is a management skill taught to individuals to help them gain a sense of control over both their professional and personal lives. Personal management is a reorganization process where you manipulate factors and elements (not people) in your environment to your best advantage in order to travel the path of life balance.

Some steps to initiate personal management techniques include, but are not limited to, time strategies and time tactics. Time strategies deal with the areas in which you spend your life. Like any strategy, it is a broader plan for how your life will unfold, how you divide each day among your dominant interests. Call it time management.

You must learn to prioritize, schedule and execute. Prioritization means ranking responsibilities and tasks in the order of importance. Before this can be done, however a list of all current responsibilities must be written down. Scheduling is time allocation for prioritized responsibilities or the skill of matching specific task or responsibility with a designated time period in which to accomplish it. Execution of responsibilities is a systematic progression of steps taken toward the satisfactory completion of each priority or task.

Remember, when we cannot or do not leave work at work it cheats both our families and ourselves out of precious little down time or time that we get together.

The following is a list of possible solutions to consider.

  1. Delete a few non-essential tasks from your to-do list.

  2. Leave work on time whenever possible.

  3. Acknowledge your day’s accomplishments when you leave work.

  4. Plan your night on the drive home. Also, do something fun; pick up a gift for your family – or even your dog – before going home.

  5. Get excited about your family’s future.

Remember, you deserve to enjoy the time you spend at home, and your family deserves to enjoy you (even if that family is your dog or cat).

The following is a list of other simple things that you can do to improve your life.

  1. Find a nice place to pound the pavement and do it 20 minutes a day, three times a week. Not only will you reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, but you’ll feel incredibly smug as well.

  2. How many nights a week do you watch TV? (Be honest.) Try watching one hour less per night (or for one night less per week) than you do now. If nothing else, you’ll start working on the rest of your good resolutions.

  3. Clean the top of the refrigerator and organize the stuff that’s piled over by the phone. Getting rid of even that little bit of chaos can help the rest of your life go better.

  4. Eat dinner together with your family (or with a friend).

  5. Plan a vacation.

  6. Get away for the weekend with your family or a friend.

  7. Volunteer to help out with your children’s sporting activities or in the community.

  8. Cut back on work-related weeknight commitments.

  9. Work on projects or hobbies.

Of course, there is no such thing as perfect balance. There will be days when balance means working longer hours, spending time with family and friends, exercising or relaxing, working on a community project, handling finances…or when balance means growing spiritually. You can, however, enjoy a better balance between work and the rest of your life by monitoring your number of dominant interests and the amount of activity within each one.

Experts agree that a day filled to the brim with career and other responsibilities, leaving no time for oneself, results in burnout and possibly disease and illness. Good personal management requires you to balance your life between work and leisure. Remember that balance is essential for optimal well-being, stamina and serenity.

For more information regarding the above or other issues that negatively affect your quality of life, contact the MSBA Lawyer Assistance Program at cwaldhauser@msba.org, or call Carol Waldhauser at (410) 685-7878 or (800) 492-1964, ext. 3041. And remember, we do together what we cannot do alone!

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: June, 2004

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