I came to a horrible realisation a few weeks ago.
It turns out that the last time I had a holiday of more than one or two days was last October. Nearly a year! And when I mentioned this to others, a surprising number of lawyers, suppliers and colleagues had similar stories to tell.
There seems to have been a period where a huge number of people just threw themselves into work, because there wasn’t much else to do.
The problem with that is that slowly but surely your reserves deplete and you become less effective, more easily distracted, stressed and in the end potentially burnt out.
I spoke with an expert on these things- Leah Steele, founder of Searching For Serenity, whose client base includes many people In the legal industry. She explained that burnout arises as a result of chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed. She says “It’s important to take proper breaks from work. Planning relaxing, refuelling or energising activities is one of the best ways to support ourselves.”
The problem with working from home brings the additional risk that we close the laptop and then immediately start on home admin and garden work etc.
Leah says it’s important to give yourself permission to just enjoy your spare time.
I’ve spoken with lots of lawyers, particularly in smaller practices, where they find it incredibly difficult to switch off. In one recent conversation it transpired that the managing partner of a small but high quality boutique law firm was doing the firm’s cashiering herself at the weekend. Not surprisingly she was shattered!
I think holidays are a bit like a power up on a computer game. It’s entirely possible to crawl along with very low energy reserves, believing that it’s for the best. AT that stage however, even the slightest problem feels insurmountable, and a sudden need for urgency can feel overwhelming. However a proper break with, dare I say it, minimal use of mobile phones and emails will mean that your reserves are fully restored, and once past the initial pile of emails waiting for you on your return, your focus will be back. You’ll be less likely to snap at junior staff. Your attention to detail will be there again. You will have rediscovered your mojo!
Another thing- have two weeks off if possible. I spoke with a Managing Partner today who said that the first week of two week holidays was about healing. The second was when they really felt like they were getting back to optimal mental and physical energy levels.
So is that it, Holt? You may say….”Have a holiday”. Hardly startling words of wisdom.
You’re probably right…but then why are so many people not holidaying this year?