Friday afternoons seem to inspire the theme, weekend rest vs. urgent case assignments.
Especially for summer associates and first year attorneys, June to August can be hot, tiresome months. While friends are lounging on the beaches of California and hiking up the hillsides of Colorado, the only mountain law associates see over summer is one of towering paperwork.
During these times, it’s easy to experience the associate burnout blues. Like the phone plan used to cancel dinner reservations and family holidays, unlimited nights and weekends working on cases is an accepted part of this chosen profession.
However, instead of over-stressing about your deadlines, try implementing these five steps to prevent summer burnout.
1. Create A Problem/Solution List.
In just two columns, associates can determine what aspects of the job are most stressing, and then find solutions to quell them. Many times seemingly daunting tasks can be simplified once written down.
Whether it be complex efficiency issues in the office, or simply inadequate caffeination in the evenings (Problem: Excessive tiredness. Solution: 9:55pm coffee runs before Starbucks closes), a simple problem/solution chart can go a long way.
2. Seek Assistance.
Many associates overlook the potential of their legal assistant. First year associates are eager to impress law firm partners by tackling entire cases alone. However, don’t be afraid to delegate.
Make specific, achievable tasks for your paralegal to accomplish between 9 and 5 so that you can be home at a reasonable hour. Remember, getting legal writing done well is better than getting it all done yourself. Being able to manage a complex work schedule is part of the first-year associate test, in addition to a skill equity partners will be more impressed to see.
The same goes for home life. Why argue with loved ones over laundry when, for a small fee, you can just send it out?
3. Visit With Friends And Family.
It may be tempting to bail on family dinner when you know there’s still hours of work to be completed. But, spending thirty minutes with friends or your spouse is enough to rejuvenate even the most burntout family man.
4. Take Time To Telecommute.
We’ve discussed the benefits of FLEX scheduling and attorney autonomy before. Now it’s time to put it into action. You may not have attended your daughter’s soccer game, but you can at least oversee her homework (or tuck her into bed) by telecommuting a few nights during tough weeks.
5. Attend Work Happy Hours
Finally, don’t skip out on work social events. Office life will improve once you get to know your peers. Also, comparing war stories with colleagues can be both cathartic and refreshing. Otherwise, at least your mojito will be.