By Ally Kennedy, Founder of Amiga
The holidays can be a wonderful time filled with family, food, and fun, but for lawyers our work often doesn't stop. It is hard to turn off our minds (and phones, computers, emails, etc) and truly enjoy this special time of year.
Here are a few tips I've been implementing the last few weeks to try to have a little more life and a little less work:
1. Turn In Your Phone
Most of us go to bed with our phones next to the bed and reach for them first thing in the morning. This does not allow for us to truly rest. Our minds do not get to just slow down and process anything other than work and social media if we are constantly attached to our phones. "Going dark" is not always an option, so an alternative is to have a set schedule where you "turn in" your phone. This is similar to the way that parents have teens turn in/ turn over the phone before bedtime.
I have been turning in my phone to my partner at 10pm and I don't get it back until 9am. It has made a huge difference. I am sleeping better and longer hours. I still wake up before anyone else in the house but instead of spending my time on Facebook or scrolling through email, I read, meditate, write, plan, and more. It allows me to start my day in a peaceful energy instead of the frantic energy that comes with jumping right into staring my day with work or social media.
2. Stop Repetitive "Busy" Thoughts
This tip takes some effort and I am going to give you some steps to get through it. As lawyers, mothers, and business owners and/ or employees, we have a lot going on. There is a lot to remember and a lot to do. Our thoughts about our busyness and to-do lists are running through our minds nonstop, and until we bring awareness to those thoughts, we will feel frantic, chaotic, overwhelmed, and maybe even a little out of control.
What I realized is that whenever I knew I needed to do something, I would think the thought over and over and over and over. I did this because I wanted to be sure I did not forget it. However I did not realize that this made the thought repetitive, obsessive, and made me feel very stressed. For example, I need to remember to print an extra Notice of Appearance for an immigration interview. I would first think that, and then I would think it over and over and over. "I need to print the G-28. Don't forget!" I didn't even realize I was thinking that thought over and over again. Then the more I thought it, the more frantic it would become. "If you forget that G-28, the officer may not even let you be in the interview. Then that would screw everything up for the client." "Even if the interviewer could provide you a blank copy, you'll look stupid in front of your client." And so on.
The problem is that I did not know I was thinking so obsessively like this and had no idea how this was transforming into undue stress. I know that I'm not the only person who does this, and likely many of you don't even realize that you're doing it.
Here are some steps to help reign in these repetitive, stressful thoughts:
Step 1: Bring awareness to your thoughts. Just notice what it is that you are thinking throughout the day. Our minds are like a refrigerator- they are constantly running even when we don't realize it.
Step 2: Notice when your thoughts become repetitive. What is it that you are thinking over and over?
Step 3: Acknowledge the thought. It sounds a little silly but I like to say to myself, "Okay, got it, I need to take care of that. I don't need to keep thinking that I need to do it because I know it needs to get done."
Step 4: Take Action. Action does not normally mean stop what you are doing to do that thing. Instead, take an action toward making sure you have a process to do whatever it is you are thinking needs to get done. For example, write it down in a notebook, make a note in your iPhone, use your reminders app, etc. This way, if you think the thought again, you can say, "I already have a plan in place to get that done."
I have found that it helps to tell my partner and then he writes it down. And then he helps me remember and prioritize my day. It creates accountability and also makes it a shared goal. Days get busy but he makes sure I get done those things that I needed to do. (It helps that we work together.)
Step 5: Guard Against the Rabbit Hole. The Rabbit Hole is when you decide you need to do a certain thing so you jump on your phone/ computer/ etc to do it, and then while you are there get consumed with another task and then another task and then another task, and you create more stress, busyness, and overwhelm for yourself. This is why step 4 is important because it helps keep you on track.
3. Delete Social Media Apps
If social media drains your time, delete the app so that way you are forced to login online. This is especially important if you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through your app and/or opening it just as a habit.
4. Do a Case Review
Running a case review is a quick and easy way to organize yourself and also reassure you against a freak out. Usually by running a case review you realize everything is in a much better place than you think. It's also a great way to prioritize your time and to-do list. It will let you know what needs to be done before the holidays and what can wait until you're back.
Happy Holidays! I hope that you enjoy a wonderful time of peace and unity surrounded by the people you love.