Most successful people have developed the habit of putting work before play. After all, most of us of a certain age were taught that we had to eat all our dinner first if we wanted any dessert. (Does anyone even sit down to dinner anymore?)
The ability to delay gratification is one of the hallmarks of maturity, and it’s what enabled most of us to obtain our law license, but when you force yourself to work, or think and worry about work, all your waking hours for weeks or months on end, the result will almost certainly be inefficiency, stress, depression and, eventually, burnout. You’ll be much more productive in the long run if you pace yourself and set aside regular time for rest and recreation. (At any rate, that’s my excuse for no blog posts for the last 2 weeks.)
We all know that work expands to fill the time available, so set a definite “quittin’ time” for yourself each day, and stick to it. Also, if you make a habit of coming to the office on Saturday or Sunday to clear up and get ready for the upcoming week (And what lawyer doesn’t?), allow yourself to take at least one weekend per month off. Plan something that you really, really will enjoy for that weekend. Resurrect and old hobby or just take a quiet walk or a bike ride. Anything that will make your soul sing.
Knowing that you have only a limited amount of time in which to complete your work, as well as having something truly fun to look forward to, will help you stay more focused during the time you have allotted for work.
Though the context is a little different, the unknown author of “I Shall Not Pass This Way Again” said it best. Make room for a small amount of leisure time for yourself today, and make the most of it. You’ll be a better lawyer for it, and your clients will thank you.