The last couple of months have been a long haul for everyone. The shift from the office then back (maybe) to the office. Homeschooling with no childcare. Long days at home. Being isolated but at the same time, totally connected via social media and messaging apps.
It’s no wonder that you’re feeling fatigued and maybe a bit unmotivated. Yet even in the middle of a pandemic and an economic downturn, it’s possible to revive flagging motivation and refocus on growing your practice.
Connect with other professionals
Whether you’re still in social distancing mode or you’re back at the office, connecting with other professionals can reinvigorate you immensely. Take a virtual coffee break with your coworkers. Reconnect on LinkedIn with your law school classmates.
Food for thought: Consider branching outside of the legal field when seeking out connections. Cross-pollinating with other industries can be really fruitful. Consider where your practice area and your personal interests might intersect with others and explore new conversations.
…and build a team
If you run a solo shop or a small firm, now is a good opportunity to build a community with other practitioners in the same situation. Facebook and LinkedIn groups are a perfect platform for sharing information, fostering dialogue, and strengthening your legal community. (And can also do wonders for your referral network.)
Does this feel like it might chafe against your competitive nature? There’s no need to stay in your immediate geographical – or practice – area. While there are benefits to keep your focus specific – understanding the intricacies of state laws, practice-area specific regulations, and the like-new perspectives can actually be more mentally refreshing.
Pick a backburner project
Every lawyer – actually, pretty much any professional – has a laundry list of projects that they’ve always planned on getting around to. It could be something as straightforward as penning that blog post. It could be something as involved as reviewing your client onboard progress. But how many of us reliably get around to them?
If your motivation for day-to-day work has dwindled, maybe it’s time to put a pin in what you were working on and tackle one or two of those ideas. (Assuming you’re still on track for time-sensitive issues, of course.) Taking on a project that you’ve been mulling over for a while can inject some excitement into your workday.
Word to the wise: Choose any new project carefully. While it’s easy to get excited about new ideas (or new-to-your-to-do-list ones, anyway), make sure to budget time and energy accordingly so you don’t fizzle out.
Track your work (and celebrate your milestones)
Let’s talk a little more about the day-to-day. Off the top of your head, what are you accomplishing? Even when you’re really busy and really productive, your progress can get lost in a blur if you’re not tracking it. Not exactly motivating, right?
But you can turn that feeling around by developing a system for tracking your progress on your work. There are lots of great options, from simple checklists to more robust project management software.
And don’t forget to take a minute to acknowledge the work you’re accomplishing. Your work doesn’t take place in a vacuum – it has an impact on your clients, your law firm, and you. A mini-celebration can be a big morale boost.
Build breaks into your work
No matter what, you still need breaks. Real breaks, the kind where you unplug from your computer. (Physically and mentally) While everyone relishes the big, relaxing break of a long weekend or holiday, it’s important to build breaks into your workday on a regular basis. Studies show that taking these small breaks increases your productivity and stamina for projects.
One approach that has picked up steam recently is the Pomodoro technique, which alternates 25-minute work sprints with 5-minute breaks. (And a 30-minute break after four rounds of this.)
Even if you use a different method, don’t stay glued to your computer all day. Get up and stretch. Take your dog for a walk. Tend your houseplants. If you’re back in the office, do some office yoga. Giving your brain some breathing space lets you return to your tasks with a fresher outlook.
Motivation is a moving target. It’s difficult to sustain it forever, even for the most enthusiastic lawyer. But when you find ways to refocus and re-energize, it’s entirely possible to bring new life into your daily work.