You’re working from home and you’re not really sure when you’re going back to the office. We sympathize – the ambiguity is tough on both personal and professional levels.
One of the challenges of working from home is also one of its benefits – increased productivity. Studies have shown that WFH-ers work an average of 1.4 days a month more and 29% of them struggle with work/life balance.
On the flip side, work can be a solace for those feeling anxious about the current state of things. So how do you keep yourself busy without working yourself into the ground? How about using some of the time to build skills that will benefit your professional life – but doesn’t involve writing briefs?
Lawyers are good at so many things, but law school doesn’t teach you how to run a business. Even if you have been in charge of a practice for years, you likely learned a lot on the fly.
Getting smart in finances is an invaluable competency for legal professionals. Get a solo practice off the ground? Gain insight into how legalities affect a client’s financial position? Parse your firm’s financial statements without breaking a sweat? Building up your financial repertoire will give your work life a boost.
Where do you get started? Try these three resources:
- Lynda.com – Finance & Training Tutorials
- New York Bar – Small Firm Resources
- Purdue University’s Planning for a Secure Retirement course
Brush up on technology
Unless you work in the IT field, staying on top of technology is hard for any busy professional. A little skill building in this area can go a long way, though. There’s no need to learn how to code or admin a network. Instead, focus on refining knowledge of issues that can affect your clients and your industry. A recent survey by Robert Half Legal highlighted the following as the top three areas of technology for lawyers to know:
- Cybersecurity: 48%
- Data analytics: 43%
- eDiscovery: 33%
While topics like cybersecurity and data analytics are complex topics, you can find a number of resources that break them down for non-specialists. Try these sites for a helpful introduction.
- Udemy: Cybersecurity Course for Beginners, Introduction to Data Science
- Cybrary: Introduction to IT & Cybersecurity, Intro to Data Science
- eDiscovery Team Training
Even with remote working, business and relationships will still grow based on interpersonal skills. Clients and colleagues prefer to work with people they trust, who makes them feel good, with whom they feel a kinship – and all of these things come from good communication.
Lawyers have reputations for being hard-driving and analytical. According to Eva Wisnik, president of the legal training and placement firm Wisnik Career Enterprises, 60 percent are introverts. While many introverts have great interpersonal skills, communication can be a greater challenge, but it’s not insurmountable.
How do you get started? Take a self-assessment test to evaluate what areas of interpersonal skills could use the most improvement.
Much like financial skills, marketing practices aren’t typically addressed in the law school curriculum. However, if you have a grasp of basic marketing principles and practices, you can make a big difference in the operations and growth of your firm, no matter what your role is. And not only will you have the skills to help your firm, but you’ll also have the ability to grow your own personal brand.
Consider tackling these projects during this stay-at-home period to get the wheels turning about how you can position yourself.
Lawyers are at high risk for burnout, and the rate of burnout may actually increase during stay-at-home orders if we aren’t careful.
Practicing good self-care right now can help keep you energized and motivated. Self-care means good nutrition, good sleep habits, and good exercise. It means taking meaningful breaks from your work. It also means making sure you’re:
- Setting boundaries
- Avoiding a perfectionist mindset
- Delegating (and then delegating some more!)
Self-care won’t necessarily cure burnout, but it can prevent it. If you feel like you’re experiencing burnout right now, it’s important to talk to your mentor or a counselor for guidance on the best way to move forward.
A few thoughts to consider, though. The pandemic and global shutdown have been heavy weights to bear for everyone, robbing us all of our normal routines and upending our expectations for the future. It’s a lot to process.
While quarantine can be a great opportunity to hit the reset button, learn new skills, and pursue personal growth, it’s also more than fine to take this time to focus just on taking good care of yourself and your family.