5 tips for reducing stress to survive the silly season
Research from an industry survey conducted by LEAP Legal Software, revealed that 79% of lawyers ranked achieving a work-life balance as the highest measurement of success. Is less work and stress possible over Christmas, and what are the best tips for reducing stress?
Legal practitioners are renowned for working long hours to provide legal services that result in the best possible outcomes for their clients. LEAP’s research found that for lawyers, striving to work less and enjoy life more is important to them. Read more results from LEAP’s Law Firm Insight Series.
It’s not surprising that professionals work more often as the advancement of technology has built connective bridges which are mapped to almost all components of a person’s life: from health and work, through to social interaction and services. Our minds seem to be switched on all the time.
According to the Executive Health Index Benchmark Report, which collected data from medical records (blood samples, validated health screening tools) and examinations of 30 000 executives across Australia, lawyers rank poorly (12th) on the psychological health chart. The small business industry is ranked the lowest. These statistics reflect the stress which is experienced by legal practitioners, and the impact on small law firms to consider how employees cope with work pressures.
How can lawyers find a work-life balance during the holiday season when commitments compete for their attention?
The Christmas crunch can start to take hold in early November and last through to the end of January. It’s important to think about how you will cope with your work over the summer.
Now is the time to plan for a stress-free Christmas, using these five tips for reducing stress.
1. Prioritise and schedule
Firstly, decide on how much time you will allocate to work over the Christmas period and what resources are available to you during this time.
List what tasks are important for you to achieve. Instead of focusing on large projects, perhaps break big jobs into daily or weekly tasks that are manageable.
If you are taking a break from work, plan your first week back in the office. You will be more productive when you return as you won’t be relying on your memory to determine what tasks need your attention. You will feel less stressed returning to your desk.
Choose work tasks which can wait until February 2018. Delay these tasks and advise the stakeholders.
Enter all tasks, projects, and meetings into your calendar or schedule. Allow extra time for complex projects, and re-assess your schedule regularly. You might have to re-jig your diary.
LEAP’s Jake Frykberg suggests evaluating your IT systems and performing reviews and updates during the quiet time over Christmas. You will be pleased to return to work and not experience any disruptions within your IT in the new year.
2. Make technology work for you
Your smartphone can become a better personal assistant:
- Disable app notifications that you don’t need
- Try the ‘remind me later’ feature to skip calls on your iPhone
- Use a cloud service to store important documents for easy retrieval
- Use the ‘Do not Disturb’ setting; when enabled, calls, messages and alerts that arrive while locked will be silenced. The moon icon is displayed. Choose friends and family who will be allowed to ring through – so you won’t miss hearing from them.
- Put Siri to work. Siri can: take notes, send emails, set reminders, book calendar meetings, set timers, and update you on the weather.
3. Don’t sacrifice sleep
Your health is your number one priority. If you are unwell or excessively tired during the demanding holiday season, you will notice the side effects on your performance immediately. The effects of sleep deprivation are very real and the research from the study, titled Harnessing the Web for Population-Scale Physiological Sensing: A Case Study of Sleep and Performance proves that two consecutive nights of less than six hours can leave a person lethargic for the following six days.
Recently, BHP’s CEO was quoted in the media explaining that he needed 6 1/2 to seven hours of sleep every night. More executives are promoting the need for sleep and debunking the myth that high-performing leaders must be working around the clock. If you would like to find out how many hours of sleep Australian CEOs take each night, read the article on Business Insider Australia.
Set your routine so you have access to sleep for a sufficient period of time each night. Your smartphone can help you do this.
4. Maximise talent around you
It’s quite acceptable to call in the troops. Understand the strengths of the people in your team and utilise their talents to assist you to achieve your projects. In return, be available to provide input to their tasks.
You can apply the same methods at home and ask family and friends to help you with the little jobs.
5. Take time for yourself
It might sound like a cliché, however time allocated to something enjoyable to you is vital to tackling stress over Christmas. Some good options include: physical activity to release stress, reading a book, watching television in the evening, or meditation. You can read more on the 5 secrets to achieving work-life balance on the Forbes blog.
Consider adopting some of these tips for reducing stress to ensure you make the most of the festive season. We wish you all of the season’s greetings.