Like any small business owner, solo and small firm attorneys see the end of the year as fiscal crunch time. They’re trying to close out the year strong and meet those last few goals. However, that’s also the time of year where holidays fall. Those events come with a separate set of challenges. Combined, the two competing situations can have lawyers rushing around trying to meet every commitment and stressed out as a result.
But, it’s possible to slow down and enjoy the holiday if you have the right strategy. Putting the right ones in place can work for most attorneys.
1. Accept the holiday downswing
While many law firms experience little to no deceleration in work, just as many do as clients postpone dealing with legal matters until January. Moreover, employees in organizations from courts and government agencies to corporations and small businesses that support your practice refocus on the holidays. They’re less available, and that slows down your work which often leads to additional holiday stress.
Georgia attorney, Dar’shun Kendrick of Kendrick Law Practice near Atlanta that helps businesses raise capital legally, agrees. She says, “There’s a decline in revenue because people forget about their business during the holidays.”
But, Kendrick accepts it as a seasonal reality and practices self-care during the holidays, so she doesn’t get stressed.
2. Plan time away from the office
Naturally, you don’t want to shut down your office, but you should put time away from your office on your calendar like Kendrick does. By planning, she can enjoy time outside her office but not forget to complete work-related activities.
You also should consider stopping work after regular business hours as well as travel during the holidays like Kendrick. She was traveling back from Washington, DC after visiting a new museum the day after Thanksgiving rather than in her office working or shopping. If you’re taking some time to plan for next year, do it during slow periods in your office and then leave at a reasonable hour.
“Also, plan to spend time with family or friends you don’t see often,” says work-life balance expert, Dr. Gabrielle Pelicci who is known as “Dr. Gabby.”
“The point is to leave your office and do other things that promote well-being and reduce stress,” she continues.
3. Incorporate fun and giving into work
Numerous networking events are going on during this time of year. Go to them to have a nice time with people you like or people you want to meet. Don’t focus on business when you’re there. Make this part of your “netweaving” strategy.
That means you’re meeting others for the sake of connecting them with people who need them, not to generate revenue. Kendrick, who is also a Georgia state legislator and nonprofit executive director, is a master at this and goes to such events for that purpose.
“It can be fun to engage in giving through volunteer work, too,” says Dr. Gabby. Consider activities like delivering meals or groceries to those who can’t get out, helping out during a charitable event at your synagogue or church, or doing a fundraiser with friends or colleagues for an excellent cause.
Similarly, give office parties and have fun events for others at your office. Consider hosting a charitable event for children, the elderly or another group in need during the holidays. Says Dr. Gabby, “Doing things for others is an effective way to destress during the holidays.”
This choice not only benefits them but benefits you. Kendrick, who is well-known in her community for her charitable nature, says, “I do many of these things, and they help me focus on others’ needs rather than just my own.”
4. Replace typical stress reducers with healthier ones
Many people drink alcohol, binge eat or shop to reduce stress, but those are not the best ways to achieve that objective and often lead to more stress later. “Instead, says Dr. Gabby, “do things with others that are soothing like sitting with children and coloring or painting your nails together.” That means no movies or technology rather than activities that require you to engage with others.
If you can’t spend time with family, get together with close friends who are not related to work and do similar activities. Dr. Gabby suggests planning social activities around events not involving food or alcohol. Or doing group meditation or prayer in your community to encourage mindfulness or spirituality. Also, exercise with others, not alone, and talk to them about your challenges, when possible and necessary.
5. Redirect your work energy in a different direction
Rather than spending time in your office stressing about too much work or brooding about too little, consider completing an office project there you’ve been putting off. “Decluttering or reorganizing your office to make your workspace feel better is one task you could complete during the holidays,” says Dr. Gabby.
It could put you in a better frame of mind for next year. You also could do a similar project at home on one of those nights you’ve taken off earlier than usual.
You also could plan activities for 2017 that enhance not only your business but your health and well-being. “Put them on your calendar for next year and commit doing them,” suggests Dr. Gabby.
6. Try something new
If you’ve always wanted to do something you haven’t before, use this time away from work to try that new activity. “Get out of your comfort zone,” Dr. Gabby affirms. “Take a comedy improve classes, go on a retreat or go on a white water rafting trip,” she continues.
If slowing down and enjoying the holidays is that “new thing,” now that you know how to, start there.