Planning is what keeps me sane during the three months prior to trial and throughout the duration of the trial. I print out a hard copy of a blank calendar in Outlook or Word and I write in my hard deadlines and count back to figure out how much time I need to get everything done. Doing this allows me to keep a great amount of craziness within my control. I am able to effectively avoid last minute nonsense 80 percent of the time.
I also make sure I keep myself on a tight schedule and get a diet and exercise plan in place to make sure I’m taking care of all my needs – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. There are a lot of people on your team who are counting on you and need you to perform your best. There is no getting sick. To me, it is no different from being an athlete.
A lot of people will tell you that if you don’t get up first thing in the morning and do it, it will never happen for you. Only you know whether or not it is realistic to get up at 5:30 a.m. and workout and then go work a full day. I never could do it. But I can carve out time to get away for a little walk at lunch or at least make sure I’m leaving work by 6:30 or 7:00 at least twice a week to squeeze some sessions in. Weekends are easy enough to stay the course. But I really have to commit to myself in writing in my personal planner to make this happen during the week.
Keep your work fridge stocked with non-fat Greek yogurts, string cheese, individual servings of hummus or Wholly Guacamole, and have some almonds, Triscuits, or whole wheat tortillas in the cabinets. I also keep a few emergency frozen Kashi’s in the freezer.
Have something to look forward to when you get home that doesn’t involve work. You are probably over-taxed right now, so sink into a beach read, magazine, or catch up on your guilty pleasure shows. You don’t have to read one of the classics right now if you aren’t up to it. Get out and visit an art museum or go see a movie on the weekend.
It is all too easy to get caught up in work and neglect your friends and family. Don’t do this, because it will make you feel even worse when the stress really starts getting to you. You’ll get into the “I’m the only one in the world dealing with this” downward spiral. You aren’t. It just feels that way because lawyers are making you crazy right now. You need to pull out that planner and carve out a date at least once a week. Go see your mother. Go meet a friend for dinner. Do something to remind yourself that you have people in your life who care about you. This is important!
If you go to church, keep going and don’t make the excuse that you are too busy or stressed out to go. If church isn’t your thing, get up on Sunday morning and do yoga or take a hike outside. Make coffee and relax. Take a hot bath and light candles. Whatever it is that you do, do it. Maybe even more so.
The legal field is full of Type “A” people who seem to be able to push themselves to the limit constantly. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious and being an overachiever. But there is something wrong if you are doing it at the expense of your own health. Only you know what you need. Remember, you aren’t the lawyer. It is okay if you see that something is going to take a little bit longer than you anticipated and you need to call for some help on a project. You don’t have to handle every little thing alone. If you feel yourself burning out, it is okay to speak up and take care of yourself.
I’m not saying it is okay to throw your hands up and walk out the door when there is still work to be done at 7:00 p.m., but I do know that if you don’t find a way to make yourself a priority and meet your basic needs, your body is going to fail you and crash. And then you aren’t going to be good to anyone. So don’t make the mistake of thinking you are too busy or slammed at work to get out and do these things. You aren’t. Your clients will thank you and your boss will thank you.
And if all else fails and you find yourself on a run-away train, do this: Get online and book yourself a trip for when it is over. That will cure what ails you.