Stressed Lawyers Don’t Know the Hooky Strategy

This article was contributed by Emily LaRusch, Founder of Back Office Betties, a boutique receptionist and intake company exclusively serving small law firms. She has an insatiable thirst for learning and is the happiest coaching and collaborating within the entrepreneurial community. She has been featured in Entrepreneur, Associated Press, BBC News and serves as an educator for Inmates to Entrepreneurs. 

We can all agree that work is stressful.

Between juggling admin tasks, time with clients, and everything else under the sun, attorneys are busy from the start of the day to closing time. 

What happens when you hit a rut?

Hitting a rut—whether that means stagnated growth or starting to feel the effects of burnout—means bad news.  

Playing Hooky as a Strategy for Wellness

It’s time to stop viewing breaks as a luxury and start viewing them as a necessity. This is because taking breaks improves your performance at work. 

Here’s how playing hooky from work is beneficial for your development:

  • Increases energy and productivity
  • Helps combat negative emotions  
  • Boosts creativity
  • Restores motivation
  • Reduces stress  

The bottom line: attorneys who take clarity breaks stay sharp and can accomplish more with less effort.

Stop Saying “I Don’t Have the Time”

If you feel like there simply isn’t enough time to take a break and get all of your work done, you are not alone. If you recognize the need for a break, try starting small. Barnet Bain writes in The Book of Doing and Being that as little as 5-10 minutes of a brain dump can promote creativity and innovation. 

Avoid This Mistake   

A newfound hour in your day should not be packed full of errands or checking off your personal to-do list. In order to achieve the full benefits of a clarity break, this time must be spent on activities that allow your brain to get into default-mode “DM”. 

A 2012 study by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang found that when the brain is not focused on the outside world, DM neural processing becomes engaged. What does this mean for you? More DM brain state time contributes to a healthy brain and plays a role in cognitive ability and divergent thinking. 

Five Must Try Activities 

  1. Spend time in nature. Try going for a swim, hike or a leisurely stroll. Being in nature boosts mood, improves attention and lowers stress.  
  2. Read and reflect on a topic related to business, personal growth, happiness or inspiration. Allow a few minutes of quiet contemplation and then jot down your thoughts, ideas and key take aways. 
  3. Feeling unhappy? Journaling is a powerful tool to provide clarity around the root cause of your feelings. Brene’s Browns’ book Atlas of the Heart contains a list of the 87 emotions and experiences her research team identified that define the human experience. Identify the emotion you’re feeling and write down the words “Why am I feeling ___?” Write an answer and then ask yourself why three times. Asking why three times is a powerful method to go deep and get to the root of an issue.  
  4. Take a spa day. Spa days are a great way to relax your mind and body. Close your eyes and let the day dreaming begin with a massage, facial or both! 
  5. Try restorative yoga. This gentle practice promotes relaxation of the mind and body and has more opportunity for a meditative mental state than more fast paced yoga classes. 

A Rose by Any Other Name  

Block time on the calendar and call it playing hooky, clarity time, scheduled breaks or any other name that inspires you as long as you make this practice a part of your daily life. It sounds counterintuitive, but when you’re feeling too busy to get everything done, it’s time to take a break!   

One final word of advice: remember to turn your ringer and notifications off during your clarity breaks.

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