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In It Together: Importance of Taking Time Off at Home

  • How our brains respond to chronic stress
  • Benefits of taking time off, especially during a pandemic
  • How to have a great day off
  • A preview of our upcoming webinar on managing stress

Recorded: April 10, 2020
Interview: Steve Riley, Atticus

Steve Riley is with Atticus, one of the nation’s leaders in coaching attorneys. Atticus has been around for about 30 years, helping successful attorneys take their practices in new directions and reach higher levels of performance.

Attorneys are hired by clients to solve a problem that is complicated – they are looking for our insight, judgement and experience to help solve the problem. Many attorneys are burnt out and haven’t taken a day off in years. From a strategy perspective, taking time off and giving yourself time to recharge helps to improve our judgment. Working harder constantly provides a diminishing return but many attorneys are programmed to think that this is the way to be better. So, when you hit a growth wall or ceiling, the best thing to do is to take that time off so that our judgement is improved which speaks to the reason we are hired in the first place. Give your brain a rest, find things that provide fun, joy, relaxation, rejuvenation, passion, excitement, love, gratitude, appreciation… the emotions that give us compelling reasons to change.

How to Take Time Off at Home

The current situation is a horrible trifecta: attorneys have a 10-15 year chronic work habit, most people take time off away from home, and there is a stressful pandemic. The natural mindset is to work more since we aren’t able to go anywhere to relax and get away. Being at home with partners and families can compound the stress, escaping into work can become an easy coping mechanism. Some of my advice includes: 

  • Negotiate with spouse/partner for days off
  • Define on paper what a great day off would include
  • Define on paper what a terrible day off would include
  • Make a plan to come out of this crisis refreshed rather than exhausted and chronically stressed
  • Protect your time off

A day off must include not checking email, not responding to phones, not doing any client work – give the brain a chance to recover and to think in a different way to support thinking in a different way to support greater creativity and greater focus and greater energy.

Email [email protected] for a worksheet to create a great day off. For me, one element of a great day off includes exercise by myself, a good day off includes exercise with my wife. Family dinner and games are also elements of a great day off at home. A terrible day off is any form of errand, fixing something, or cleaning something – those are not fun for me. For my wife, sometimes attacking those tasks makes a great day off. Knowing these things helps us to communicate and negotiate great days off without guilt. Guilt is a useless emotion. Elite athletes have off seasons for recovery time. We also need recovery time. 

Steve will be presenting this topic in a longer webinar on April 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET. Topics will include how to separate anxiety from fear and strategies for working from home that will translate into actions you can take back into your practice in the office. He’ll also provide evidence that taking time off makes us more productive and gives us a competitive edge.

10 Strategies to Reduce Anxiety During Stressful Times

Thursday, April 23, 12:00-1:00 p.m. ET

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