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Work/Life Balance

Fun Is Not a Four Letter Word: 10 Ways to Have Fun Practicing Law

By Melanie Jester

Have you stopped lately to consider whether you are injecting some fun into your every day work week? Curiosity and creativity are a lawyer's most essential tools. Here are a few suggestions (ranging from the serious to the absurd) to jump-start your work week:

  1. Send a monk-e-mail. Dress your chimp for laughter success, add a text message and select a voice. Your chimp will speak your e-mail to a friend (or opposing counsel)! This may be just the weapon to diffuse an embroiled dispute. Go to CareerBuilder.com and find the Monk-e-Mail service for information and instructions. Anything you can say, a monkey can say better!
  2. Foster a client-relationship. The practice of law is largely the practice of building relationships. Learn a hobby or personal interest of a client. Send a small gift, relevant book, article, or even a cartoon in recognition of your client's interest.
  3. Pick a pick-me-up theme song. Upbeat music is a sure-fire way to infuse some energy. Need ideas? Pole your co-workers for a list of their favorites or check out the Real Simple iMix on iTunes, a playlist of "power songs" compiled by the staff at Real Simple magazine.
  4. Give yourself gold stars. Tackle a project you've been procrastinating over and earn a gold star. Chart your progress and give yourself one month to earn ten stars. At the end of the month reward yourself with a personal splurge - a special bottle of wine, a new outfit, tickets to a sporting event, a new putter.
  5. Unwind with a “deep thought.” Remember the soothing voice and picturesque nature scenes that accompanied Saturday Night Live’s Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy? When work is too serious, unwind with one of your favorite Handy thoughts to put things in the right perspective. A collection can be found at www.deepthoughtsbyjackhandy.com. Even better, share a Deep Thought with a friend. A shared guttural laugh is the best experience of all!
  6. Stretch your brain. Schedule one uninterrupted hour at least once a month to really study recent developments in your practice area. Write a brief summary of what you learned and e-mail it to your practice group. Ask for comment and feedback to make the effort truly worthwhile.
  7. Think outside the box. If you could let go of current "rules of operation" what might you do differently? Pick one area of your practice you would like to improve upon (negotiation techniques, marketing practices, billing methods, practice management) and brainstorm about novel approaches. Consult colleagues for suggestions or search for an Internet-based discussion. For more insight about practicing how to think outside the box, read The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.
  8. Conduct a self-evaluation. Where are you professionally? Set goals on how to improve neglected or underdeveloped skills. Keep the goals small and simple. Take some action each day toward reaching your goals. You might start by simply creating a list of professional development resources. Don't stress out about these goals! This is supposed to RELAX you!
  9. Spread enthusiasm. Write a note of congratulations, praise or encouragement to a co-worker.
  10. Liven up your language. The lawyer's medium is words. If you’ve become mired in the monotony of legalese, give a boost to your vocabulary. Subscribe to Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day e-mail service at www.m-w.com or try The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale. The book contains over one million synonyms and is a must have for any afficionado of words.

Don't stop with these suggestions. Come up with your own top 10 list. Deliver it to your office colleagues Letterman style. Need help? Look for suggestions in these books: 301 Ways to Have Fun at Work by Dave Hemsath and Leslie Yerkes; Work Like Your Dog by Luke Barber and Matt Weinstein.