Ethics Counsel on

Work/Life Balance

Tips for a Stress-Free Workplace

By Travis Pickens

Ditch the “time-traps.”
Lose the unnecessary office chats and interruptions. Institute “quiet hours” for a couple of hours a day where you do not take phone calls and close the door to the “rovers” in your office. Your day will go better, and you won’t be confused with Howard Hughes.

Get a laptop.
Getting cheaper by the month, and it makes work possible from anywhere. Working from home for a couple of hours before you hit the office and a wad of telephone messages will avoid jangled nerves and get you started right.

Drop the junk.
Bad cases, one-shot deals and too much work for “friends” add to your stress. No work is better than bad work. Pro bono work for needy people is one thing; work for “friends” is another. Set limits.

Doing the urgent, important stuff first calms your inner volcano. Interruptions and the fun stuff that can wait (like reading this) should be savored at the end of the day or at lunch, not 9:30 a.m. Business before pleasure is still the rule, unless you work for a firm that is all business which presents another problem.

Find your place.
Working at the wrong place with the wrong people causes more stress than anything else. Find your happy place in the legal field, or out of it if necessary. Are you accepted? Are you valued? Are you having some fun? If not, prepare to leave the building, but do so responsibly, and without going off on the people that you detest. Chances are, they already know how you feel.

Find your work.
Are you a leopard in the petting zoo? Know your stripes and what part of the jungle you belong to. You won’t fool anyone for long and it’s a hard act to keep up. Besides, the jungle needs all the animals. A friend of mine moved from divorce work to estate planning. He has smiled ever since. Another friend went from title work to litigation. She’s a judge now.

Find inner peace.
I’ll use “spirituality” since this is a Web site, but you get the message. I’m not talking about Wicca. Finding meaning beyond yourself and your work is the best way to keep your perspective. After the first 10-year reunion, no one cares what you do for a living.