Since legal work and client emails know no bounds, lawyers have to approach their weekends differently to make sure they get the most out of them.
Most articles geared towards professionals looking to optimize their weekend can be frustrating for lawyers. Sure, we’d love to spend our Saturday unwinding, de-stressing, or catching up with friends and family. But unfortunately, for many lawyers, most weekends are spent at, or focused on, work. Sometimes the demands of an 80-hour workweek spill over to conflict with your Saturday (and possibly Sunday) plans.
But just because you can’t devote 48 hours to exactly what you want, that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of whatever downtime you do have on your weekend. Whether it’s a quick recharge or some prep towards making your week easier, even lawyers can make their weekends work for them…and enjoy happier, healthier, and smarter weeks as result.
#1 Review and Plan
Whether you’re in the office or on the couch, the weekend is often the best time to catch your proverbial breath. Take a few minutes to review the week that was.
Then take a look at your upcoming week: What do you need to do in the next five days? When and how will you do them?
Reviewing your previous week will give you a firmer grasp on your accomplishments (and the areas you need to brush up) and planning for the next gives you an opportunity to optimize your workweek. The more you review and plan, the better sense you’ll have of your time, and that means the less you’ll waste where you need it most.
#2 Shop and Prep
Heading into the office? First, stop at your grocery store. Saturday morning is a famously easy time to shop (since everyone else is still sleepy), and stocking up on the weekend is just one less time-consuming task for your week.
But before you fill up your cart, take a few minutes also to consider your meals for the week. Do you have a dinner date with a client? Are you planning a supper that can double as next-day lunch? Although real meal-prepping may take too much time this weekend, giving yourself a sense of your week’s diet can help you maintain a healthy meal-plan. By knowing where you’re planning or likely to splurge, you can choose (and shop for) healthier meals and snacks accordingly to avoid packing on the pounds…and the sluggish feeling of a poor diet.
#3 Disconnect and De-stress
We know you can’t take a break from your emails, but you can put those notifications on pause for at least a few minutes. Scheduling some time to disconnect—even just 20 minutes—is the lawyer equivalent of a power nap for your senses. A quick tech break will give you a dose of peace, quiet, and relaxation—and give you a chance to take a walk, talk to your partner, or simply reflect away from your phone’s demands.
Another way to de-stress in a hurry? Try a mind-dump and take 10 minutes to write down your stresses, to-dos, concerns, or deadlines. Getting them off your mind—and onto paper—will help reduce stress levels and make it easier to track your priority (and not so priority) tasks. And getting your worries and stresses on paper means your mind is freer to focus on other things— like your clients, caseload, and projects.
#4 Flex and Schmooze
You might not be able to turn your mind off entirely every Sunday, but that doesn’t mean your mind has to suffer the consequences. Studies show that practicing skills than those you use during the week—such as playing an instrument instead of typing away at your computer—gives your brain a much-needed boost.
At the same, time, try and schedule in some time to socialize outside of work. (Feel free to make that a coffee date with a co-worker, as long as work topics are of the table!) Socializing, like flexing your creative skills, increases your mental flexibility, improves your mood, and gives gives your mind a break from the office. So grab an instrument, paintbrush ball or good book and then grab a friend to chat with—and you’ll start Monday off refreshed and ready to go, and still have something to look forward to no matter what your next weekend is looking like.