Being a lawyer or working in a law firm is never easy, but it is especially difficult now. With the threat of the coronavirus widening and most everyone working from home, anxiety levels are at a peak. I feel your pain because my anxiety has also soared. Between trying to keep my distance and washing my hands, I found myself initially watching the coronavirus coverage all day. This was not at all helpful. Finally, last week, I turned it off. I realized that if I followed the CDC rules and did what I could to stay healthy, there was little more I could do. So, I decided to give myself permission to breathe, slow down, go for a long walk alone and just think. I found myself feeling grateful and more mindful of the many good things in my life and work. No, I was not as productive, but I was refreshed, energized and at peace.
As a coach, I have had several people ask me if it is okay to have unproductive days. My answer is almost always “yes” unless they happen too often. While it may seem counter-intuitive for lawyers to think this way, sometimes our brains just need a break. Those who refuse to give the brain a break and work through the anxiety and stress without stopping find themselves overwhelmed, unfocused and, you guessed it, unproductive.
Understanding that each person is impacted differently by today’s circumstances, I’d like to suggest that you give yourselves windows of time when you choose to be unproductive. There will be plenty of time for work when this virus passes, and I suspect there will be plenty of work to be had. So if you can permit yourself to slow down, breath, take in a sunset, call or email a long-lost friend (thank you, Chloe Reid, for emailing me!), meditate, pray, read a trashy novel, build a beehive, listen to music or just have a glass of wine in silence without your phone. I promise you the short windows of unproductivity will be worth it.