Your law business benefits from you having real work-life balance

Take a look at the calendar. As of publication time, a major holiday will arrive in less than 24 hours. Will you, or did you, take time off to celebrate? If not, you should know that your law business actually benefits from you having down time.

You can close your shop for a few days, or even longer, without losing business. When you return, you might even have a fresh perspective on some lingering challenges.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of taking vacations and days off from your law business:

Think of time off as recharge time

One CEO told Forbes:

“The way I convince myself to take a break, and how I’d advise others to do the same, is reminding yourself that rest is a performance enhancement, not an inhibitor.”

He likened overwork to running back-to-back marathons. Not only would your body break down, but you wouldn’t post your best results. Continually running, or continually working, won’t necessarily bring you closer to your goal.

A Fast Company article spoke about entrepreneurs’ tendency to check in on work even while on vacation, but studies have shown that habit to have negative effects on your brain. First, it could impact your ability to even remember that vacation you worked so hard to enjoy. Second, as psychology professor Art Markman told Fast Company:

“When you’re on vacation, there are desirable things to pursue. You get emotions like joy, happiness, and satisfaction that you don’t get in the workday. If you don’t get away from work, you’re just maintaining your cycle of stress.”

While some stress comes with the territory of running a law firm, you deserve to experience a full range of human emotions and experiences.

Think about it: When you launched your solo firm, better work-life balance probably ranked high on your list of reasons for leaving a more traditional firm environment. So, why deny yourself the benefits of running an independent firm? You need time to recharge.

Your brain on stress

Oh, sure, we lawyers do our best work under stress, right? We love deadlines and thrive on conflict. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

However, a growing body of research shows how stress can limit a person’s creativity, ability to innovate and problem solve. An article from verywellmind highlights a number of recent university studies that show how chronic stress:

  • Increases your risk of developing mental illness
  • Changes the brain’s structure to produce more white matter and less gray matter (gray matter is responsible for problem-solving and decision-making)
  • Kills brain cells; specifically, cortisol can affect new neurons in the hippocampus, the region of your brain that controls memory, emotion and learning.
  • Shrinks the brain and impacts memory

While researchers note that some types of short-term stress can actually enhance performance and memory in specific cases, chronic stress leaves your brain less able to manage traumatic events and other major stress-inducing moments.

Boost productivity and efficiency

A writer for LifeHack points to additional research that shows vacations and productivity go hand-in-hand:

“Researchers who study employee efficiency and productivity have found that the time away from work correlates with the productivity of the employee. In other words, the more time an employee spends away from work, up to a certain point, the better he or she is able to perform their work — even though they have less hours to spend at it.”

As the business owner, your productivity also improves if you allow yourself time off. In addition, planning for your annual vacations forces you to think more seriously about how to streamline processes in your firm. Technology, additional staff and collaboration with other lawyers can help you create a law firm that runs smoothly, even in your absence.

So, take tomorrow off. If you missed Independence Day, then make a deal with yourself to unplug during the next holiday. Then book your next vacation. Your brain and your business will thank you.

To learn more about building an independent law practice in Denver, contact us. Our collaborative work spaces include lawyer executive suites, lawyer coworking space and more.