Smooth Sailing: 4 Steps to Set Yourself Up for a Great Vacation

May 30, 2024

Time flies when you are too busy to have fun. You may have noticed the days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising, and if you have kids, it is probably becoming a lot harder to get them to do their schoolwork. That’s right, summer is finally upon us. June signifies the beginning of vacation time for school-aged children and hard-working adults!

As attorneys and legal professionals, taking it easy is not usually on the radar. They are famous for being intense. A Clio article on attorneys and stress reads, According to the 2018 Legal Trends Report, 75% of lawyers regularly work outside of regular business hours. Additionally, the report tells us that the average full-time lawyer works 49.6 hours each week and logs an extra 140 hours of unplanned work. This equates to about 3.5 weeks of extra, unplanned work a year.  That’s a lot of work and a lot of weight to have on your shoulders 365 days of the year. 

And it is no secret that legal professionals are not the best at taking vacations They still check their emails, take calls, and even end up working through the entire trip.

Vacations are proven to relieve stress and improve well-being. Taking a vacation can save your sanity, preserve your mental health, and improve your work productivity and focus. But how to do this without falling behind Here are 4 steps to take to help you unplug, recharge and truly take a real vacation. 

  1. Before you go, settle any emergent issues. If it can be dealt with before checking out of the office for the week, deal with it. Ask yourself, “How would I deal with this if I knew I was going into a coma for a week. You can’t always predict what will come up and what will need urgent attention, but there is generally a way to manage and tie up current issues in a manner that will let you step back for a few days. 
  2. Make sure your paralegals, legal assistants, or colleagues have your back. Tell them everything they may need to know while you are out of the office. If it helps, write them a detailed out-of-office plan that outlines due dates, approaching deadlines, and anything you want completed by the time you return. This prevents any unnecessary buildup of work (and a pile of files on your desk) when you get back.
  3. Silence your notifications and plan a (short) daily cleanup. This is the scary one, right? Do not worry; it does not have to be for the entire trip. Set times during your day when you allow yourself to take a time-limited break from the fun to check and respond to emails, make necessary phone calls, and catch up on the gossip going on in one of your Teams group chats. Remember not to go down rabbit holes or begin to set new tasks in motion that can wait. Limit this time to 30 minutes or one hour unless there is a true emergency that will fundamentally hurt a client or case if it is not responded to before vacation is over. This allows you to handle any emergencies, reduce anxiety about missing something important, and set yourself up for a smoother re-entry to the office.
  4. Remember that you deserve this time away. Dolly Parton said it best: “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” You work hard all year round. Everyone deserves rest, relaxation, and time spent with themselves or their loved ones and you are no exception. 

Your career is important, but your mental health and your life are far more valuable. So, get jet set and go. Lay back and enjoy the sun, the sand, or even just your own home (because staycations can be just as fun)! Think of your summer vacation out-of-office as planning to allow yourself to take necessary breaks and days out of the office throughout the year.

Until then, Bon Voyage!