Living your most productive life with one daily practice
You’re grinding through a serious document, your mind churning out words a mile a minute, a frigid bottle of Coke at the ready, when one of those irritating information lozenges slides into your laptop window on the upper right. “Work-Life Balance Important to Well-Being” comes at you in bold capitals. There’s a tiny image of a serene woman, surrounded by house plants, sitting at a perfectly clean desk. Smiling. You slap that tab closed, slam your Coke, and yell out, “I’m balanced when I’m moving, loser!” To the dark. At 2am.
And it is an aggravating irony that an industry like law that values insane productivity also admonishes lawyers to get a life. If you’d wanted a life you would’ve taken some course in Theater, or Landscaping, like some of your buddies. The thing is, all of them, every single one, are getting the same desktop lozenge as you — and each and every one of them is ignoring it exactly as hard.
It’s Not a Meme: Balancing Your Work and Life Does Matter
The grind is killing people every day. Not just by dropping dead in the break room. Sure, that happens; but there are other deaths less dramatic. The kind that sneaks up on you. The kind where you’re in your mid-50s and realize you don’t have many friends, haven’t talked to your family in six months, and can’t remember the last book you read that didn’t have “law” in the title.
Balancing your work and your life isn’t about numbers. It’s about worth. It’s about space. It’s about mindfulness. Sure, it’s about spending quality time with your kids or your significant other, too. But it’s more about spending quality time with yourself.
It’s not about scheduling and to-do listing and GTDing yourself into some kind of out-of-office bliss fest. It’s about developing the inner you as passionately as you develop the professional you.
Here’s a simple analogy about why work-life balance is crucial.
The more you neglect to build an inner life in favor of grinding through case files, the more that inner life fades and the closer you come to being all shell. Without a vibrant, rich interior to support it, that shell is fragile. To build that rich interior, you have to spend time with yourself.
You could take up running, getting your body out of the office and onto a trail to get your head out of the game. But there’s a chance you’ll spend that time going over your work, which may help you burn calories as you run faster and faster to get away from [endless screaming]. You could turn to yoga. You could read. You could learn to cook a nice meal off YouTube.
None of those, however, really address the fundamental practice of building an inner life: talking to yourself.
Keeping a Journal Helps You Tune in to Your Own Radio
Writing your thoughts down on paper gets them out of your head where you can see them. At first, your journal is going to be a mess. But eventually, it will turn into a daily practice you can’t wait for.
Over time, you may reignite a sense of self you’d lost to your to-do list. And you may discover a few things about yourself you’d forgotten. You might even start getting better at your job.
But jumping into journaling isn’t easy for everyone. You might want guidance. Here’s a list of 3 resources are good at taking you along one of the important paths to a vibrant personal and professional zen: the path of productivity, the path of self-discovery, and the path of deep devotion:
This article was adapted from Attorney at Work.