Tuesday, February 02, 2016

3 Simple Tips to Reduce Stress


Do you have a lot on your plate? Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed with balancing your work and personal life? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many lawyers have a tendency to work long hours, sleep less than other professionals their age, and constantly jump from task to task without taking a break.

It’s no surprise that working like this day-in and day-out can get overwhelming and tiring, causing productivity to come to a grinding halt over time. We’ve all heard the tired saying, “work smarter, not harder,” but it’s tired because it’s true. It’s important to take time to yourself, give yourself a chance to breathe, and relieve some of your everyday stress through efficient time management strategies.

If you’ve been feeling like you’re on the brink of a breakdown, check out these 3 helpful tips for managing stress and accomplishing more each day:

Plan out your work day and tasks the evening before.

For most of us, the morning hours are some of the most productive hours of the day, so you should make an effort to use this time wisely. (And if they’re not your most productive, you should make an effort to find out which hours are your best working hours.)

After you’ve finished work for the day, write down a checklist of the most important tasks that need to be finished for the next day. This checklist will help you start off your day on the right foot: you’ll be more focused on what needs to get done, rather than dilly-dallying on social media, or wasting time scrolling through unimportant emails in the morning. If it’s helpful, you might even try coming up with a system to prioritize tasks from quickest to most time consuming in order to check off small tasks first, getting your day moving quickly.

Crossing off the easy items first on your list can boost morale and set a motivated tone for the rest of your day; however, don’t be tempted to use your most productive hours on menial tasks… The longer you put off your biggest, most intensive to-do items for the day, the less likely they are to get done as you begin to experience decision fatigue (and your coffee wears off) as the day goes on.

Pro Tip: In MerusCase, there’s a built in “Tasks” feature, which allows you to make a list of everything that needs to be done, and is organized by importance/urgency and associated with corresponding cases. In my opinion, the satisfaction of checking off those tasks is enough to make you want to get your work done!

Do not multitask. Just don’t.

Research has shown time and time again that multitasking significantly reduces productivity. All multitasking does is lead to a seriously painful positive feedback loop in which being less productive means getting less work done and getting less work done means added stress, which none of us want.

Instead, stay focused with what you’re working on and refrain from distractions such as checking social media, your email, your phone, or any other notifications that might pop up. In fact, it’s always best to just go ahead and turn off all of these notifications when you’re really trying to get work done. If this is difficult for you, you should give time blocking a try.

We’ve talked about it at length in a previous blog post, but this theory of time management allots specific blocks of time for each project you’re working on and allows you to build in a couple of minutes for “distraction time” in between tasks. (If you’re interested in learning more about how time blocking my help you focus, check out the “pomodoro technique” for an interesting way to schedule your tasks.)

Take lots (and lots) of breaks.

One major key to staying zen is to give your brain a break! Without breaks, it becomes difficult to keep up creativity, stay focused, and ultimately tasks will take longer to complete. That said, don’t jump from one task straight into the next one. Instead, every couple of hours, make an effort to stand-up and walk around for a few minutes, work out half-way through your day, or try doing some guided meditation (it’s not for everyone, but there is no harm in giving it a shot!).

Ultimately, however you decide to “break,” it’s essential focus on giving your brain and body some buffer time to recharge so that you can achieve maximum productivity.

Have any other stress-relief, time management, or productivity tips? We’re all ears!

Posted by Marissa Vessels on Tuesday February 02, 2016 2 Comments

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