Autumn Leaves

Some unoriginal thinking…

I know a lot of people share my view that September is the start of a new year and a time for fresh starts.

It’s not just children that crave new stationery or start new classes at this time of year.

There is definitely something special about this neat little package of 4 months leading up to Christmas (and my birthday).

You can make a fresh start, get a lot done and, hopefully this year, get out and socialise in what is, undoubtedly, party season.

The harsh truth

That new term feeling also makes September my favourite time to make resolutions and plans.

I find it easier to have a low-key approach to change and, in September, you can do it without fanfare and undistracted by the voices of experts telling you how often resolutions are abandoned within days.

But – there’s always a but – that point about this being a false start and resolutions being short-lived needs some thought.

Making a real change

Speaking from experience, for lawyers and other professionals there is a tendency to keep saying, “it will be different when…”

  • When this case is finished;
  • When the kids get to secondary school;
  • When I take silk;
  • When I deal with this backlog….

In particular, I can remember working long days in the run up to a holiday, packing in a tailspin and being on my work email in the taxi on the way to the airport.  That meant taking several days of the holiday to reach anything approaching an even keel.

And every time, I swore it would be different next time.  It never was.

The C word

If your run-in to the summer break wasn’t ideal, and the thought of opening your in-box when you return to work fills you with dread then why not make some changes this September that will make the next break different.

The practical sacrifices:

If nothing changes then nothing changes.  You can’t achieve a better work-life balance by keeping the same attitude to work.

Here are a few changes you could incorporate.  You might not be able to do all of them, in particular all of them at once. but small changes can make a big difference.

  • Say No, or at least pause to think before saying yes. Some of us are programmed to please but you don’t have to do everything.  I will go further you can’t do everything.  So exercise some control over what you do.  This is one that definitely gets easier with practice.
  • Block time out in your diary. Turn on the out of office and get stuff done.  You don’t have to be available all the time.  (And for holidays do think about covering both the day before your holiday and the day after it in your out of office dates).
  • Increase your breaks to improve productivity. When you’re exhausted you are less effective.  Taking proper, regular breaks both during the day and longer breaks during the week could mean you actually get more work done and feel healthier.  Also, we all know that tasks expand to fill the time available to them so limiting that time can make sure you don’t waste time.  Done is better than perfect (almost always).

You can find some more pointers on improving your work-life and your work-life balance here.

And find events that might give you some extra motivation here.

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