A few days ago I was on a call with one of my favourite ladies S. S has found her job, working as a teacher, becoming overloaded with more and more admin, responsibilities and stress. The time she spends teaching seems to pale in comparison to the ‘extras’ that come with the job.
Sounds familiar, right?
So we were talking about time management and where her energy went. I asked her to keep a very simple diary for a week, noting down hour by hour what she had done. More on why later.
When I spoke to her the following week I asked her how she had gotten on and she told me about the diary she had kept for her days off and that there had been no point keeping the diary during the week as she knew what she was doing - teaching all day.
I asked what her hours of work were and she told me.
Then I asked how long her commute was, and she told me.
Finally, I asked what time she got up in the morning and went to bed, and she told me.
(I think you can guess where I am going with this one)
S had discounted each of her work days because she was ‘at work’, forgetting that for 2-3 hours before work and anywhere from 2 to 5 hours after it, she wasn’t at work. When I pointed this out to her, she went very quiet.
I've worked some crazy hours in my time as a lawyer. It's not a 9-5 job when you're working in a vocation and building a career. But even when I was clocking up 70+ hour weeks every week, there were hours in my day that I could have put to use, gently or otherwise.
Lawyers are used to recording their time as effectively and thoroughly as possible to ensure that every last moment worked on a file is billed. I have spent the last decade recording my time spent on work tasks in 6 minute units, all day every day, using software and timesheets. Yet even I will find myself mentally checking off a day because ‘it’s a work day’ or a whole evening because I have to do something for an hour.
It is so easy to lose perspective on time and particularly the value of that time around work.
My challenge to you this week is to spend one week implementing a simple tool lawyers use to keep their billing high, by recording your time spent. I challenge you to keep the same diary as I asked S to keep. I’ve even gotten you a handy little download to print and scribble on.
For one week, keep this diary. It will take you two minutes or less at the end of each day to cast your mind back over the day and make a note of what you were doing for each hour.
Next week we will look through your time diary together to see the patterns that have emerged and to start making some tiny changes that will have a huge impact on your energy, enthusiasm and exhaustion.
I would encourage you to head over to the Facebook group for more support during this week. Remember – time isn’t straightforward. Even Doctor Who struggles with it.
(Yes I included a video of David Tennant for my own sheer indulgence. Don’t give me that look!).
Full disclosure, this is one of the first steps I take in my 1:1 mentoring course so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for next week’s blog where we’ll take these time diaries and start making big changes (without big effort!).
I was a chronically exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed lawyer when burnout hit full force. Get the free guide to the first steps to take to deal with burnout and start a recovery - without throwing in the towel at work! http://tinyurl.com/burnoutfirstaid
Until next time, take care of yourself