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‘Burn bright, don’t burn out’

At the end of each year, each Bodie associate meets with the Bodie partners for a review. During that time, we are encouraged to express any criticisms and suggestions and to ask any questions that we might have.

This year, I told the partners that I had a difficult time managing my time and staying on task when I’m physically in the office. The reason for this is that I receive incessant emails, phone calls and unexpected visitors in my office. It tends to take me hours to get through one task because of the interruptions.

The partners offered me some suggestions, such as closing my door, putting my phone on Do Not Disturb and telling my assistant when I’m not available for office visits from colleagues. Those suggestions helped somewhat but I still found myself frustrated and often off-task in the office.

When I work at my home office, I am incredibly efficient. It’s quiet and I can just roll through my work, one task at a time. But working from home isn’t really an option. What to do? What to do?

A few weeks later, one of the partners, Todd Willson, dropped a newsletter on my desk from Legal Mutual, titled “Burn Bright But Don’t Burn Out.” Since then, I’ve kept that newsletter on the right side of my desk, always visible to me.

I’ve never considered myself inefficient or a procrastinator. Yet after reading this article, I realized that the way I handle interruptions is inefficient. I also realized that procrastination doesn’t just mean sitting at my desk staring out the window. It can also mean putting off things I don’t want to do. All of this inefficiency and procrastination was leading to stress.

So, I set out to improve my situation. I made a list of all of the things I needed to do that week and divided them into the five days. I gave myself two or three tasks each day. I called them my “must do’s.” I start with the task I want to do the least and push myself through it.

I don’t always get through all of my must do’s each week but I’m finding myself much more organized and on-task than before. And, even more importantly, I’m feeling less stressed and less out-of-control.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by a long to-do list or lost in a sea of interruptions, do yourself a favor and check out this article. It not only validated the struggles with which I was beyond frustrated but also gave me effective tips to overcome them.

If you haven’t read it, read it. If you’re a young lawyer, READ IT.