Achieving a good work-life balance is harder than ever before, and the devices we carry are at least partially to blame. Among many other professionals, lawyers are particularly notorious for working long hours. As a talented attorney, Matthew Cambó has learned to prioritize his health and relationships while still being successful in a demanding field. Here are his reasons for why maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential and his top tips for how he unplugs from work after office hours.
Tip #1. Why Work-Life Balance is Important
When you let work take over your life, your physical health can suffer just as much as your mental health. Eating consistently healthy meals, finding the time to exercise regularly, and getting an appropriate amount of sleep each night can become less of a priority during your career, as you try to focus on performing at your highest level professionally, which can lead to obesity, heart disease, and other health problems. Mental health can depreciate with increased levels of stress, anxiety, or depression. Long working hours have also been linked to negative health-related behaviors, such as alcohol use and smoking.
Irritability due to excessive working hours can cause relationships to deteriorate. Maybe you’re missing important events in your loved ones’ lives, or perhaps your friends or family have commented about how you’re not really “there” when you’re together. Ensuring your time spent with loved ones is 100% focused on them is an example of practicing mindfulness. Scientific studies utilizing MRI scans have shown to directly stimulate areas of the brain responsible for stress, creativity, problem-solving, and memory.
Increased working hours also decreases overall cognitive abilities—which ironically leads to less productivity at work. Keeping your work hours to a manageable level will keep you from feeling burned out, which will help your career in the short- and long term.
Tip #2. How to Unplug from Work
Figure out where you’re at and where you need to be.
Get a sense of the big picture by calculating your working hours over a period of weeks and months. Do these numbers scare you? Figure out what a reasonable number of working hours is for you and commit to them. Be honest and realistic with yourself in your assessment. Organize your schedule and allocate a realistic amount of time to accomplishing each item in your schedule. Try your best to stick to your schedule but adjust and reallocate as needed. Set alarms and reminders that not only remind you when and what the next task is, but also remind you why you decided to set these parameters in the first place.
Tip #3. Commit to leaving work at the office.
This can be particularly difficult when you’re constantly being bombarded with “emergencies” on your computer and phone, especially when working from home. One solution is to have a separate phone for work, if possible so that you never receive work-related calls, texts, or emails unless you are actively checking your work phone. However, if there are no emergencies or the work can wait, let it wait until you’re back in the office. There will always be more work to be done for busy people. Don’t fall into the perpetual “getting ahead of my work” trap. You will find yourself constantly sacrificing the present for freedoms in the future that may never come to pass.
Tip #4. Don’t be afraid to take time off.
Certain office cultures make taking time off seem like a no-fly zone, but you have a right to take advantage of a much-needed mental health break. Try to plan your vacation so that your overall workflow isn’t disrupted, and plan well in advance so accommodations can be made in the event of unforeseen issues. Communicate with your colleagues to ensure that your time away doesn’t negatively impact them.
Tip #5. Work smarter, not longer.
Identify the parts of your day that are unproductive or can be streamlined. Pointless office meetings are a time-sink for everyone. While you may not be the one running the meeting, you can still use your voice to help keep everyone on track and productive. Not only will this make your meetings more valuable, but you’ll also earn brownie points with your boss.
About Matthew Cambó
Matthew Cambó is an associate attorney with Leinoff & Lemos, P.A. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America 2022 due to his exceptional focus on serving clients in family law matters. Mr. Cambó has a degree in Political Science and a J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law. He is licensed to practice in Florida and is a member of the Family Law and Young Lawyers sections of the Florida Bar.