Top 10 Tips for Mastering Work-Life Integration in Your Law Firm
8–10 minutes to read
We live two lives — a life at home, and a life at work.
Most people suggest that you find a way to balance those lives, but here at Crisp, we disagree. We believe you actually only have one life. The key, then, is integrating your life at home and your life at work.
Let’s face it: though it may feel like you live two different lives, you’re still the same person. We may alter our personalities a bit in certain environments, but we’re still the same mind in the same body in both places.
It’s not impossible to blend all aspects of your life together, though some have been trained to think this way. That’s why finding areas of integration and compromise is vital to living a happy and successful life.
In this article, we’re going to cover 10 proven ways to integrate and differentiate your work-life and your home-life — because, ultimately, they’re one in the same. It’s your life.
Work-Life Integration Basics
Let’s begin by understanding the difference between the two words:
Balance: a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.
Integration: an act or instance of combining into an integral whole.
While you want to give your all both at work and at home, it’s not an accurate reflection of yourself to separate them completely. As a law firm owner, the business you’ve built, the people you help, and your mission in life is part of you. The values you live by in the courtroom also guide you in relationships with friends and family.
True authenticity means integrating your personal and professional life.
Here are some ways for you to accomplish true integration:
- Build in think time
- Involve your family in your mission
- Optimize your calendar
- Practice good mental hygiene
- Create (and enforce) non-negotiables
- Communicate with your team
- Delegate to elevate
- Know when to rest
- Take care of your health
- Fill your cup
1. Build in think time
We’ve all been in situations where we’ve got so much to do that we decide to barrel through anything and everything we can get our hands on. Whether it’s at home or at work, having a stacked calendar can be difficult to manage.
Good news: it doesn’t have to be that hard. You get to control your time and how you spend it.
Integrate the powerful practice of “think time” into your life.
Successful entrepreneurs understand that building in time to think is essential to success. If you leave some room for brainstorming, organizing, and breathing, you’ll have a much better chance at juggling all of your responsibilities and managing them all with time to spare.
2. Involve your family in your mission
Owning and operating your own law firm is hard work and not for the faint of heart. Even if you’re as tough as they come, everyone needs a supporter (or multiple) standing behind them and rooting them on.
For most entrepreneurs, their families are their biggest supporters. In fact, family is often the reason leaders start their own business in the first place. Whether their mission is to make the world a more just place or make their own communities a safer home, families are a huge driving force in so many missions.
If you take the time to explain to your spouse, parents, or children what your firm is all about, it will bring them onboard with you — and remind you of a greater sense of purpose to what you’re building.
3. Optimize your calendar
As the CEO of your company, your role is all-consuming. A recent study showed that leaders work nearly 10 hours per weekday on average and conduct business on 79% of weekend days.
Because the life of a CEO is so demanding, it can feel like your calendar runs you, not the other way around. Developing good time and attention management habits — as well as organizing and prioritizing your calendar — will help you align your time with an integrated, whole-self approach to living.
Consider blocking every hour of your day with the priorities, obligations, and activities that keep you on top of your game. That means work meetings, court appearances, and family soccer games and dance recitals. Note where you’re committed to being, when you’re committed to be there, who’s involved, and what you’re supposed to bring.
Your attention is needed both at home and at work. When you block off time for both, you can make sure you’re where you need to be when you need to be there. Fulfill both your professional and personal needs and integrate in a way that works for you.
Having friends or family members distract you can take away from your time to focus at work. Alternatively, responding to work communications during family time leaves you and your loved ones feeling unfulfilled. If everyone in your life knows what you are available for before they have to ask you, that eliminates the possibility of disconnect and discontent.
4. Practice good mental hygiene
Instead of stunting your creative growth, use the time that you would normally spend mindlessly doom-scrolling social media to watch a helpful webinar or listen to a growth-oriented podcast. Whatever you feel is going to help you achieve transformation, do it.
The most harmful thing you can do is consume anything and everything that the media decides to throw at you. Not only does it have the power to bring down the quality of your organization, but your family and personal wellbeing as well. Instead of sitting in front of the television letting your mind rot, grow together and work together.
Better your mind — and your family’s and your team’s in the process.
5. Create (and enforce) non-negotiables
Non-negotiables. They’re the key to integration.
If you clearly define what is most important to you — at home and in the office — and then communicate it transparently and live by it every day, you’ll never feel you’re compromising on your life’s greatest priorities.
For example, Crisp Founder & CEO Michael Mogill put personal non-negotiables in place when his first daughter was born. He made it clear that he committed to being home by 6:30 every single night in order to ensure he could be there for her nightly bath — no questions asked. Whether this meant getting to work earlier in the day or getting back to work once bath time was over, he did what he had to do and didn’t sway.
Do the same in your law firm. Whether it’s a personal or a professional non-negotiable, make sure your team and your family knows when and what those top priorities are so that they know not to disrupt those events — and that you are a leader of integrity who abides by his word.
6. Communicate with your team
If you are the heart of your law firm, your team is the blood. If you’re distant and seemingly uninterested, expect your team to act the same way. In order to keep the momentum going, you’ve got to talk to them, ask questions, and be interactive. Show them you care, and in return, they will show you their appreciation and dedication time and time again.
Respect the personal lives that your team members are trying to integrate into their professional ones too. Encourage them to take a whole-self approach to their development. Invest in their personal growth as well as professional skills.
Team members often view the owner of their company as someone who can’t possibly fathom their life outside of work, so make sure they understand your viewpoint.
7. Delegate to elevate
If there’s something that needs to be done that might not be the best use of your time, designate a team member to take ownership instead.
Not only does this help you, but it also gives your team a chance to step up and take on accountabilities, leading to growth opportunities and leading with their strengths. It also instills confidence and trust between you and your team members knowing that you can count on them to help and vice versa.
How can your team be better if they don’t know what to expect? Let them know up front what you need from them, when you need it, what to do, and how to improve.
At Crisp, one of our core values is Results Driven, Not Effort Driven. If you let your team know what results you need from them and equip them with the tools they need, they’ll make it happen.
The beauty of running your own law firm is that people want to help you. They know how much it means to you and they want to be successful by your side. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
8. Know when to rest
No one can be 100 percent great 100 percent of the time. Sometimes you get sick, or you have a prior commitment, or you just aren’t in a good headspace to give your absolute best to your team or your clients (or your family, for that matter). That is okay.
Rest is a key component of success. Not only does it heal your body, but it also reduces stress, boosts creativity, improves productivity, and enhances decision-making — all of which you need to be the best leader you can be.
As a law firm owner, your days are constantly filled. Almost every part of your job involves working with people. It’s important to live up to the high standards you set for yourself, especially when you’re setting an example for your entire office. Know when you need to take a step back to recover and recharge in order to come back the next day stronger than ever.
9. Take care of your health
All too often, leaders get stuck behind their computer screens and under stacks of files, neglecting their physical health. If this is the case for you, build infrastructure into your day to get your blood flowing.
Even if it’s just a 20-minute walk away from your desk (or on a treadmill desk you invest in for your office) incorporating intentional movement into your day will do wonders for your overall health. And, please, don’t forget to eat. Your brain becomes less effective when your body isn’t nourished, and you can’t lead effectively if you aren’t taking care of yourself mentally and physically.
10. Fill your cup
Attorneys and business leaders (AKA you as a law firm owner) give their all when it comes to supporting and leading. But what happens when the cup from which you pour becomes empty?
Make sure you understand what activities recharge and replenish you and which ones don’t. Ask for help when you need it. Take some time to relax your mind if you need a break.
Does yoga recharge you? Feel like something is missing without your monthly book club meeting? Need time in nature to quiet your mind? Build in essential activities into your week so that you can be your best self for your law firm and your family.
That’s what integrating your professional and personal lives is all about: finding routines that work for you and knowing you aren’t alone.
And just like that, you have all of the tools you need to integrate your work and personal life.
Remember, they are one and the same — so why aren’t you treating them as such?
Take care of yourself. Take care of your law firm. Take care of your family. Take care of your team. Take care of your clients. Take care of your community. Be the best you can be in everything you do. With these 10 tips, you’re well on your way to making that happen.