April 26, 2021

How Do You "Make It Work" When Your Life Is Filled with Competing Obligations?

March 10, 2011

Be Present

"Be present." I find myself frequently repeating this short phrase. As my caseload expanded over the years, and I became more involved in bar activities and networking, I realized that I was often distracted by the obligations weighing on me. For example, I would be at a committee meeting, but thinking about the brief I had stopped working on to come to the meeting. Or, when I was at my Saturday morning pottery class, I would be thinking about the new client meeting scheduled for the following Monday morning. It was exhausting and stressful. Then I attended a seminar where the leader started by saying that she wanted everyone to put their BlackBerries away, clear their minds, and be present. Admittedly my mind started to wander soon after her presentation started, but I kept telling myself "be present," and it worked. I was able to mute the distracting thoughts in my head, and I got a lot more out of the seminar by doing so. Now, when my mind wanders off, I repeat to myself "be present" and refocus on the task at hand.

 

Sabrina C. Beavens is an associate at Iurillo & Associates, P.A. She is the chair of the Work-Life Balance Subcommittee.

Keep Perspective

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for making it all work. But, I am convinced that a good part of obtaining the balance in life is keeping perspective, i.e., focusing on the important things in life and not taking ourselves (or our jobs) too seriously. Yes, I am going to work hard for my clients, but at the end of most days, I'm going to drive home and consciously forget them so I can give 100 percent of my attention to my family (at least until after the kids are in bed). I have also found that a key to balance is to learn to say no, especially to volunteer opportunities that do not either further rainmaking and networking goals or provide an opportunity to be with my family.

 

Teresa Bult is a partner at Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP, in Nashville, Tenessee.

 

Learn to Say No

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I've gotten better at accepting that as the years have gone by. I have also learned to take a step back and evaluate opportunities that present themselves—before I say yes. Now, before I commit to a new project, I carefully consider how the activity will fit into my schedule, how it will impact my family, whether I will get to work with enthusiastic and positive people, whether it will be fulfilling, and whether I can have a positive impact. I've had to learn to say no, which is not easy to do. But, I find that things work better—and each area of my life is more rewarding—when I'm doing work that I have selected because it is especially meaningful to me.

 

Christina Plum is a staff attorney for the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is an editor for The Woman Advocate, chair of the Young Advocate Committee, and a participant in the Young Lawyer Leadership Program.

 

Learn to Delegate

To me, making it all work means letting go in ways that are not necessarily easy for a successful litigator. It means delegating—both at home and at work. This requires prioritizing work and home responsibilities and determining which of each can be successfully handled by someone else. Of course, it also requires taking the time to find and train able assistants and to be sure they know how much they are appreciated. Making it work also means accepting that there are many things that are out of your control. As a litigator, you know that your time may be dictated by the court. And, as a parent, you quickly learn that the world can stop unexpectedly for a child's illness. It takes patience and discipline to be ready for such uncertainty on a daily basis and to learn to roll with the punches. Finally, making it work means building up a support network. I wouldn't be able to get by without friends and family near and far who are willing to stop everything to help out and to offer words of encouragement. That network can help make it work even when it seems that it cannot possibly all come together.

 

Anne Marie Seibel is a litigation partner in the Birmingham, Alabama, office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. She also serves as cochair of the Woman Advocate Committee.

March 10, 2011