As an attorney, I take the balance of being “on” and turning “off'” very, very seriously. I want to enjoy retirement and not ruin my mental and physical health in my 30s. Constantly feeling the need to be available is toxic.
Every time I put my phone away to enjoy to moment with my family it seems to happen… I get a call about a BIG case. I work all the time, but for what? To make money to support my family. So when I force myself not to look at my phone and I miss out on income, it gets harder and harder to “shut off.”
We (especially attorneys) have to make sure that we can switch off, and that might mean we aren’t available 24/7. That may mean you miss out on a case, yes, even a big one. But the alternative is a decline in your mental and physical health.
So at a reasonable hour in the evenings and on the weekends, I am pretty much unavailable. If it’s a true emergency, I can be tracked down, but rarely is it an emergency. And I have come to realize that I don’t need money so much that I would work myself to death.
50 years ago, if someone wanted to contact you, they rang, or showed up, or wrote a letter. Then came fax and beepers (remember those?). Today, we have all of that plus there are literally hundreds of messaging apps just waiting for you to check.
I am totally guilty of having separate conversations with the same person on Instagram, Facebook, text, Slack, and via email. It’s like drinking from a firehouse. There simply are not enough hours in the day to keep up with every form of communication. Reading my mail actually takes me quite a while!
If you follow me on social media, you may notice that sometimes I am totally offline. There is so much pressure to connect online, market online, sell online especially for business owners like me, and for my generation, especially during COVID.
BUT…I’d like to make it very clear that I’m not always available and that is OK.
I have never promised to be available to anyone except at my firm … I pay people to answer 904-619-5244 Monday-Friday 9-5 EST. It’s the only way that I guarantee that you can get a hold of me. Some methods of communication I simply don’t prefer or use. I particularly loathe Facebook messenger and LinkedIn so that’s the last place you can expect a response.
Some people would say it’s rude or unprofessional not to respond to every message, but it is not unprofessional to take care of yourself. I am not going to stress over the unread message from some random person that is not case related and not family related nor should I.
The truth is that I am not checking every mode of communication because I am constantly checking and responding to the forms of communication that I tell people that I am available by (office number and email). Even my personal text messages take a back seat during the workday so that I can be completely present when I am working. (My husband frequently calls my office because I didn’t answer his call or text to my cell.) That makes it much easier to do the opposite when it’s time to turn off.
Personal calls, texts, messages and actual face time with are also prioritized. I do try to make time for friends because they bring me so much joy (although not much rest because we have such fun together!) I truly love my friends and do make time for them as well as time to rest and recharge. They too require a certain level of being “on” that I have to mentally prepare in my schedule, but I make time.
I truly believe that the work you need to do can be done between the hours of 9-5 (as I write this post in the middle of the night). Please don’t kill yourself to be available for others. Enjoy this amazing life. Turn off and be at peace.