Maintaining a Balance for Military Justice

Two attorneys separately approached me to ask whether I had any wisdom about how to achieve work-life balance. My reply was, partly in gest, “what balance?”

I could tell they were earnest in their inquiry, so I set out to try.

It really is about setting boundaries and adhering to them.

There are no such things as legal emergencies; not really.

When clients call and they don’t have an appointment, I ignore their calls. I also expect the of counsel who work in my name to ignore them. And then to do as I do and to send them the link to schedule for when they are available. [I am vigilant for the emergency text message or voicemail for a client in crisis – emotionally they are at high risk for self-harm, but those emergencies are thankfully, exceedingly rare.]

I must set a calendar to have boundaries. Otherwise, I end up putting out fires all day and never accomplishing what I need to do.

When I am working on a deadline or a writing assignment, I put my phone somewhere I don’t look at it. And then I keep it there until I am scheduled to not be working on that matter. Hint: I schedule my entire day, but I build in time away from my desk and my screen.

Dinner time is sacrosanct.

And I do yoga (just about) every morning. I set an intention, and my usual one is that I am entitled to this time to have a positive thought that won’t leave me wondering whether I should be spending the time on work, or folding laundry, or prepping what will be dinner.

Habits become our character, so I am very methodical. [I highly recommend Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear.]

My rule also is that if I didn’t get it done before dinner, it’s not going to get done unless there’s an actual deadline to the client. That time after engaging with family and bedtime is fundamental to restoring energy to take on the next day.

I also ask myself daily – Did I do everything that I absolutely needed to do today to fulfill my obligations to my family, to my clients, and to myself? This question is what I ask before I pray each night (acknowledging all I have, to celebrate in gratitude) and then before I do a calming / sleep meditation.

And I sleep. Or at least I do my very best to. But I promise I do sleep.


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