1. Have an organised, manageable inbox
I started 2014 with an overwhelming, 4,000-plus emails in my inbox. However, after cutting down the emails I receive (subscriptions, alerts), setting up folders and committing to respond to difficult emails promptly, I’m pleased to say I have an organised inbox of less than 1,500 which I intend to whittle down to 200 by year’s end. It reduces my stress and makes it much easier to find what I need. I recommend you try cleaning up your email before the year gets fully underway.
2. Commit to being happier at work
I’m lucky in that I love my job – but the reality of commercial law can be less inspiring for some. At the recent LIV Christmas party, I quizzed young lawyers on how much they enjoyed their job using a rating of one to 10. For those who gave a score lower than seven, I urged them to change either to a new role, or to challenge their organisation to change their roles or the way in which they operate. I actively work at emphasising the positives of what I do, including embracing the fantastic human interactions I am privileged to have every day, always striving to master new skills, keeping in mind the future I’m striving towards, and trying to be generous with my time and advice when it can help. While we can’t be happy all the time, I believe we can all be that bit happier at work in 2015.
3. Focus on breaking bad habits
Talking in legalese; not keeping detailed file notes or documenting client instructions; or, a common one, avoiding the cost question, are all common bad habits of lawyers. Check my blog on lawyers’ bad habits and see if you are guilty of any – then make a commitment to break it in 2015.
4. Slow down your life
You’ve identified that you are just too busy and it’s making you sick and miserable. This year, simplify your life by learning to say no, cutting down on unnecessary activities, delegating more and making sure you prioritise important things like family and exercise. Trust me, your family and friends will thank you for it.
5. Find a job you love
It’s hard to be happy at work if you hate your job – or even if you’re simply bored and unchallenged by it. So whether you have a new boss you don’t get on with, you can’t seem to get that promotion, or toxic colleagues are making you sick with stress – 2015 is the time to move on. So start polishing your resume, get some advice from trusted colleagues, update your LinkedIn profile and start reaching out to your network. Don’t let fear or apathy be your enemy – a job you can love may be just around the corner.
6. Download a new app to improve your productivity
There are so many apps out there that can help you to do your job better – you just can’t afford to ignore them. Why not pick at least one that can make you a more productive lawyer and start using it. You just might find (like me) that you are left wondering how you lived without it.
7. Mind your Ps & Qs
Believe it or not, this year’s most popular blog was about lawyers’ etiquette. Let’s face it, the legal profession has its fair share of unwritten rules: everything from how to address the judge, dress (in court and office) and technology manners to client relationships is a potential minefield. I think having a good understanding of lawyers’ etiquette can make you a more confident and effective lawyer, so it’s worth a refresher every now and then.
8. Show your appreciation for a job well done
I don’t think we take enough time to thank those around us, and show our appreciation for a job well done. So, to all those members who got involved through a committee, assisted with a submission, volunteered in community projects, provided advice or who engaged with their local member, I say a heartfelt thank you.
But wait, there’s more! I leave you with one final tip: believe in yourself more this year. If you dare to dream, more often than not you can make your dreams a reality.
Geoff Bowyer (pictured) is the managing director of Bendigo firm Beck Legal and the immediate past president of the Law Institute of Victoria.