Much of the adrenalin-accompanied frenzy that many of us dealt with during the first couple of months of the pandemic has now given way to a sense of uncertainty and unease around what the new normal will look like at work. By now you've probably seen an influx of emails about changing policies and shifting company priorities in response to that uncertainty.
Over the last few months, we've had to adapt to an ever-changing world. If you've read any news article over the course of this pandemic or perused social media, you've probably also experienced a sense of worry and, with that, a decreased ability to focus and be productive during your work hours. What we are awakening to is the realization that, while the world around us is constantly changing, there is also a need to change the way that we engage with our work.
In the midst of this change, we launched LegalDesk to help in-house legal teams improve their collaborations with each other and with their business partners. While LegalDesk isn't equipped to babysit your kids or get your dog to stop squeaking its toy during your Zoom meetings, we have been able to address a few ways that you can thrive in and through the new normal below.
1) Be Mindful
Being mindful means being conscious and aware of the present moment. In our accelerated lives, our present moment can be filled with stressors. That stressor could show up while you are waiting in line at the grocery store or while losing internet connection during a meeting. When you experience a stressor, focus on your breath. Take three long, deep, full breaths of air and notice the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe in and out. Just like you would check in with a team member at work, schedule one or more five-minute blocks on your calendar each day to check in with yourself. Engaging in this step before steps #2 and #3 below sets you up for success. So take the time to pause and focus on your breath, recentering yourself on the present moment. Over the course of a few days, notice how your mood and focus begin to change.
2) Leverage Technology To Do More With Less
Leveraging technology can increase productivity and help you work more efficiently. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your current technology applications and help you decide on any future ones, review first what you’re already using. You are probably using multiple tools already, but a few changes may help you get more mileage out of each. The two you can start optimizing today are your calendar and email.
I utilize my calendar to remind me of everything from my manager’s birthday to when I need to send out an important project status update email.
Using your calendar for reminders can really help you stay ahead of the game and reduce stress. Set up reminders in different colors if that functionality is available in your calendar so you can easily identify them.
Whether you’re using Gmail or Outlook, there are “filters” or “rules” that you can create in the email settings to organize your emails automatically so you can focus on what matters and avoid the distraction of a cluttered inbox. For
example, filter general updates from listservs to a separate tab so you can read them when convenient rather than distracting you.
Gmail has a handy “Add to Tasks” icon that can help you create a to-do list from the emails with action items so you don’t have to worry about losing track later.
For all other work-related tasks, I strongly recommend a technical solution. Using a technology platform such as a workflow management or project management tool for all your tasks will help you keep track and stay organized. There are many tools on the market today, and assessing your business needs will help to pick the best fit for you. When you’ve found the right tool, assign deadlines for your tasks and prioritize them according to their sense of urgency. This will help you manage your time and energy for these tasks more efficiently.
3) Set Goals and Crush Them
When you set your work goals, be practical. Maybe your goal is a new legal technology implementation, or possibly improving an existing process. Write your expected result down in a clear and well-defined manner with a clear division between “must haves” and “nice to haves”. For example, if your goal is to improve an existing process, explain what the current process is, why you want to improve it, how you want to improve it, and your ideal future state of the process. Even if you don’t have the specifics just yet, it’s good to have a plan, which will allow you to be more flexible if and when that plan needs to change. Break your goal down into small, actionable steps to help you stay motivated. Keep track of your progress towards these steps and reward yourself early and often when you achieve one or more. Remember to state a deadline for bigger milestones and for your end-goal. When you’re working towards a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and crushing your goal will come that much quicker. If you catch yourself starting to slow down or make excuses, focus on taking one small action to keep making progress. Crushing your goal in the end is really about all the small actions you took to get there. As Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
The LegalDesk Team