Working on the weekend
This past Friday I was leaving work at 3:00 to go out of town. I had a few things that I wanted to get done, however, I knew before the day started that there wasn't going to be time. I, therefore, started on a list of things to do on Sunday night when I got back to town.
The Sunday before last, I went in to the office at 3:00p.m. and worked a solid four hours. I got several things done that I don't think I would have completed if there was a chance I would be interrupted. It felt great to start the week feeling like I was ahead of the game. It seemed natural that I would want to repeat that experience.
I didn't end up going out of town because of the weather, but I did spend a lot of Saturday dreading going into the office to work on Sunday afternoon. I didn't feel the same way last weekend so it was a bit of a surprise. It seemed logical to take a few hours of uninterrupted time to get things done - particularly when it would provide revenue. So what was my problem?
I realized I was spending far too much of my Saturday playing tug-of-war with whether I should work or not; it was a few hours - again, what was my problem? I ended Saturday with saying no; no work on Sunday. I started Sunday with saying yes. Later I said no. And true to form, I analyzed why the two different experiences in my weekends. I will call them week one and week two.
Week One I had missed some normal work hours because of weather delays and worked a half day because of a sick child. Week Two I put in 40 hours, plus the Sunday time. Week One I had come off a four-day week because I was sick. Week Two I put in five and a half days. I seem to be getting somewhere with this analogy. My body and brain only does well with a 40 hour workweek. Caveat: unless I have a trial or big hearing I am working towards that week.
I don't work on Saturdays. I never have. I made a rule to not study on Saturdays during law school and studying for the bar and it worked just fine. I do work on Sundays if I have a trial that week or an appeal that is due or a hearing where I will be presenting evidence. I really try to limit Sundays to things that need a block of time and are a better product if I spend more than 2 hours of time on them. The Sunday after week one, I had to get a handle on my billing. I needed uninterrupted time to get it done right or it causes more work and headaches later.
But I don't need to work on billing every Sunday. I don't need to work every weekend. But I need a set of rules to know when I spend time on the weekend practicing law. When I have some hardline rules, I don't have to do the tug-of-war on a Saturday and feel guilty on Sunday. I just have to start with asking myself why should I give up my time on the weekend - revenue generating work or not.
I am a 40 hour a week lawyer. I hustle every minute that I am at work. There is no need to drain my resources by working extra time on the weekend if there isn't a very important reason to do so.
For attorneys that don't have the option to work less than 40 hours a week, you can still create hardline rules for your weekends or for your weekdays. Limit distractions, protect your time, use your personal and technology resources to get the work done.
Protect your time. Its the most coveted resource we have.