The Happy Lawyer:
Create A Peaceful Work Environment

beachThere are some stressful aspects of practicing law that we simply can’t control, such as court-imposed deadlines and last minute motions filed by opposing counsel.The good news is that we do have the ability to control many other stress-inducing parts of our day-to-day lives as lawyers. The key is to identify what can realistically be changed that will have a positive impact on your state of mind. In fact, that was our goal when we launched our 15 blog post series last August: to showcase how making small changes to your daily life can help you become a happier lawyer.

In today’s post, the last post of this series, we’re going to focus on how you can tweak your office environment to create a more peaceful, calming workspace. By doing so, you’ll reduce your stress levels, increase productivity, and ultimately provide your clients with better representation.

Stress-reducing decor

For starters, let’s talk about decor. Choose wall colors that appeal to you, in soft, soothing tones. For ideas, consider the recommendations in this blog post about office space colors that have a positive effect on your mindset. Suggested colors include moss or olive green, gray, light brown and pale blue. For more ideas, take a look at the office color schemes found on this Pinterest board.

Another step you can take to make your workspace more comfortable is to add some greenery. Plants add color and give off oxygen, helping to improve your office’s air quality. Also try to keep your office as clutter-free as possible. Less mess leads to less stress!

Another way to make your office more liveable is to ensure that you have lots of access to natural light. Natural light is important both for your mental and physical health, as explained in this Strategist blog post:

(One) study…shows that exposure to natural light in the workplace improves office workers’ sleep, activity, and quality of life

Why? Natural light triggers circadian rhythms, our internal clocks that tell us when to wake, sleep, etc. According to Psychology Today, those who weren’t exposed to natural light at the office fared significantly worse in sleep (46 fewer minutes per night) and in other quality of life measures than those who had windowed offices.

An ergonomic work environment

Don’t forget about the benefits that an ergonomic work environment can have on both your mental and physical well being. Incorporate ergonomic work processes and office equipment into your day-to-day activities in order to ensure that you experience as little repetitive physical stress and pain as possible.

One recent ergonomic trend that many law firms are exploring is standing desks. Practicing law can often be a very sedentary process. When we’re not in court, we’re often drafting or reviewing pleadings and other documents while seated behind our desks. Standing desks are increasing in use because they help to reduce the stressors placed on your body after long hours spent seated in one position.

There are many different set ups available, as explained in this post from Attorney at Work:

The variety of desks people use ranges from custom-made to economical DIY setups. Some standing desks are actually stands that sit on a traditional desk, while others are stand-alone standing desks…There are also adjustable desks that can be used while standing or sitting.

When it comes to standing desks, your options are flexible and the type of desk you choose will vary depending on your needs and budget. It’s simply a matter of choosing a system that works best for you.

For more tips on creating an ergonomic work environment, check out our post from earlier in this series, which includes a discussion of the many steps you can take to make your office more comfortable.

Pets can reduce stress

Another way to reduce your stress levels is to consider bringing your pet to work. While this isn’t a practice traditionally embraced by law firms, it’s becoming increasingly common as more lawyers acknowledge the benefits of having their furry friends nearby as they work, as explained in this blog post from the ABA Journal:

These days it’s not uncommon for dogs, cats and other animal companions to hang out in law offices, even when clients are present.

Attorneys say bringing pets to work creates a more relaxed atmosphere and offers a welcome distraction from the intensity of legal pursuits.

And it’s not just furry animals–it’s feathered ones as well, as Florida attorney Rick Georges shares at his blog, Future Lawyer:

I now have four parrots in the office. The new addition is a Scarlet Macaw named Savannah. I have yet to have a client not be comfortable with my parrots, since they are in cages when clients are around…Having the freedom to have what I want in my waiting room is just another reason I am a solo.


Take breaks and relax throughout the day

And last, but certainly not least, make it a priority to give yourself a break! Schedule time for mental breaks. Take time to relax and think about something other than the practice of law.

One way to do this is to consider incorporating meditation into your daily routine. Our recent webinar on reducing stress by increasing mindfulness includes lots of great ideas to get you started. And on this website, there are a number of  short meditation audio clips to help you get into the meditative state of mind.

So what are you waiting for? Take a look around your office. Is it cluttered and disjointed or does it feel calming and peaceful? If it’s the former, seize the day! Implement a plan to turn your workspace into the relaxing, productive environment you’ve always wanted!

Image via Flickr

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