We all know them – those lawyers and attorneys who get a million things done in the time it takes us to do 10. Each day they paint a canvass, write an article, make their budget, schmooze some clients, attend some internal meetings and go home to cook dinner and be with the kids for some youthful playtime before bed. Then they arrive at work the next day raring to go. And we have to ask ourselves – what do they know about how to be more productive that I don’t?
If you’re a law student, these are the annoying people who manage to hold down a full time job (or 2), get straight high distinctions, do extra-curricular study and projects, and exercise. Not only do they know how to be more productive than you, they’re often good looking too, which is particularly infuriating.
On the other hand there are lawyers and law students who turn up with glazed eyes, drudge through the day achieving the bare minimum, then leave to sit in front of the TV for 3 hours before bed (possibly on the couch).
Which one are you? Chances are you’re somewhere in between, but today I want to encourage you to deliberately build your energy levels. There are some tricks to do it, they’re not that complicated, and it’s important if your desire is to get more done in your allotted time.
How to be More Productive – You Need More Energy
Recently I published my article about focus. In it, I mentioned that focus was just a component of getting things done. Another component that’s particularly relevant to lawyers is productivity.
Productivity is complex, and knowing how to be more productive is really a lifelong journey, but one of the starting points for basic productivity is energy. Energetic lawyers are more productive. They attack their particular task with zeal, and then move on to the next one with similar enthusiasm.
I’m sure when you sit back and think about it, you want to be one of those people who seem to be indefatigable. No matter what happens, you want to be are full of beans for life, for business and for people. Alas the reality is often much different.
Knowing how to be more productive than others is a huge part of legal practice, just as it is for business and legal studies. After all – if you can get more done, then you can advance faster and better in your legal career or your business than others can. Energetic people are often more positive to be around as well, raising the moral of the whole team and generally being more engaging and personable.
Lots of people ask me how I “find the time” to do the things I do. Really that’s not the question – most people have time if they want to have it, but many don’t have the energy. Really it’s the energy that stops them from being more productive, not the lack of time.
Lots of productivity discussions are about tools, tricks, apps or whatever – sure they form a part, but the start of anything like this is your energy levels. None of the rest will do you any good if you don’t have enough energy.
How to get more Energy?
This isn’t rocket science – re-building your energy is pretty simple. However, if it’s something you struggle with, try these:
- Eat properly. Sounds trite? Well, plenty of people eat rubbish all the time. I’m no saint in this area, but by and large I eat OK. The better you eat, the more energy you will have. This isn’t a diet site, but if you want a place to start I suggest you cut out refined sugar and white flour. Just those two changes will get you leaps and bounds ahead if you struggle with such things (and because this isn’t a diet site, please don’t email me telling me that white flour is fine and I’m an idiot – it’s unlikely you’ll get a reply).
- Get enough sleep. Again, lots of people don’t get enough sleep. Even a small but consistent increase can help out. So far as it’s up to you, get enough sleep if at all possible. 7 hours or so works for most, but really that’s just average. Enough means…. enough. There’s no set number, but I’m sure that you have a level where you wake up and feel like you’ve got the energy to get on with the day.
- Avoid energy vampires. You know who I mean. They are the people you talk to who suck the energy out of you. You leave the conversation feeling depleted, annoyed or depressed. If your entire circle of frequent contacts are these people, then I’m afraid you need to build some new circles of contacts – this time, people who will energize you rather than those who deplete you. I’m not saying you need to “break up” with all your friends – but perhaps you need to spend less time with them, and more time with some people who fill you up instead.
- Get your personal life in order. Often a lack of energy relates to problems at home, personal issues, romance issues, or spiritual issues. You’ve got to have these things sorted in order to feel energized. Emotional and personal issues plaguing us in the back of our minds while we try and get on with other things are a constant burden. I don’t care how good you think you are at compartmentalizing: they are sapping your energy and your performance.
- Have a vision. Energy is far more attainable if you know what you’re trying to accomplish, so make sure you realise what you’re working to and why.
As with most changes in lifestyle, this might be incremental. Try incorporate a change into your routine. Then another. Then another. They will get easier and as they cascade you will find that you have more energy, more enthusiasm and far more productivity – without a recommended App in sight!
That’s how I do it – what about you? Have you made any changes that helped your energy levels? I’d love to know what helped!