What They Didn’t Teach You in Law School #3: How to Take a Stress-Free Holiday Vacation

While Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day of relaxation, feasting and spending time with family, some attorneys find it difficult to leave work behind when deadlines are approaching and clients are calling. Manage work/life stress this Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays by following these tips:

Make a list, and check it twice. Take a few minutes to write down everything that you need to get done this holiday season, both at work and at home. Try to put things in order of priorities, and be sure to put personal time and family time high on the list.

After you have created a list, be sure to block out time in your calendar for everything on the list. Your calendar should include dinner with the family, exercise, and other important personal tasks, along with your work tasks and client meetings.

Let clients know ahead of time that you will be on vacation on days like Thanksgiving and other holidays by sending out a quick email to everyone on your current client roster.

In addition, set up an automatic response email to remind clients and colleagues that you are out of the office.

Give clients a way to get in touch if there is an emergency. One way to do this is by hiring a virtual receptionist to take calls for you while your office is closed for the holidays. Be sure to give the virtual receptionist instructions about when to call you and when to email you depending on the message clients leave. Hiring a real person to answer the phone will help keep clients from feeling neglected while also shielding you from calls that can wait until you get back to the office.

Ask a colleague or associate attorney to be your back up if something important comes up at a time when you cannot get back to the office, and be sure to prepare a list for assisting attorneys that describes where to locate important files, passwords, logins and contacts.

If you have not already created an authorization agreement for assisting attorneys, send clients a letter to let them know you are making arrangements to meet their needs while you are out of the office, and get their permission to disclose case files to an assisting attorney.

Finally, if you have covered all your bases in the law office, but still don’t have time to cook the turkey, enlist the help of others to help you prep for family events. You can call a family member to do the cooking, or better yet, pay someone else to do it. Places such as Omaha Steaks, Honey Baked Ham, the Goddess and Grocer, and your local grocery store can have dinner ready for pickup or delivery, saving you hours of prep, keeping kitchen clean-up to a minimum, and giving you more time to focus on sharing a few glasses of mulled wine or eggnog with your family.