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Lawyers could benefit from a Smartphone vacation

As more and more of us have a smartphone glued nigh-on constantly to our hands, the time has come to question the idea that we need to be reachable 24/7.

Whilst larger firms have multiple partners on board to keep things running smoothly, smaller firms often feel a certain pressure to be constantly ‘on’, even when they’re supposedly taking a much-needed break. With the dawn of the smartphone, we’re suddenly able to access emails and other forms of communication wherever we go, making it incredibly difficult to just switch off. Despite the ability to set up an ‘out of office’ response, many lawyers still succumb to responding during holiday time.

Although being anxious about your caseload is understandable, the irrational fear that the moment you unplug from communication is the moment a vital email pings into your inbox is an irrational one. Taking a step back for a week or two now and then is actually a vital component of a successful firm. Subjecting yourself to burnout leaves you less able to function, whilst a rest and a change of scenery is a kind of reset button which allows you to return refreshed and ready to work.

Below, we outline what you can do to keep thing running smoothly in your absence, and how you can take an anxiety-free smartphone holiday.

Let People know well in advance

Tell all of your colleagues, suppliers, and clients that they won’t be able to reach you for a while in advance of your break. Make sure they’re clear on the dates, and know who to contact in your absence if something important crops up. It’s also a good idea to put a backup plan in place, just in case something which can only be dealt with by you does come up. This might involve providing a landline number where you can be reached, or having a trusted colleague check your emails whilst you’re away. When using the former option, be sure to include the landline number in your out of office email.

This is a simple strategy, but it works – having a backup plan in place will help to assuage any anxiety you might be having.

Use a basic phone during your holiday

If you think the pull of the email might be just too strong, it could be worth investing in a basic ‘dumb phone’ to use whilst you’re away. Purchasing a cheap, simple handset which can only be used to make calls and texts will allow you to escape the deluge of emails, without losing the ability to communicate altogether. It’s hard to be pulled back into work if you simply don’t have the option!

Remove some sources of distraction

If you really need to take your smartphone with you on your break, you can still help mitigate some of the work-related distractions which it can entail. Temporarily remove your work email account from your email app, or turn off notifications on any messaging services used for work. This means the option to check for messages is still there, but only when you decide. Without push notifications, you’ll be free of distractions and hopefully be able to find some breathing space.

Phone-free spaces

Another good way to keep your phone about without having it undermine your holiday is to designate tech-free spaces, whether you’re staying at home, or travelling. Your bedroom, living room, or kitchen are all prime spaces to implement a ban on all internet enabled devices. Simply leaving your phone, tablet or laptop in a different room is a simple but effective way to take a proper break. Having to leave the room every time you want to check your phone is a great way to put you off – especially if friends and family are helping to police the zone!

Remember why you’re taking a break

Taking a step back from your smartphone can be challenging for all sorts of reasons. Besides being drawn to work-related communications, many apps – particularly social media – are designed to be addictive, so you spend as much time as possible looking at advertisements. By cutting back on screen time whilst on holiday, you can invest chunks of time on more important things. This could be catching up on some reading, or simply taking a few breaths and clearing your mind whilst you stand in an elevator or queue.

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