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The Zen of Work: Going on Leave

Going on Leave

As you may know by now – “Holly” has been on a mission this past year to take control of her workspace. Her aim has been to instil a feeling of Zen at her office. Something she has worked hard for. And something – as AJS – we have fully supported.

Over the course of the year, we have published a number of blogs, answering some of “Holly’s” (or more truthfully – your) most pressing (and stressful) questions. And we have always been happy to oblige. Hoping that we not only help “Holly”, but any other lawyer who finds themselves in the same position as “Holly” – not really knowing how to manage their law firm in a way that ensures they are profitable, efficient, effective and without any undue stress or worry.

But this blog is a little different to the other blogs. Because it’s not about buzz words or the practical must-haves to ensure a law firm is operating optimally.

Because this blog is all about going on leave.

Yes, you heard Holly correctly. She is closing shop and getting some R&R over the festive season. As all lawyers should be doing.

But the question most lawyers may be asking themselves – Holly included – is how to do that.

So, lets talk a little about what Holly should be doing to ensure she can go on leave without worrying about going on leave. If you know what we mean…

How to go about going on leave

First and foremost, to disconnect, you need to plan to disconnect.

Planning ahead is vital and whilst it’s difficult to predict schedules at the best of times, managing calendars and teams can be simply and effectively done if it’s planned in advance. It makes obvious sense. Also try and find a time of the year that is quiet, taking advantage of the fact that most of your clients will be on holiday at the same time that you plan to be. That way you can try to mitigate any major catastrophic legal event and reduce the likelihood that urgent matters will arise in your absence, especially if your client is having some much-needed down time too. The festive season is a perfect time to do this. Especially in South Africa where the South African courts are on recess from 5 December 2022 – 15 January 2023.

Planning ahead of time will also enable you to assess your financial situation and help you save money for those sunny days. Remember, it’s crucial that financial affairs are up to date and planned for, so money troubles (and stresses) do not creep up while on holiday. This is true for anyone but especially true for sole-proprietors and sole practitioners who need to keep their own ships afloat. Spend what you know you saved for your time off. No more.

Secondly, its crucial to let everyone know that you will be away.

Once you’ve committed to going on holiday, it’s time to let everyone know about it. Give everyone you work with – be it client, colleague, boss, correspondent, and opponent – as much advance notice as possible, even if your holiday is months away. Why is this so important? So that you can do your utmost to avoid getting calls, emails, and texts while you’re away. But advance communication is also key to prevent matters from proceeding in your absence and preventing important communications (that could have a significant impact on your matter) from coming to your attention. Good advance communication will also reduce the possibility of having your plans derailed by a sudden influx of work.

Next up – it may be obvious by now, but it’s crucial that you have the right technology in place to support you.

Having tech that can support you when you are out of the office, is not only a necessity nowadays but is also critical. It can help you check in once a day (if you absolutely need to), maintain remote contact (if necessary), to quickly assess or attend to urgent work, assign any new tasks, record billable hours or whatever else that may be pressing, before going back to enjoy the beach and your Piña colada. Being able to work remotely, even when on holiday is definitely do-able and with AJS’s web-based software, it’s more possible now than it has ever been.

Last but not least – it’s finally time to disconnect.

Being able to remain connected and work from anywhere on almost any device is all well and good, but sometimes, you really need to turn your “out of office” on and relax. Commit to doing pretty much anything that is not work. Even if that is absolutely nothing.

If “Holly” (or you) has taken the steps above and has managed to plan ahead, ensuring she has the right technology to support her, there will be nothing for “Holly” (or you) to worry about.

It’s time to enjoy the festive folly and pour yourself a glass of mulled wine.

Happy Holidays from Holly (and her team)!

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