In the legal profession, burnout can creep up on you faster than you think. Long hours and late nights might feel necessary as a lawyer, but if you’re not properly taking care of yourself, physical and emotional exhaustion can quickly leave you ineffective in both your personal and professional life.
Consider: A study from John Hopkins University that looked at the prevalence of major depression in 104 different occupations found that lawyers were 3.6 times more likely to experience depression than those in other professions. In other words, lawyers need to take extra care to manage a healthy work-life balance despite the stresses that come with their chosen career.
Building healthy habits is key to recovering from burnout (or avoiding it altogether). To stay balanced, you’re meant to get more sleep, get your body moving, disconnect from technology once in awhile, and work smarter, not harder. It all seems pretty straightforward—until you’re in the middle of a trial and any semblance of a normal sleep schedule goes out the window.
Luckily, technology can help you stay on track. There are plenty of apps that can help you manage your time better, keep track of your fitness, and improve your mental health in just a few minutes a day.
Here are a few apps to help you prevent burnout:
Calm: For Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is a powerful tool for overcoming stress and anxiety. (Jeena Cho, author of The Anxious Lawyer, talks about it here.) However, as a busy lawyer, you may have trouble finding time to run to a half hour yoga class or to meditate in the morning before work while the kids are running around.
This is where Calm comes in. It helps you meditate, wherever you are, whenever you have time, and for just as long as you want. Follow a guided meditation, or listen to relaxing sounds while you meditate alone. Trouble sleeping? Try a bedtime guided meditation, guaranteed to lull you into a deep sleep in no time.
The free version of Calm is fairly limited, but you can get a subscription for as little as $9.99. A lifetime subscription will set you back $299.99.
Endomondo: For Fitness
To keep the symptoms of burnout at bay, you need to get your body moving. Sitting is the new smoking, but regular physical activity can increase your energy, improve your mood, and even help you sleep.
Just 5–10 minutes of activity per hour can help dampen the effects of sitting at your desk all day. But will you remember to stand up for a few minutes when you’re deep in concentration, or on a tight deadline?
A fitness tracker like Endomondo can help you stay accountable to your goals. It’s meant for runners and cyclists, but there’s no reason lawyers can’t use it at the office.
Set daily goals for how much you need to be up from your desk, and track your progress each time you get up to stretch or take a short walk. Endomondo lets you add friends as well, so you can get your fellow lawyers on board and keep each other accountable.
The app is free, but you can subscribe to a premium version for $2.50 per month.
Tip: Want to make sure you’re getting enough physical activity with even less effort? Your device may have a pre-installed app that tracks your health automatically. Try turning on Apple Health on your iOS device or
S Health on your Samsung device to track your activity.
Rescue Time: For Time Management
If you truly want to avoid overwork and burnout, you’ll need to manage your time effectively. This is certainly an area where lawyers could improve—on average, they spend just under 30 percent of their days on billable work, according to the Legal Trends Report.
There are plenty of apps to help you track and save time, but to make positive changes, you need to know where your time is going in the first place.
Luckily, there’s an app for that. RescueTime tracks time spent on different applications and websites to give you an accurate picture of your day. It runs securely in the background on your mobile device or computer.
Granted, RescueTime won’t tell you how much time you’ve spent on non-computer related tasks, but it’s a start.
Try running the program for a few weeks to get an idea of when you’re most productive, and where you could be more efficient. For instance, do you tend to check your email in the morning or afternoon? How long does it take? Do you run through emails faster if you switch up your schedule?
These three apps are a great place to start, but don’t be afraid to look at other apps and tools to help manage your wellbeing. Burnout is real, and it can hit you hard. But, if you take time to find balance and manage the stresses that come with practicing law, you’ll be better positioned for a long and successful legal career.