Winter solstice began at 2:02 a.m. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the Sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky.
From this point on, the days will be getting longer. Symbolizing hope, change, and a path forward from 2020.
The Great Conjunction
Weather permitting, go outside an hour after sunset (5:30) and enjoy the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Look toward the Southwestern sky.
Winter, the holidays, the pandemic… Maintaining hopefulness is more challenging than ever. We know the vaccines are coming, but they aren’t an instant cure-all. What can we do at home, in our personal lives, to boost our well being?
Meet new people. Download NextDoor, a free, private social networking app for neighbors. Introduce yourself and reach out to others with the same interests. Find things to buy or sell. Get suggestions on local businesses or to-go food from neighborhood restaurants.
Plan a day trip. Make a lunch, gas up the car, and drive. We’ve all been cooped up and each of us is over it. But no matter where you live – especially in our state – there’s a great place to visit within a one or two hour drive. Why not hop in the car and go? Mask up if necessary and shy away from crowds.
Find a new do-at-home activity. Etsy is a great place to buy inexpensive DIY craft kits. Go beyond your comfort zone. Revisit a lost or neglected skill or try something new. Have fun. It doesn’t matter whether it “turns out” or not.
Do something to brighten someone’s day. If you’re of a mind, Pay It Forward the next time you’re in line for coffee or make a neighbor smile. Cut sprigs of greenery, tie up with ribbon, yarn, or twine, make a loop, then hang on front doors. Herbs like Rosemary or small branches from evergreens work well for this.
COVID, wildfires, court operations, and closures dominated headlines and our lives. So did the tech world, the hard work of staying productive, and not letting the stress of it all get to us.
Hopefully you found some useful posts in 2020. If you’ve been battling procrastination, there is help. If you need to jump start your marketing, I did a four part series in July. If collecting fees has been … challenging … I have a few suggestions. Here’s a recap of substantive topics covered in the past twelve months. And here’s to 2021!
When was the last time you paused, thought about the recent past, and made a plan for the future?
I know. You’re busy. Clients are calling. Cases demand attention. But you do too. STOP. Now.
The first step is easy
Open your calendar, find a free time slot. Preferably an afternoon, but I’ll take an hour if that’s all you can find. Set a date to reflect and plan.
When the time arrives
Don’t blow it off. Put files, to do lists, and your phone aside.
Set the scene by transitioning away from work. Take a quick walk or listen to music for a few minutes. When you’re ready, sit down with pen and paper. Avoid electronics, as the tendency to stray into work may be too tempting.
Take a self audit
What went well this year? What went poorly? Where do you want to be in 2021? Any ideas about what you might do differently? If no thoughts come to mind, make a list of people you can call. Talking through what to do and how to get there can be a tremendous help.
The ABA COLAP Cafe recently reprinted an excellent article on conducting a year-end self audit. Access it here. Take advantage of our own LAP (lawyers assistance program). The Oregon Attorney Assistance Program is free and confidential. If you know you want change and are at a loss about next steps, or just want someone to run your thoughts by, the OAAP can help. Visit the OAAP website to contact an attorney counselor. Consider scheduling a phone conference now as a follow up to your reserved planning date.
If you are feeling anxious or stressed, you are in good company. The coronavirus is a triple threat of worry. We are concerned for our health, the safety of family and friends, and the viability of our practices. What can we do?
Don’t Brush it Off
Before you tune out … Are you having difficulty concentrating? Been making small mistakes? Is doing work the last thing you want to deal with right now? Do you sense staff or colleagues might be having some of these reactions?
Please read this post. Even if you’re powering through this like a champ, someone else may not be.
Make Safe Social Connections
Make regular phone calls – to colleagues, clients, friends, and family. Send texts, email, video conference. Do more than conduct business when reaching out for work. Offer support. You’ll get it back in return. It’s not just a saying – we really are in this together.
Once you start the habit of connecting, keep it up. Use your calendar to schedule time for daily calls and contacts.
Get Up and Out
Get out of the house. Take advantage of the uplifting benefits of going on walks with household family members or pets. If the situation dictates, walk alone. Give a friendly wave or exchange a few words at a distance with others who are out and about.
Take Care of Yourself
Walking will help. So will turning off the news and putting down devices. Keep a regular sleep schedule. Eat healthy.
Even when some things are out of our control, there are always things that we as individuals and communities can control.
Wise words from Deschutes County Public Health Authority.
Follow physical health recommendations made by the experts.
Read tomorrow’s post on suggestions for how to work remotely.
Schedule phone calls and other social and professional connections as noted above.
Review and prioritize work to do on specific files. Make a to-do list, then transfer the to-dos to your calendar by scheduling appointments with files to get the work done.
Remember to make time on your calendar to do admin tasks like billing. Set aside dates/times to get statements out. Feeling guilty about billing clients right now? Offer payment plans. You have a family to support as well.
Address concerns about getting new clients by revisiting your marketing plan. People still need legal advice, perhaps more so now. Be creative. Change up how you meet, interview, and collect documents. Use technology whenever you can. When you can’t, seek out alternatives. They may not be ideal, but if they work, so what? For example, sending a non-tech potential client a postage-paid manila envelope to obtain papers. (Remind clients to let mail sit without physical contact to protect their health, then take your own advice. The virus survives on surfaces for varying amounts of time. See tomorrow’s post on working remotely.)
Remain calm and reassuring. If true, emphasize to your children that they and your family are fine.
Make yourself available. Let your children talk and give them plenty of time and attention.
Talk to children in language they can understand. The CDC suggests telling children that, from what doctors have seen so far, most kids aren’t getting very sick. In fact, most people who have gotten COVID-19 haven’t gotten very sick. Only a small group have had serious problems. Keep the conversation going. Make time to check in regularly as the situation develops. Take cues from your child if they become afraid or overwhelmed offer comfort. If you need help, seek professional health.
Avoid language that stigmatizes or assigns blame. Remind children that viruses can make anyone sick, regardless of a person’s race, ethnicity or national origin. Monitor television viewing and social media. Try to limit children’s exposure to media and talk about what they are seeing. Use only reliable sources of information.
Teach strategies to prevent infection. Remind children to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds (or the length of two “Happy Birthday” songs) when they come in from outside, before they eat, and after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing, or using the bathroom. Find more information, visit this resource.
Maintain healthy behaviors and household routines. Serve nutritious meals, encourage adequate sleep and exercise, and maintain household routines to the extent possible.
When to Seek Help
Seek help if you’re struggling with persistent inability to sleep, increasing drug or alcohol use, an overwhelming sense of depression or panic, urges to harm yourself or others, or an inability to take care of yourself or those who depend on you.