{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "I’ve been totally buried in work for the last 2.5ish months and it’s taken a toll on me. I’m feeling very burned out, to the point where my productivity has tapered off over the past two weeks and I’m no longer able to bill the hours I want. I genuinely try, but at a certain point each day (usually around 6.5 hours) I just feel like I can’t do it anymore. My family is urging me to take PTO to recharge, but I’m too scared about losing more hours to actually do it. Does anyone have any advice?", "post_id": "6169a4baf6aedf00343f8a7d", "reply_count": 18, "vote_count": 30, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d052", "bowl_name": "Law" }

I’ve been totally buried in work for the last 2.5ish months and it’s taken a toll on me. I’m feeling very burned out, to the point where my productivity has tapered off over the past two weeks and I’m no longer able to bill the hours I want. I genuinely try, but at a certain point each day (usually around 6.5 hours) I just feel like I can’t do it anymore. My family is urging me to take PTO to recharge, but I’m too scared about losing more hours to actually do it. Does anyone have any advice?

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It’s not going to get better on its own - please take the time off. People will be understanding as long as you plan ahead with coverage, etc. as and if it’s needed.

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To get out of burnout, I have found the following helps, even though it is not the 2wks vacation that us recommended: -Go outside for at least 10 minutes in the morning. Look at nature. Forest bathe. Get some sun (Vitamin D) on your face. -Get yourself legit cleaned up and dressed. If I look better, I feel better. It is also a bit of self care. -Take at least one full day off a week, at least until you feel better, and after that, in maintenance mode, 90% of the time. Friday night to Sunday morning is my fave. I do my time and admin during the Sunday political shows while drinking coffee. Sometimes I write memos in the afternoon. It's easier when I am not interrupted by regular workday email pings and meetings. If you can take both weekend days off, do. Try to aim for 50% or fewer weekends worked, period. I would rather bill five 12h days than seven 6-7h days. You need to give yourself permission to be off. -No overnights. Every overnight costs me three days of physical recovery (sleep), when what I need instead to combat burnout is mental/emotional recovery, ie seeing my friends and family without being too exhausted to do it or enjoy it. -Get the work to do list legit in order. Ruthlessly prune or delegate anything you can. For what you keep, "I choose to do xyz" is helpful framing. -Take time for yourself. You do not need to give a reason. It is fine to say, I have an appointment. -If you have too much work because you have too many work meetings, I have recently discovered and love Viva Insights in Teams, in particular, the Focus Time feature, for this purpose. It auto recommends 1-2h blocks of focus time and sets your Teams chat to do not disturb, so you actually can do the work you already have! Also, it is easier to push back (avoid) the meeting that will result in work, than it is to get a longer amount of time to do it. -If you can outsource some personal stuff, do it. Instacart is not cheap, but I hate grocery store parking lots and checkout lines. Well worth the time savings and stress avoidance. I also love my Braava (Roomba mop that is actually quieter than a vacuum and will dust mop close enough). -Find higher recovery-quotient activities. If you are prone to comfort shopping, eating, or TV watching (passive recovery, mental "junk food"), do something more active like a bit of exercise, seeing friends, cuddling a pet, doing a hobby. You can't sleep faster, but some activities help me replenish the well faster than others. -Decrease clutter in your life, strategically. I am not suggesting a full Marie Kondo, but when you look around, is there even one quiet place your eye can rest without making you feel overwhelmed? For me, everything else can go to hell in a handbasket, but I need to see a clean kitchen island. It is one clutter-free toe hold I just have to maintain. -I know this sounds a little woo woo and all, but ask a friend for two whole weeks to text you every day (any time) three things they are grateful for, and that you will do the same. They can be small things, but you must give 3, eg, 1. I am grateful for the turn to cooler fall weather, which I love; 2) I am grateful to wear flats and crocs at home all the time during the pandemic; 3) I am grateful that pumpkin spice everyone us in season. You can do this!

likehelpful

Consider speaking to a therapist too, it’s helped me in a similar situation.

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Yeah, it’s not going to suddenly get better in my experience. You are not a machine. Listening to your body and taking PTO to recharge is wise advice. You may be anxious about “loosing” billable hours while on PTO, but that may be short sighted - you may end up loosing more billable hours if you don’t take time off.

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And your life

Please take PTO. Your body is telling you what it needs. If you continue to ignore it, it’ll just get worse :/ also I love the therapy idea. It’s very helpful in our profession for sure.

likesmart

Don't worry about low hours for two weeks or even two months. 6.5hrs a day is still great (especially with feeling burned out). With a few hours on the weekend, you're still hitting target and well over with the busier months. That said, take the time! No matter how great your firm, you NEED to prioritize your health. No one else can do that for you. The road to recovering from burn out is resting. Nothing else you can do but rest. So rest. And, in my experience, resting before you are burnt to a crisp is exponentially more helpful. In my view, resting will also help you build your overall capacity.

likesmart

Just to provide more information, no one has noticed my lower hours yet (our managing partner reviews associate billing hours every week). Or if they have, they haven’t said anything yet.

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How many hours did you bill the past 2.5 months?

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I guess it’s been closer to 3 months, actually, that I’ve had an insane to-do list. I billed 195.5 in July, 179.35 in August, 152.45 in September (That month was lower because I’m Jewish and took time off to observe the high holidays, which my firm knows).

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Talk to a counselor ASAP. Life is too short to be living and working like this. If you feel like you don’t have the time to do that, give up some of your billing time. In this environment, I don’t think that you’re going to get fired for billing 6 hours a day. Maybe a talking-to or guilt-trip, but who gives a hoot?

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I’ve been seriously burned out for about 3 weeks, worse than I ever have been before. I regularly meet with a therapist, and he’s told me it’s not going to get better until I take time off and take care of myself. I can’t take more than a day or two off right now due to some personal things going on, but I am going to as soon as it’s possible. Please take the PTO and take care of yourself. Do more than a long weekend. Give yourself enough time to rest, recharge, and do things you enjoy. Then you can come back refreshed and productive. Delaying it will only prolong your burnout and make it even harder to bill.

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If you don’t choose a day to rest, your body will choose it for you. You don’t want to get to that point.

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Why are you “scared about losing hours”? Are you on track to meet your minimum? Are you ahead of where you should be for this time of year? If so, then take the damn time off. This profession ebbs and flows. If you don’t take advantage of the downtime (or make downtime for yourself), you’ll never make it.

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I think this is the most important issue. It’s not clear to me why “losing hours” would even be a concern if you’ve been billing an unusual amount. Sounds like time to disconnect and recharge.

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Take a vacation for a week. Totally unplug. Be with family and friends. Do nothing connected to your job. Get a massage. Feel better.

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Rest is productive too! I hope you can take time off and recharge, you may come back to billing your usual in which case time “lost” would end up helping you have more hours in the end. Good luck!

Please take all of the preceding comments to heart. Unfortunately, in all likelihood, your “job” does not care about your overall health just your productivity. You need to take care of yourself to preserve your longevity for yourself and your family and friends who care about you. If you can’t accomplish this at your current firm, find another job that is more conducive to a healthy lifestyle. Good Luck! We are pulling for you!

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