What does everyone here to do to maintain work-life balance as a paralegal? I know it's a little bit silly of a question, but I am sincerely asking for advice.

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Sounds obvious but I simply do not work past 5. There are occasions when things happen and it is necessary to but I don’t make a habit of it. As soon as you blur that boundary, people take advantage of it. Hard cut off at 5. I do have great bosses though who respect our working hours. At my last firm I had to be pretty assertive with working outside of working hours. I’m in litigation so obviously there are going to be times when my hours are different. At this point I know when things are actually urgent/not urgent and I will respectfully push back if someone asks me to do something after 5 that I know can wait until the morning.

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I second the above. Set a hard boundary and see if you can silence or mute work notifications on your phone after work hours. Obviously things will come up and you deal with them, but otherwise once 5:30 (for me anyway) comes around, I’m out.

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Yes maintaining boundaries like not checking emails after work hours and not working on your lunch break are good ideas for balance in conjunction with setting working hours.

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I’m in big law so I really have to take things into my own hands and do whatever I can. I take breaks during the day. I do not seek out work when I have downtime (because I know something is coming my way soon enough…). I don’t answer every single phone call and every single email immediately. If I am eating or taking a break, and I know the call or email is likely urgent, I wait to respond. I don’t assume urgency when someone emails me unless they specifically say so. I ask for deadlines. I take time in my job to reach out to other paralegals and connect with them. I know when to grind and I know when to not grind. Basically, I don’t walk around acting like a senior attorney who is getting a 75k bonus and half a million dollars a year. And if I did, I’d be a moron. That’s not to say I don’t kill myself at work - I do - and I’m compensated extremely well for it. I specialize in trials and when we are on, we are on. I’m away from home, away from my family, working 16+ hours a day. But when I’m not doing that, I have to know what my boundaries are.

Speaking from my experience in big law in the NY area, specifically, I find that paralegals who truly have no balance are 95% at fault for their circumstances, because this is a *massive* job market, and so you are not a victim. You can leave. *You* set the tone about how quickly you respond to people. You decide if you’re scared of the partner and scared for your job or not. You choose to take on more assignments when you don’t have time. You let the firm tell you how much is too little and how much is too much. You choose to do all of that stuff yourself; no one is making you.

These are all things I keep in mind when I think about balance. It’s been a long road, people!!

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Like everyone else has said, set boundaries but also enforce them. If you're an hourly employee and your employer is reaching out to you outside of your scheduled time, don't respond to any calls, texts, emails, etc. I made this mistake with my last office; I gave an inch, and they took many, many miles. Now that I'm managing a new office, I heavily stress a work-life balance for my hourly employees. I even put my foot down with the partners who have asked me to contact employees that are out sick or are scheduled to be out that day. If you're a salaried employee, this is where the lines start to blur a bit, but you're still allowed to have boundaries and enforce them. Set a cut-off time for yourself. You know your schedule better than anyone, so you know how much you can and can't give each day, but always remember that you have to put yourself first. If you're not mentally or physically doing well, it will bleed over into your work. Side note, but I have a little bit of "artwork" hanging in my office that reads, "Your lack of planning is not my emergency."

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I refuse to put emails on my phone. I don’t get paid enough for that. I just laugh when she’s “on vacation” and I still get emails from her.

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I am accustomed to 10 or more hour days, but recently went in house and I only work 7-3 and I struggle. For 20 years, I was accustomed to chaos at work and home as I raised 2 kids alone and now that my kids are grown, I crave the long hours.

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I moved 30 minutes from the beach, so I go there weekly. It's hard when all you did for 23 years was raise kids and bust your butt working. Hopefully my youngest will move here soon since I don't know a single soul where I moved and I'm an introvert so going out isn't really my thing 😁

I do not work past five. I do not work on weekends. This includes not reading ring central texts and notvreading emails. Now if my attorney or one ofvthe partners text me, I will respond and handle that because that means it is emergent. It is all about setting boundaries.

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I’m in the same boat, it’s hard to create a work life balance. I do not work past 4 pm because that is my off time. Unless they pay me overtime, I will not do it. I actually go in the office, I don’t work from home. So I will not work late due to traffic. I don’t get emails on my phone and I set my “out of office email” every day when I leave. It’s hard because I work for a National firm that has offices in different time zones. They forget I’m in EST, and am gone at 4 pm. Especially when they send me “due todays” at 3 pm my time when it’s 1 or 2 pm their time. I told them I will not adjust my hours because they’re in a different time zone unless I get a raise. I will not let them take away my time with my loved ones. It’s hard when I get there in the mornings and have a bunch of emails that were sent after I left.

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Sounds like you and I are in the same boat. 🤦🏻‍♀️

Not silly at all; creating work & life balance it’s extremely hard at least for me; I am in PI litigation and maybe Iam just not good at creating those boundaries because I experienced backlash or that it worked against me when I decide not to go beyond the working hours; i always feel like a hamster on a wheel; something that I definitely need to work on; i wish & dream of having control over my schedule; that’s my ultimate dream but strongly believe will never happen as a paralegal; my personal opinion of course; I totally envy the ones that literally rush out at 5pm on the dot & it’s totally fine;

Can definitely happen to a certain extent! My schedule is pretty flexible as long as I keep everyone informed. It was like that at my last firm as well. If you’re on the plaintiff side of PI maybe try defense. It’s my personal opinion that it’s easier to get off the hamster wheel on this side. You should not be getting backlash for not working past 5, generally. Of course be a team player when needed but it should not be a regular thing. There are a lot of great firms that respect their employees time, just have to find the right one. If any job listing mentions overtime I don’t apply. Sometimes they act like overtime is a perk because of the extra money and I stay away from those firms.

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If you aren’t willing to set hard boundaries, get a good therapist and learn to cry in the shower.

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