When I was still in practice, I sometimes needed to work on a Saturday morning to ensure that everything was done. The decision was often made early on Friday afternoon, when it became clear that I was not going to complete my planned work by the end of the day. I found that my productivity following that decision was then much less than if I had taken Saturday morning off.
This is my own personal illustration of Parkinson’s Law. This of course states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
A danger for lawyers and other business owners is that long hours become a habit, rather than a necessity. Clearly injunction proceedings in the morning, or the office burning down, will lead to longer hours. But how many could achieve in 9 hours what they take 10 hours to do – and purely because 10 hours is their regular work day?
Lack of productivity is not the only issue, since stress is also a factor. For example families may be disgruntled that you spend little time with them. That can lead to divorce, in itself one of the most stressful events there can be.
Surely it is not possible to run a successful firm without long hours? Donald Regan, when he was running Merrill Lynch, one of the big players on Wall Street, expected his staff to leave on time. If they did not, then there was something wrong with their workload, the way they handled it, or with their support. At the same time the firm was aggressively expanding.
Do you need to take a step back to look at your hours? Are you close to being overwhelmed? If so, contact us at email@example.com to find out how we can help.