Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Preventing Burnout

In the September issue of the Wisconsin Lawyer, Paula Davis-Laack identifies five reasons for burnout:

  • Workload (your workload is too much, too
    complex, or too urgent)
  • Control (your sense of control over what you do is often limited or undermined, and you don’t have much say over what is going on at work)
  • Reward (you feel taken for granted, not recognized, and undercompensated)
  • Community (you deal with patronizing partnersand colleagues, there is no mechanism for conflict resolution, and feedback is nonexistent)
  • Fairness (you or others are treated unfairly,there is a culture of favoritism, and task assignments and promotions are arbitrary and discussed behind closed doors); and
  • Values (you experience a disconnect between your core values and the organization’s core values).

Here are her five suggestions for preventing burnout (abridged):

1) Increase your self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is having the belief in your own ability to accomplish (and exercise control over) personally meaningful goals and tasks.

2) Have creative outlets. Burnout interferes with your ability to perform well, increases rigid thinking, and decreases your ability to think accurately, flexibly, and creatively. Even if you aren’t able to flex your creative muscles at work, having some type of creative outlet will keep you engaged and motivated.

3) Take care of yourself.

4) Get support where you can find it. It takes time and effort to maintain social connections, but supportive people are the best inoculation against burnout.

5) Identify your values. We all have values that we espouse, but the daily grind of practice may cause you to forget what they are, or you might discover that the culture of the legal profession doesn’t really support your values.

The article contains bibliographic endnotes and some helpful worksheets.


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