Making work (more) fun
Lawyers work a lot. In 2019, the ACC Australia In-house Counsel Trends Report found that 20 percent of in-house counsel worked between 51 hours and 60 hours, and 40 percent worked between 41 hours and 50 hours per week, whereas seven percent worked over 60 hours each week.
Given we spend so much time at work, perhaps we could dedicate some of that time to fun!
Corporate and legal jargon fills the contracts we read and the emails we write. Jargon can confuse readers and frustrate clients. If jargon is a killjoy in your team, think about creating a Buzzword Bingo.
A fun meeting might sound like an oxymoron but ensuring that meetings are efficient and effective with a dash of fun can leave team members feeling refreshed instead of drained:
- Purpose + Agenda: A purposeful meeting is always more enjoyable. Even for a short meeting, it only takes a moment to set out the purpose and a few dot point agenda items, but this can help people prepare, so the meeting will progress better.
- Deliberately start late: Deliberately set meeting times five or 10 minutes past the hour to give people a chance to refresh between meetings instead of rushing.
- Themes: With the ability to change backdrops or add headgear, themes can add an element of fun to more informal team meetings.
- Put fun on the agenda: Leave a spot on the agenda for a playful activity of some kind, this could be a dedicated joke space, an amusing discussion topic, a cat video, etc, something that the entire team can enjoy and contribute to.
Explore the law
There are so many exciting areas of the law emerging and old areas of law that need dusting off and re-examining. Legal operations, client experience, and legal design are all fascinating areas to investigate. Often, we get caught up in executing our work, and we forget we used to read and learn about things because we wanted to.
Are you drawn to particular areas of law or legal practice? Perhaps you have always wanted to learn more about a particular area of law or would like to look into evolving spaces such as automation or contract design. Explore the law without a specific end purpose in mind. Read and learn or attend an ACC event on an area of law that calls to you.
- Put a recurring task in your to do list with a quote or joke that makes you smile
- Start a monthly activity with work colleagues — sports, reading, wine tasting; there are lots of options depending on what your fun is, and it can involve just two people to begin with
- Try to reduce the amount of time you have to spend with “unfun” people and increase the time you spend with playful, fun people
- Refresh your feed! If you have professional or work-based social media, like Yammer or LinkedIn, mix up your feed by seeking out fun, playful accounts (e.g., Legal Cheek, Very Legal Problems, or whatever fun things you want to focus on this year)
If someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, we didn’t say ‘I want to be busy’.
DARA SIMKIN, PLAY SPECIALIST IN WORKPLACE PLAYFULNESS
How to plan for year-round fun
If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail to have fun!
I’ve made the planning easy for you with the 2021 Year of Fun Planner.
Step one: Why is fun important to you?
Think about the benefits of play and laughter. Consider some of the previous stresses you’d like to avoid this year. Write down a few reasons why fun is important to you.
Example: Work gets serious so I need to take a break to lighten my mood. To enjoy time with my family.
Step two: Secret recipe for fun success
As I mentioned earlier, you have your own special combination of activities that creates fun for you. It might change over time, but it is up to you to know what you enjoy and to try new things if you aren’t sure. Look over the different categories and think of things you like doing in each category. Then list how often you’d like to do that activity. Once you have your special combination of activities that make up a fun year, month, week, day, add them to your to do list and make specific time for them on your calendar.
Example: Dance cardio (once a week), Contract design (once per week), Massage (once a month), Work drinks catch up (once a month), Beach holiday (once a year)
Step three: Explore the law
All of us have Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points or Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits we need to get. Why not spend your CPD points exploring a new area of the law? Write down the areas you have always been interested in, but that might not be your current practice area or even an area you will ever work in. There could be lots of fun waiting for you to explore the law and your career from a different perspective.
Example: Learn about current approaches to Intellectual Property around collaboration
Step four: Fun at work
How can you make work more enjoyable for yourself? For your colleagues? For your clients? What aspects of your work are painful or “unfun” at the moment? How could you tweak them to make them more enjoyable (or stop doing them altogether)? Write down your ideas for making work fun.
Example: I will start a monthly themed catch up with my female work colleagues.
Step five: Lights, camera, action it!
Huzzah, you have a list of fun ideas to fill 2021 with mood-boosting endorphins and create better relationships at home and work. So, how will you action your new list of fun ingredients? Do you need to research different exercise classes or register for upcoming ACC events? Add that very next action item to your to do list.
Example: Ask Melanie if she wants to present on contract design with me; Put the time in your calendar to reach out to work colleagues past and present
Share the fun!
One of my fun activities is making and testing (and testing!) different cocktails. So, here is a virtual ‘cheers’ to you and the year of fun you will have, as well as the many benefits that playfulness and enjoyment will bring the rest of your colleagues, family, and friends! I can’t wait to hear the fun you will have this year and share your ideas for a 2021 filled with fun.
Let me know about your #2021yearoffun!
Legal Counsel and Automation Coach
Join Verity White and the LTIC team who is committed to provide you with the resources you need to prepare for legal technology’s disruption in the in-house legal industry!
Sources and further reading on the importance of playfulness:
Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being
Specialists on Play keynote speeches
The well-being of playful adults: Adult playfulness, subjective well-being, physical well-being, and the pursuit of enjoyable activities