Legal Law

Cease Working All Of The Time!

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This week, I attended a conference where Ariana Huffington was the keynote speaker. She spoke at length about the importance of sleep and rest. Huffington shared her story of blacking out and experiencing a severe cheek injury resulting in reconstructive surgery. What happened, you ask? Huffington formerly ran HuffPost where she experienced very high-stress levels, struggled with exhaustion, and tried to balance motherhood while building her career and empire. She knew she needed a break but was unwilling to take one — until she got that fateful wake-up call that changed her entire way of living and working. Huffington’s injury stopped her from working in an unsustainable way and forced her to put strict boundaries around her work. Huffington asked the attendees whether we had a stop time for our workday, which got me thinking.

I don’t have a stop time for my workday. I have shared the concept of time blocking and boundaries in my work, but I realize that many a day, my mind keeps going because I don’t “clock out.” Sometimes I lie awake in bed, and I cannot sleep until I send an email that has to get out of my system. That is work.

I tried to figure out exactly when my workday should end, and my first thought was the fear that I couldn’t have a consistent time every day because my circumstances may change. In my situation, they won’t because estate planning is very project-based, and I can set parameters around my work and when it ends. I think every practice area can set an end to the workday.

Having a ritual is the best way to train your body to wind down when it comes to sleep. An example of a sleep ritual is putting your phone away to charge in a different room, brewing a cup of tea, taking a lavender bath, using an essential oil diffuser, reading from a book for 30 minutes, and bedtime prayers. We can handle the end of our workday in the same systematic way. I am currently coming up with a ritual for ending my workday, and here’s what I have so far:

Review Your Next Work Day

Knowing what you have planned for tomorrow is one way to manage the anxiety and stress that work brings. If your days are too full, start to ease up on what you allow on your calendar.

Create A List of To-Dos

Limit your list to two. There will always be more and more that you can accomplish, but don’t. Even if you accomplish more, consider that icing on the cake and not the norm. Yes, I am advocating for lowering your expectations.

Turn Off Your Computer

This is a biggie. Shut down your desktop and physically close your laptop. Do not let it follow you around your house. You’ll see that device on your next workday.

Clean Up Your Workspace

If you have a child, sing the “clean up” song when you tidy up. A clean workstation or office aids in clarity for your next workday. Clutter and disorganization (even though you know where everything is) can lead to stress in your work.

Reflect On The Day 

Get a journal or one of those one-page sheets with your daily list. Some journals feature sections for sharing your wins. Learn to celebrate! Look at all you are managing. Take stock because what you are doing should matter to you. (If not, that is another conversation and article.)

Leave Your Workspace

Say goodnight to your workspace. Turn off the lights and leave. If you have a door, close it. If you work in a small space in your home, cordon it off or place some sign indicating it’s closed for business.

Don’t these steps sound so doable? It’s something you can start today.

Over the last year, I’ve reflected on the importance of living a purpose-filled life; I sometimes forget purpose when dealing with the never-ending hamster wheel of small firm ownership. I’ve run on the hamster wheel of success, often to the detriment of my physical and mental health and sleep. Unbridled ambition is one hell of a drug.

I am still in the process of unlearning terrible habits, but I know that I must take a little time for myself to enjoy what I want to enjoy, including but not limited to:

  • listening to my latest audiobook or podcast;
  • calling a friend that I’ve missed;
  • participating in a local knitting circle;
  • and, my favorite, taking a nap.

How are you doing? Are you struggling through the daily motions and scheduling yourself to the max? Are you tired of the endless work hustle? It’s time to ease up and stop. Create your end of the workday ritual to enforce boundaries that work for your life.


Iffy Ibekwe is the principal attorney and founder of Ibekwe Law, PLLC. She is an estate planning attorney evangelist for intergenerational wealth transfer with effective wills and trusts. Iffy is writing her first book on culturally competent estate planning, available in 2022 (prayers up!). She graduated from The University of Texas School of Law and has practiced law for over 14 years. Iffy can be reached by email at iffywrites@ibekwelaw.com, on her website, and on Instagram @thejustincaselawyer.

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