Vacation state of mind

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy” is the first line of a famous Gershwin song from the opera, Porgy and Bess. The words conjure up visions of warm, sunny days of relaxation and fun. For many of us, June, July and August are the key months we use to recharge, spend time with family and friends, or explore new landscapes, countries and hobbies.

I posit that the need for regular breaks from our busy professional lives is self-evident, but for those of you who need convincing, there are numerous articles online that will back up this contention. No matter how smart, dedicated or crucial we are to our clients, all of us need a chance to decompress and stretch ourselves by consciously jumping out of our daily routines.

Gary Ross’s blog post suggests that lawyers’ clients want them to take vacations so they’re rested and focused when they come back to tackle their legal matters post-break. He also offers up other benefits to being away from the office such as the chance to reflect, to brainstorm new ideas or to meet new people who may help either rejuvenate or rehabilitate your work or personal life.

Once a decision is made to take that break, how can you make sure to maximize its benefits? In an ideal world, each of us would disconnect completely, leave the rigours of our jobs fully behind. A recent article in The Globe and Mail written by Greg Wells addresses this issue, suggesting that the fear of being disconnected prevents many people from truly enjoying their time away from the office. The author describes an intriguing example of how an SVP at a Canadian bank succeeded in putting together a formalized structure that allowed her to detach from work completely. It required the SVP to be transparent with everyone that she would not be available or monitoring her email and then to trust that her team would be able to handle any situations that arose while she was absent. Thankfully, it was successful.

Would something similar work for you? Can a lawyer working in-house or in private practice or in a non-traditional role just disappear for a while and let other trusted colleagues do the work while they’re away? Maybe. There’d be much to think about I’m sure before you took this step. Or could you try to incorporate a bit of the SVP’s framework to partially accomplish what she did? I wonder if there’s a way to think strategically about how you can do something a bit different this summer to manage your time away to the best of your ability, so you get the most benefit from your hard-earned break and come back refreshed and looking forward to getting back to the routine of your day-to-day life.

I challenge you.

Happy summer!


Steven Cline, Osler’s coach-in-residence

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