Inside Perspective: Shaking the post-holiday blues

Dan Harper is vice president, corporate counsel and secretary for Océ North America, Inc., a Canon Group Co.  He is also immediate past president of the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel. The views expressed herein are the opinions of the author and do not reflect the position or viewpoint of Océ North America Inc., Canon Inc. or any of the Océ or Canon companies.

That first week back to work after the holidays is a killer.  There may be projects that you left before Christmas still sitting on your desk – uninteresting, routine, boring, low priority yet necessary and, most importantly, unfinished.  These projects require another effort at ramping up to re-familiarize yourself with the project and the specifics of what needs to be done.  There is a bit of a lull in business yet the clients still expect much from you – and you must deliver.  A general pall seems to be cast upon the earth for which no relief is anticipated for another three months.  How do we get out of the post-holiday blues and get back into the swing of things?

First and foremost, remember that your clients continue to expect the very best from their lawyer.  Knowing that someone is relying on you for mission critical advice can do much to help lift the motivational shroud you may be experiencing.  Aside from the statutory ethical obligations lawyers have, we are morally obligated to always be ready to be at our best for our clients.  So, in a sense, we are not allowed to be down in the mouth.

When one feels a sense of accomplishment, spirits are often lifted.  So, create a timeline for those unfinished projects and start working on them.  Block time out to get them done and do it.  You’ll rid yourself of that nagging voice in the back of your mind that constantly brings you down.

In the same vein, take a look at all the stacked up paper in your office.  The mess certainly cannot create in your clients a sense of confidence in your organizational abilities, nor can one have a sense of pride about one’s workspace when it looks more like a trash heap than a professional’s office.  While you are at it, clean up your computer files.  After finally abandoning the use of paper “form files” that many of us have kept since we started practicing, I started keeping all of my research and document templates on my computer.  If your computer is anything like mine, it is full of outdated “stuff” that has been collected over the years.  I keep amassing more and more data.  Today, much of the information we used to keep in our “form files” is available on-line, often for free.  I know I will never abandon my collection but I also know it can be pared down quite a bit.

Be thankful.  Be thankful that you have the problems I have described above – it means you are gainfully employed.  And if you are not employed at the moment, be thankful that by all measures things are looking up.  Take the opportunity of a new year to renew your efforts at connecting with people and managing your search more actively and meaningfully.  And remember, things will get better – they always do.

If none of these efforts help lift your spirits, you’re not without hope.  Reach out to a lawyer friend in need and help them through a hard time they may be having.  Nothing lifts one’s spirits more than helping others.  Finally – remember that Spring is less than three months away and we will soon be enjoying all the wonderful treats Mother Nature has to offer.


2 responses to “Inside Perspective: Shaking the post-holiday blues

  1. Dan – sounds like you wrote this especially for me. Have you been in my office lately to see the files & paper?
    You describe a January ritual/goal. Now I just have to do it, and then attack the plastic bins of old legal docs and seminar binders in my closet at home.
    You know a good shredding service that makes house calls for large jobs?

  2. Good perspective on starting the New Year with a new and improved way to keep the proverbial ball rolling and being a good attorney who is responsive and invaluable to the client. Very uplifting!

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