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Remote Working During COVID-19: Improve Your Mindset

Stacked3Here is a recent Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Remote Working During COVID-19:  Improve Your Mindset

Working remotely in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic isn’t easy. In fact, it can be incredibly stressful, in part because there are a lot of things about that current situation that are simply beyond our control. The good news is that there are some things we can control, such as our mindset and our immediate environment. The key is to identify what can realistically be changed that will have a positive impact on your state of mind.

Let’s start with your environment. One step you can take that can help reduce stress is to ensure that your remote workspace is as welcoming and comfortable as possible. To that end, consider adding some greenery, since plants add color and give off oxygen, helping to improve your air quality. 

Also, make your remote work area more livable by ensuring that you have lots of access to natural light. And try to keep it as clutter-free as possible. After all, less mess leads to less stress.

Another way to reduce your stress levels is to consider allowing your pet, if you have one, to spend time with you while you work. Having your pets around you creates a more relaxed atmosphere and offers a welcome distraction from the day-to-day stress of work-related deadlines and the never-ending news cycle.

Likewise, don’t overlook the benefits that an ergonomic work environment can have on both your mental and physical well being. Incorporate ergonomic work processes and office equipment into your day-to-day activities in order to ensure that you experience as little repetitive physical stress and pain as possible.

Also important is to make it a priority to give yourself a timeout. Schedule time for mental breaks. Stand up, walk around a bit, and maybe even go outside. Take time during the workday to relax and think about something other than the COVID-19 crisis or the practice of law.

Last, but not least, don’t forget to look inward as well. Take time at the beginning of each day when you sit down at your desk to reflect on the good things going on in your life and in your practice. It’s a good habit to get into during the pandemic, and it’s something that you continue to do when life returns to some semblance of normalcy.

Another way to focus on wellness is to consider learning about and incorporating meditation into your daily routine.

Read a book or two on mindfulness and make sure to take advantage of the resources and networking and support groups offered by your state and local bar associations.

For example, one book worth checking out is “The Anxious Lawyer,” an ABA-published book written by attorneys Jeena Cho and Karen Gifford. This book offers an 8-week guide in which mindfulness is used as a tool to help you achieve a more satisfying and balanced law practice. You can also access guided meditations based on the teachings of the book here: http://theanxiouslawyer.com/category/guided-meditations/.



Another great mindfulness resource is available compliments of the New York State Bar Association. It’s a website created in collaboration with the NYSBA for lawyers experiencing COVID-19-related stress called “A NY State of Mind” (online: https://www.headspace.com/ny). On it you’ll find free guided meditations, along with links to other useful mindfulness and wellness resources. 



Finally, the Monroe County Bar Association hosts a weekly virtual wellness chat for lawyers every Monday at 3 pm. This event is always well-attended and provides lots of great support for Rochester lawyers as they navigate these unprecedented and uncertain times.



Take my word for it: gratitude and mindfulness can make all the difference in your mindset. We’re all experiencing stress and uncertainty about the pandemic and the future. While we can’t control the future, we can control how we feel in the present. So do what you can to control your present mindset by taking advantage of some of these tips and resources, and get on the path to a healthier, happier you.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase  law practice management software for small law firms. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at niki.black@mycase.com.