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Will Relaxing Make You a Better Attorney?

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

You may have noticed by now that we draw many of our legal life lessons from either song lyrics or "Mean Girls."

Do you really need anything else?

Today's lyrical wisdom comes compliments of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood hit, "Relax."

If you're looking for deeper meaning in "Relax," you'll probably find yourself more stressed. (Relax, don't do it. When you want to go to it. What does that mean? Or if you think you know, keep it to yourself.) The song is kind of meta in that way. But if you just relax and go with the flow, everything will be 80s-synth-pop-dandy.

It's helpful to take a similar approach in business, according to The New York Times. A Times opinion piece argues that relaxing can actually make you more productive:

A new and growing body of multidisciplinary research shows that strategic renewal -- including daytime workouts, short afternoon naps, longer sleep hours, more time away from the office and longer, more frequent vacations -- boosts productivity, job performance and, of course, health ... Spending more hours at work often leads to less time for sleep and insufficient sleep takes a substantial toll on performance. In a study of nearly 400 employees, published last year, researchers found that sleeping too little -- defined as less than six hours each night -- was one of the best predictors of on-the-job burn-out. A recent Harvard study estimated that sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity.

Yes, you could be a better attorney if you chilled every once in a while. Are you one of those attorneys who eats lunch at her desk (one-third of the work force does) or works during vacation (like half of Americans)?

Maybe it's time to scale back. Use your paid vacation. Take a coffee break. Exercise.

Give yourself a chance to recharge. The fresher you are, the better you can represent your clients. Nothing like stating the obvious. But if this is so obvious, why don't we do it?

Editor's Note, February 18, 2015: This post was first published in February 2013. It has since been updated.

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