Paternity leave ain’t what it used to be

Regular readers of our blog will notice something odd here.  This post is late.  We aim to publish each Thursday morning for your reading pleasure, but this week is different because I have a new baby at home.  Wearing the different hats of lawyer, entrepreneur, husband, father and nurse to a recovering mother is challenging. The modern world has afforded us some great tools to stay in the game without going completely AWOL for a few weeks. Although email and cell phones make life a little easier, the way you drive your process at the office will dictate your ability to do work on the go. So here are a few lessons I learned the hard way:

  1. Running a paperless office means truly running a paperless office.  Scan every piece of paper or mail when it hits the door and stamp it Scanned.  Create an inbox folder in Dropbox to triage everything from the scanner and follow a process.  Everything should be archived, scheduled or acted upon the first time you see it in the inbox.  (You should do this for email too btw)
  2. Set a home office schedule.  I didn’t figure out until the last few days that it makes sense to block time at home just like the office.  You can always run to the rescue if things break bad, but plan ahead to cloister yourself when you have moments in the day to yourself.
  3. Prioritize three tasks.  A good day on FMLA seems to be completing one important task each day.  Accomplishing all three will make you a hero.  Sit down each night and plan the top three things that must get done the next day.  Everything else can wait.
  4. Treasure the time with your family.  You won’t ever get this time back, and there will always be another case to file or deal to close.  But when its all said and done, no one will ever say at your funeral that they wished you had spent more time at the office.

The recurring theme here is that you should run the home office just like your downtown office.  Process, plan, act and review each day.  My law school classmate and intrepid trial lawyer, Jeb Butler, described it this way in a post of his dining room table stacked with materials: “When you’re home on paternity leave but it’s your own firm and s*** has to get done”

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