Have you ever heard the saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?”
Well, the counter-argument could be made that to get new results, you need to build new habits. It has been said that you need 21 days of doing something to make it a habit – so if you start now, by the end of October, you’ll have some new habits built into your routine!
What do I mean by that?
Take a look at your current work routine – many countries have been back to working in the office for months now (if they ever left) and in the US, there has been a big push to return in the last four weeks. Are you back in the office full time or struggling to find a new (dare I say) normal?
Start taking the train to the office instead of driving, and use this time to read industry news, a leadership book, or listen to an industry podcast. If you’re still hesitant about public transportation (I GET it), consider whether you can carpool with a colleague and connect over networking – you don’t have to JUST talk about work because networking isn’t only work-related, but set a goal of checking in with each other once a week about your networking goals to keep each other accountable, and see how that goes.
Force yourself to take a coffee break each morning away from your desk (it doesn’t have to be away from the office). Read a blog post as you sip your coffee. This works just as well if you are working remotely as it does if you’re in the office – I seriously struggle to leave my desk once I’m there, which is why my chiropractor complains weekly about my tight shoulders and back.
Change scenery each afternoon for ten or fifteen minutes – maybe take a walk around the office, or around the block. Get some fresh air. Do something that will break the afternoon slump, so you’ll come back to your desk refreshed. It feels decadent, but we can actually get some of our best ideas when looking at something other than our screens.
Tell yourself you’re going to check LinkedIn first thing in the morning for five minutes, and engage with two or three people in some way each day. If you feel guilty doing this, make it part of your routine when you are waiting in line at the coffee shop while on your mobile device.
Find one new person on Twitter to have a conversation with each day. I know Twitter can be a tough place these days, but you may surprise yourself.
Start “wacky tie Tuesday” or “wild socks Friday” – yes, that sounds silly, but it will be a conversation starter, and you may even get to know people in your office you rarely talk to. They may even give you work someday. If you’re still working remotely, you can show this off through your camera (though admittedly, socks are a bit harder to show off – so maybe try a hat).
Make yourself take a younger partner to lunch every Friday. It can be the same younger partner, or a different one. Do it to remind yourself what it was like when you were starting out, and to be a mentor to someone. If you’re not in the office on Fridays, choose another day or agree to meet virtually for lunch or afternoon coffee breaks. If you ARE the younger lawyer, don’t hesitate to reach out to the more senior lawyers to connect – it is less awkward than you think to ask them to meet with you, I PROMISE!
Do an ice cream run – one of my favorite ILN attorneys (now passed away) always loved ice cream and would check around the office each afternoon in the summer to find out if anyone wanted some. He’d then do an ice cream run. It’s a great way to meet people you may not usually talk to, and to take a break. If you don’t have the time to do all of that, arrange for ice cream to be available in the conference room if the temperature rises above a certain point (a firm I presented at once does this). You can then chat for a few minutes in the conference room while getting your scoop! I know it’s a bit too chilly to do this right now, so pick something else fun – a cookie run or flavored coffee. For a virtual option, send $5 coffee gift cards to people you’d like to get to know better to join you for a “coffee” along with a zoom link – this can work particularly well when you’re not in the same city.
Some of these are clearly not everyday habits to start (21 days of ice cream sounds amazing, but maybe a little expensive). But there are a lot of options to choose from to build some new habits that can get some new results both in fresh ideas and fresh connections. Try these over the next three weeks and let me know what happens!