Shutting Down: How to Disconnect Your Mind from Your Legal Work
By, Hilary Neiman
Many seasoned legal veterans will tell you that it is crucial to your long-term success to be able to disconnect from the work at the end of the day. If you carry the work around with you, especially in your head, it can be difficult to feel as though you get any break from it.
Unless you’re a trial lawyer and your client is facing the death penalty, there’s really no reason why you have to be thinking about work constantly, even when you’re home spending time with your family.
Some people are wired that way, though, and they find it more than challenging to disconnect their thoughts from work. They may be physically elsewhere, and they may be engaged with kids, a spouse, or even friends while hanging out, but the wheels are still turning with their work.
It’s important to be able to shut it down, to cut off the thought process, and clear the mind. In the movie For the Love of the Game, Kevin Costner’s aging baseball star’s mantra whenever he went into the set (as a pitcher) was ‘Clear the mechanism.’
So let’s learn how to ‘clear the mechanism.’
Find a quiet place.
Nothing is more distracting to the brain than noise. If you have children or live in a house that is constantly under a noise assault, find a place where you can go to get some quiet time. The library may be a good option, though far too many of them today are getting louder, too.
Churches are often quiet places and it doesn’t matter whether you have faith or not, you can still get peace and quiet in most of them.
Close your eyes.
Make sure that you shut off or leave all electronic devices behind. Close your eyes. Welcome the darkness.
Now you’re probably going through a million thoughts. Picture those thoughts as concrete structures. They could be boxes or books, file folders or even stones. Whatever you prefer, picture them as solid objects.
Push them ‘off screen’.
In your head it’s like a movie screen. You have a limit to the top, bottom, and sides. Take each ‘object’ and imagine that you’re pushing it off to the side. Once it’s out of view, it’s out of your thoughts.
You’ll discover that they come back very quickly, in the beginning.
Keep working to clear the floor space until all you see is blackness. Don’t get frustrated when you can’t accomplish this at first. It will take time and practice.
Once you do, though, you’ll be able to focus on the emptiness, the blackness that surrounds you. With silence and no thoughts, you will soon realize that your body calms down. When you re-enter your world, the thoughts will become clearer and the more you do this, the more readily you’ll be able to disconnect from things that are overwhelming your mind.
It’s a great feeling when you’re able to achieve this.