Lawyers are more productive when they bring their whole selves to work. Host Rocky Dhir welcomes Nik Sallie Franklin to discuss her talk from the State Bar of Texas’ Annual Meeting On Demand focused on helping lawyers prioritize their mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. Nik opens up about how holistic practices can help lawyers regain confidence and practice law with excellence.
State Bar of Texas
2020 Annual Meeting On Demand Holistic Hustle 3 Practices to Help Attorneys Thrive at Work
Intro: Welcome to the State Bar of Texas Podcast, your monthly source for conversations and curated content to improve your law practice, with your host Rocky Dhir.
Rocky Dhir: Hi and welcome to the State Bar of Texas Podcast. COVID-19 has pulled us away from large gatherings, travels plans, conferences and for a time even grocery stores and gyms. Many of us still haven’t dined in a restaurant for several months. Another casualty of COVID-19 was our ability as Texas attorneys to attend the State Bar of Texas annual meeting which was scheduled for June 25 to 26, 2020 in Dallas, my hometown. But our state bar doesn’t do things in half measures. Our staff could’ve sat back and enjoy some downtime, they didn’t. They didn’t. They brought the annual meeting to us in the first ever annual meeting on demand, which took place on June 25 to 26 as scheduled, I’ll be it virtually. If you couldn’t make the meeting then we are here on the podcast to give you some highlights. By the way if you don’t want to miss an annual meeting again, the next one is June 17 to 18, 2021 in Fort Worth, spoiler alert. Fort Worth folks they know how to party just saying. Now as we speak we’re in the midst of a rethink, how we work how we interact and, how we practice law in the era of Corona if you’ll forgive me. Nick Sally Franklin has lent her voice to that charge. She’s a trademark attorney in Austin Texas but with a twist, she helps six-figure women entrepreneurs build and protect their businesses but she also coaches them so they can protect their bodies, minds and spirits as well. That keeps Nick pretty busy as you could imagine but there’s more. She’s also an account manager at Facebook helping Fortune 500 companies with their marketing strategies so she knows a thing or two about staying busy. At the annual meeting on demand Nick presented her talk, the title, Holistic Hustle three
Practices to Help Attorneys Thrive at Work and at Home. She offered tips on how to become more productive by being nicer to ourselves and asserting power over our schedules and mindsets. Nick has joined us today to tell us a bit more about all of that so Nick welcome to the podcast.
Nick Sally Franklin: Hey there thanks so much for having me.
Rocky Dhir: Absolutely, well you know your annual meeting on demand session was fantastic, I had the great fortune of being able to listen and watch you and enjoyed every minute of it. How did you come up with the concept on, I’m kind of curious from an innovation perspective, tying together legal advice and wellness, I mean that — the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand so what made you think of that?
Nick Sally Franklin: Yeah I think that that is the point, they don’t usually go hand in hand and they should you know a lot of times we do see that attorneys are really are the ones that have the most stressful jobs you know the stress at all different angles here and so because we are charged with handling matters for our clients and being you know fit to handle those clients matters, we really do need to prioritize self-care whether that’s mental, physical, spiritual, all those things in order to make sure that we’re at our best for our clients so it has to be done.
Rocky Dhir: I’m going to jump right into it, I mean you effectively described three practices for enhancing wellness, effectiveness and most interesting to me was productivity. So let’s talk about these. So the first one you called it “playing favorites”. Now tell me if I got this right, it’s you surround your workspace with your favorite things and you engage all five senses when doing so.
Nick Sally Franklin: That’s absolutely right, absolutely right.
Rocky Dhir: So the example you gave was, you like peonies, so you make sure that there’s peony flowers or at least silk ones so that that way you’re not having to worry about watering them or were they real, are they real peonies?
Nick Sally Franklin: You know I’m a bit of a rebel I like both the silk and the live plants every now and then.
Rocky Dhir: Oh dang! Oh you’re throwing it down.
Nick Sally Franklin: Let’s back up really quickly I think it’s important to just set the stage by saying that what we’re really trying to do here is when you’re able to bring your whole self to work, the idea is that you’re able to be more productive because you’re not compartmentalizing you, you’re able to use that energy to do your best work so that you’re not having a mask on at work where you’re like I have to be super professional and super you know, one way at the office and then different at home and so once you’re able to integrate yourself and be whole then you have a lot of more productivity so that plays into playing favorites which means who are you authentically as a whole person, surround yourself with the things that you love, so that you have you know the creature comforts around you, you have the proper setup of things, it’s basically making sure that your workspace, which would be considered stressful, actually is enjoyable.
Rocky Dhir: Well it’s interesting though because in your talk you actually had some pretty well-defined aesthetics and preferences I mean I remember you mentioned acrylic and you said “I love acrylic” and so I keep myself organized by having acrylic boxes but I’ll be honest with you I don’t really know what my aesthetic is I’m a middle-aged dude with no idea of what my favorite things are, who my favorite artist is, you know so I’m going to ask this just for a friend but what happens if your favorite thing is candy crush I mean you know how do you surround yourself and sort of play favorites, if you don’t really know what your favorites are in terms of workplace décor?
Nick Sally Franklin: So I would say, if you don’t know what your favorites are in terms of workplace decor that is an opportunity for you to integrate your home space in into this as well and you know especially now with a lot of us working from home it’s a lot easier to do that beforehand. I basically doubled up on certain things, so for example I’m very spiritual, I have my own spiritual practice I talk a lot about that, I collect crystals, they have different meanings and things like that, so I would buy crystals for my desk at Facebook and then I would buy the same crystals for my home office, my desk at home. So if you don’t know what your office décor, your work decor is look at what you’re already doing at home, are you decorating your home in a way that’s minimalist and a little bit more serious? Are you decorating your home in a more contemporary style? Do you enjoy more of the Zen aesthetic where you have a lot of bamboo plants and greenery and natural elements like stone and wood at home? Those types of things will lend themselves nicely to little desk décor objects such as a pencil holder, stapler and those types of things, that you can then use to be visually stimulating to you during the day. So it’s really about keeping yourself entertained, stimulated and ensuring that you’re enjoying the space that you’re in. I love candles and things like that and incense, so I keep those things around as well.
So I’m engaging all five senses to make sure that I’m comfortable and therefore productive while I’m working.
Rocky Dhir: I joke because really I don’t have a real sense of what my aesthetic is and when you talk about all this I’m sort of like all right, what is it that I would surround myself with? I mean if I bring the stuff that’s in my living space it’d be Twix wrappers all over my desk but you know I’m trying to think about you know all the joking aside you know I’ve now that I think about it and now that we’re talking about it you know for me I noticed that when my workspace is clean and free of clutter, I feel better but yet it’s always full of clutter because I don’t know where to put stuff, I’m like okay I’ll deal with this later and then it piles up and then one day I look and I’m like oh geez and then just bothers me and then it’s bothering me for weeks until I finally just find a moment to stop and de-clutter my desk so.
Nick Sally Franklin: Right.
Rocky Dhir: You know I’m kind of — that’s one of the things I’ve taken out of it, is that kind of an example of how to bring that holistic side to your workspace?
Nick Sally Franklin: It is one of the examples because it’s about knowing yourself. You know that you are more productive when your desk area is clean, it’s probably something around your energy to be quite honest because the desk is chaotic you feel chaotic energy around you and therefore your productivity is probably negatively impacted so when you finally get to a point where it’s just too much and you’re able to clean it up you’ve now been able to get one more thing off your list, it’s something else you’ve been able to cross off that mental to-do list and now that clean slate has been performed physically by you cleaning your desk but now from a psychological standpoint you’ve been able to clear your mind so that you can get ready to actually work.
Rocky Dhir: I don’t want us to get so engrossed in this which is fascinating to me but I also want to talk about the 5010 Rule.
Nick Sally Franklin: Yeah.
Rocky Dhir: So that was your second tip and you know if I’m understanding correctly it’s effectively you’re saying set a timer where you’re going to work for a specific amount of time and then you’re going to take breaks and you’re saying 50 minutes followed by a 10-minute break or 5 minutes of work followed by 15 minutes of a break, the point being you’ve got to set aside scheduled time for breaks. Now to some of us we might think we know why it’s obvious but why do you think that we need to do that?
Nick Sally Franklin: I have often found myself looking at the clock and thinking I’ve got these five things that I need to get done today and then five hours later I’m still sitting in the same chair, in the same spot I may have not eaten lunch yet and my legs are falling asleep because I’ve not moved around. So it is just not a great situation to be in so by being more intentional about how I’m spending my time, not only working but taking a break from work is a way to not only treat yourself but teach your brain that it’s okay to get up and move around that part of working actually includes resting and I think that that’s something that most people don’t really think about is those two items are not mutually exclusive, you do need to take a break and you do need to rest at some point in order to continue to be your best throughout the day.
Rocky Dhir: Let me give you a what if, all right so and I think you mentioned this as an illustration in your talk. You’re writing a legal brief or you’re doing research on something and I write a lot of legal briefs and what I notice is when I’m sitting there writing I’ll hit a stride and so then I’m going two, three, four, five hours straight sometimes where I’m just I’m in a zone and I’m afraid to get up and I’m afraid to stop because I’ll lose that momentum and then I’ll sit back down I’ll think okay where was I what was that word I had all these what I think are brilliant thoughts in my head and they’re going to be gone if I get up and take a 10-minute break. So are we allowed to cheat in those situations, when you’re in the zone or do we have to be disciplined and still enter in the time for breaks?
Nick Sally Franklin: Yeah I think that’s a great question, and a great call out look we’re all, whole grown humans here so we can do what we want.
Rocky Dhir: Speak for yourself.
Nick Sally Franklin: But I would say that I’ve experienced that as well because I do a lot of creative writing too and you want to stay in that zone to keep that free flow of energy and ideas coming but what I’ve learned is that if something comes to me I’m just going to jot it down very quickly and then I’m still going to take my break because you know what once I sit back down those ideas can come back, the interrupted flow is just that it’s a very temporary interruption and I now know because I also have a spiritual practice of journaling very regularly that those ideas if something comes to me in the middle of night, I’ll write it down in a journal and go back to sleep or you know what if I don’t want to write it down, I am taking the chance that it’s going to come back to me but I have faith and hope that it will and it usually does. So I think that those breaks actually do give you a chance to reset and then allow you to come back refreshed and then the energy starts to flow again and those ideas that you’re so afraid of that are going to go away into the either will come back to you.
Rocky Dhir: Well it would it be okay let’s say, you’re going to work for three hours straight because you’re just like I’m in the zone but then you do it and you reach a break point then you say all right now I’m going to take a one hour break not 10 minutes not 15, I’m just going to take a big chunk of breaks since I’ve since I’ve put in a big chunk of time does that still work or does it need to be smaller chunks like you’ve described?
Nick Sally Franklin: Yeah I think that still works, this is not about the length of time that you work versus the length of time you take a break, it’s about being intentional about being balanced while you’re working, that’s where it is, it’s about being intentional so that you’re not mindlessly working and look up and then you’ve neglected something else that your body or your mind needs. The food, the bio break, the you know maybe this is the time to scroll through your favorite website or Pinterest or whatever it might be just to give yourself a break, a creative break or to listen to an audiobook for a moment or more importantly maybe it’s time to spend time with the kids you know and help them with their homework or something like that or help cook dinner it’s about being intentional about when you work and when you’re not working.
Rocky Dhir: I think this this kind of leads into the third point you made right. So we’ve got playing favorites, we’ve got the 5010 Rule as you called it but really it’s about scheduling breaks but then the final bit of advice you give is compartmentalizing. Sort of compartmentalizing your thoughts in your life and I think most people who hear that would kind of, when I first saw the outline of your talk I thought I know what she’s going to say about compartmentalizing and it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be I thought it was going to be, well you leave work at and you don’t bring it home and it — but I think it’s more than that from what I understood and tell me if I’m wrong, it’s if there’s a stressor in your work life or your personal life you try to keep that away and try to focus on the blessings of the present if you will, try to focus on the joys of the present and not focus on what just happened and what does this mean for the future, is that a fair summary or am I missing a nuance in there?
Nick Sally Franklin: That’s a fair summary I think where people have called out different things is when I first start out and I’m saying play favorites and bring your whole self to work, then when you say compartmentalize it sounds like it might be contradictory and it’s not what I’m really talking about is, what yours, what you’re hinting at which is if there’s something that is a stressor at work, learning how to compartmentalize and keep that stressor at work by remaining in the present moment so that you’re not allowing that stressor to balloon out of control and then affect the rest of your day or the other parts of your life for example, if you have had a really difficult client or a difficult matter that’s come up, okay we will handle that at work, we will leave that at work and once we’re with our family at home having dinner we will not talk about work, we will not think about that thing because your brain actually doesn’t know the difference between when you’re actually at work and where you’re just thinking about it. You will still have the same neurological stimuli and processes that happen, so if you start thinking about a difficult deposition that happened, you’re going to start stressing, your heart’s going to elevate right in that moment as though you were back in that deposition even though you’re at your kitchen table and so you want to be able to control that.
Rocky Dhir: A question I had when you were talking about this in the online session was you know, we always hear that it’s good to release the stresses you know so you talk to somebody about it you say you know that client they did this and you know I just I wanted to punch him in the nose or that opposing counsel did this and I would like nothing more than to slap him across the face or whatever you know you want to let those emotions out. If you’re not talking about it at home or if you’re not talking about it at dinner with colleagues I think was the example you gave in the talk then when do you let that out and how do you let that out?
Nick Sally Franklin: Oh yeah that’s a great question because there are various ways to do that you know, if we were going to talk about it at work or we had a trusted colleague that we could confide in that’s one way but when we don’t then the other ways lend themselves very nicely to that release which is journaling you can absolutely journal about the day what happened, you give yourself 10 minutes to be upset and to write about it and once you journal about it you actually have options you can either leave it in the journal or you can tear the page out and burn it and the act of burning it is a ritual and a symbolic action that says this is now released, this is gone from a physical form to now it’s in the air and it’s something that I don’t have to allow to affect me, I’ve gotten out my system, I’ve physically written it down I’m now releasing it and that’s that. So that’s the practice, that’s a spiritual practice that can be done, if you’re speaking to your spouse about it it’s okay but you know you might want to reserve those types of conversations with your spouse to be about something more positive instead of something because maybe they will start to stress out with you with the sympathy pains of that but definitely journaling is one way to do that, some people do like to meditate, if they could sit for 5, 10 or 15 minutes and simply quiet their mind that’s a stress reliever because for me at least I consider that to be divine defiance where I’m saying I don’t care what’s going on in the world I’m taking this time for me, I’m taking this moment to be silent, I’m not allowing the phone or the emails to interrupt me, I am taking my power back and spending these five moments in silence to just allow my mind to be quiet and rest. So those are some things that people can do.
Rocky Dhir: Very interesting, one final question and that was, you know this concept of bringing your whole self to work you know, so it sounds like it sounds like we’re not creating as much of a barrier between who we are at work and who we are at home we’re trying to be who we are all day long, right and it’s effectively the same person. Is that a concept that is born out of the pandemic or was this something you were already talking and advocating about before COVID-19?
Nick Sally Franklin: This was definitely before COVID-19 I have been in marketing for almost 18 years when I started with EMI music and that got me interested in entertainment law and then 10 years in practice and then almost 10 years at Facebook and Tech. It’s really the time that I spent in Tech that the idea became prominent of bringing your whole self to work. The happier employees are more productive employees, the more productive employees the better outcome you have as far as revenue and other things for the business’s bottom line. So being holistic in that standpoint and not having to hide parts of your personality really became important and that’s why when I decided to run my law firm I have spirituality at the forefront because that’s part of who I am.
Rocky Dhir: Very interesting you know I’ve got so many more questions, there’s so much more wisdom I want to I want to squeeze out of this but I wish we could talk more but as you know this is unfortunately all the time we have for the moment, Nick Sally Franklin thank you for joining us.
Nick Sally Franklin: Thank you for having me.
Rocky Dhir: Absolutely and of course I want to thank you for tuning in and encourage you not to miss next year’s annual meeting hopefully in person and back to normal on June 17 to 18, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas. Before we sign off please stay safe and make sure to follow all applicable orders for dealing with COVID-19 and please advise your clients and loved ones to do the same, this situation is changing fluidly and quickly so please do seek out legal counsel if you have a question, if you like what you heard today please rate and review us in Apple podcasts, Google podcast or your favorite podcast app, until next time remember, life’s a journey folks, I’m Rocky Dhir, signing off.
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