Dear Amicus Agony,
I have been in practice for less than two years now. Since the lockdown, I have been feeling rebellious. I don’t really feel like doing my assigned task and I am just shutting off my mind to whatever my boss says. Perhaps I am having a meltdown? Since the gradual reopening of businesses, I have been working from home (WFH) and gradually working in the office in shifts since it’s still the default to work from home. But recently I have been feeling really frustrated which explains the rebellious feeling that is brewing in me. Because of WFH, the division between work and personal time has blurred, clients expect us to answer their calls even after working hours as they know we are at home and I always pick up the calls to attend to them. Even my boss calls me most times after office hours to discuss work. I can understand if the work is urgent but that isn’t the case. I also find the online court sessions for pre-trial conferences or mediation via Zoom challenging. It is common to have to wait for judges outside their chambers in the physical courtroom where I will get to see my friends and just have small conversations whilst waiting. But with the online sessions, we are expected to wait and stare at the computer until they let us into the Zoom session and unfortunately for most of my matters, I have had to wait up to an hour to be allowed into the Zoom session. Whilst waiting, I can’t really do anything else because I am afraid the session may suddenly start, and I am caught unprepared. Though I must say that the Zoom session is really convenient as I don’t have to travel to the courts. That said, I am just afraid that I will have an outburst one of these days. But I feel like I could not care less because I am really unhappy. What should I do?
Dear Depressed Lawyer,
I can feel that you have been bottling up your feelings for a very long time and it must be extremely frustrating to keep things inside you.
Let’s deal with what’s frustrating you.
- Blurring of work and personal timeYou are not alone. Most people have been voicing out that the division between work and personal time has blurred since WFH has become the default. I do feel that you are a very responsible person as you still attend to the calls regardless of the calls being urgent or not. It seems to pain you that you are not able to push the calls from clients/bosses away. However, I do feel that you need to ascertain which calls are urgent and which calls you can follow up with the following working day so that you have your own personal time after official working hours end. For non-urgent calls, you should politely assure your clients or boss that you will attend to them the following day so that you don’t sound dismissive. Keep the conversation short and sweet and write the instructions somewhere so that you can attend to it first thing the following day. Once you create a pattern as to how you answer those calls, the clients or your boss will get the small hints and be more mindful and they will not be offended. We are all humas after all and we each have our limits.
You may also want to stay away from the “working space” you have designated to do your work whether it be your room or elsewhere, so that you do not feel like you have not left the “office”, after working hours. Take a walk around your house and just sit down at a different area and do something else like watch Netflix or telegram/whatsapp your friends or family members etc. The good thing is we can leave the house now as we are not in lockdown, so you may consider leaving the house and taking a walk to reenergize yourself.
- Court Zoom SessionYou may call the registry if you waited past one hour and inform them that you are already in the Zoom session. Do bear with the registry as they are trying to keep sessions timely. But rest assured that the registry will inform the court officers that you have waited for an hour and they will call your session shortly after.
Perhaps you are feeling a void because you do not get to see the usual friends that you get to meet and have conversations with whilst waiting for your sessions at court. I am pretty sure they are feeling the same way. So just pick up that phone and give them a call or drop a text. I am sure that call or text will lead to making tea and/or supper appointments with them soon where you can rant and crack jokes about life together again.
If you think you need more help, don’t hesitate to seek help or voice it out. The Law Society’s LawCare scheme is a confidential counselling service administered in conjunction with the Counselling and Care Centre for members so do avail yourself of the service if you feel you need to reach out to someone.
I hope that you will be able to tide over this trying time and I wish you the very best moving forward.