Although it seems that the level of transactions has calmed down somewhat post June 30 and the end of the first stamp duty holiday, it has not perhaps been the “cliff-edge” that some predicted.
As we work towards the next of the SDLT deadlines at the end of September, house prices have only dipped very slightly (the latest figures suggest 0.1%), demand is high and expectations around the speed of transactions remain equally high. So have conveyancers really had a chance to recover from the unprecedented stresses of the last year? How can they build resilience and avoid burnout in the weeks and months to come?
Legal Bricks has been working with ex-lawyer and specialist resilience coach Leah Steele (Searching for Serenity) to look at what the main stressors are for conveyancers and how they can be managed or avoided.
All too often we simply “put off” looking after ourselves with the excuse that we’ll wait until everything calms down to sort things out. This has been particularly evident with conveyancers who have battled through unprecedented levels of work, alongside the pressure of unrealistic expectations, demands and timescales.
Leah warns that this approach can lead to burn-out if not addressed.
“We all have triggers or stressors which provoke a stress reaction and often if we let these go on over an extended period of time our ability to manage them effectively diminishes to the point that we are no longer able to cope. Taking time off or having a break from work is a short-term fix as essentially you’ll still come back to the same problems.”
“Long term there’s a real difference between self-care (such as having a holiday) and self-regard. The latter is all about implementing strategies to help manage your stressors in the long term. It’s about putting yourself at the centre of your decision-making process, setting boundaries and managing expectations. All too often we say yes to things and then work out how we’ll achieve them, but we shouldn’t rush in to saying yes – first off we should clarify what’s needed and agree a realistic deadline first.”
At a recent event hosted by Legal Bricks, Leah spoke to conveyancers about their pain points over the last 12 months and what strategies are most effective in dealing with these stressors.
The first thing we need to do is identify our stressors – in many cases conveyancers have said that the sheer volume of enquiries, emails and calls has been a major stressor for them, as well as unrealistic demands from buyers and sellers with regard to their transactions. Accepting that you have a busy role and a to-do list which is never likely to be empty is a useful mantra – don’t aim to eliminate all your to-dos, just find a way to manage them and not burn yourself out whilst doing so.
Here’s some practical guidance for managing stressors.
You need to “leave something in the tank” for yourself, so learn to say no where requests are not achievable or at the very least agree a deadline which doesn’t mean you sacrifice personal time. Don’t agree to something and then work out how you’ll get it done, rather, step back and take stock, work out what capacity you have and whether you can bring in support to help get things done.
Get some active rest ( not just passive rest)
It’s important that when we are not working we don’t just sleep or “not work”. Engaging in hobbies, sports and spending time with families, known as “active rest” is important to completely take our minds off work, re-energise us and help to come back refreshed.
Set boundaries ( where you work, at what time, response times etc)
With many people working from home or working flexible hours, boundaries have become even more blurred than before. Setting boundaries for yourself is useful – it could be that you don’t look at work emails or messages after a certain time, confine work to one area or room of the house or that you actively have “tech-free” time.
Little sister test
I always advise my clients to perform the “little sister test”. So imagine that your little sister (or brother, daughter, son) is relating the problems you have been experiencing back to you. What advice would you give them, what would you do to help and support them? Now take your own advice.
Ask for support
If you are feeling overwhelmed, you are certainly not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help as your mental health and well being and your long-term happiness is of paramount importance.
Michael Connelly, MD of Legal Bricks adds,
“we have been working with conveyancers for over a decade and have never seen busyness and stress levels as high as they have been in recent months. Leah has really helped our clients and colleagues to think about how they can best manage their stressors, build resilience and most importantly, avoid burnout. We’ll also be taking on board the tips at Legal Bricks – many of our staff work flexibly and/or from home, so setting boundaries and balance and looking after their wellbeing is key to our continued success.”
Legal Bricks supports firms in a multitude of ways through our custom-built end to end software solutions, which encompass a conveyancing quotation and referral platform, full suite of conveyancing searches and insurances, AML and Biometric solution, client on-boarding platform and a hybrid service which aims to fill the void between the case-management system and the end user.
Leah Steele from Searching from Serenity is a mentor and trainer for corporate professionals who are struggling with exhaustion, burnout and imposter syndrome. An ex-lawyer, she is passionate about helping find clients find a way to create a career they love without sacrificing their life outside of work.