Take Advantage of the “Down” Days

We are all so busy, so married to our work calendars – when do we have a reporting assignment, when is this one due, that one due, when is our next software training, annual convention, etc – that sometimes we forget to schedule ourselves in. Time off is critical to our longevity in this field. I’ve seen many reporters get burned out in their first 2, 5, 10 years. We need you too much, so please don’t let this happen to you!

I had a “baby” court reporter that I mentored and she said that she would always schedule “off” Day 8 from the day she took a deposition to be sure that she would be able to produce it if she hadn’t already gotten it finished. While this may not work for the heavy hitters out there (who are hopefully using scopists and proofreaders!), for someone who is just starting out in this business and learning the time management skills, I found this a really great option. She found a way to slow herself down in case she needed to. And, if she was caught up, she could either take an additional assignment or just have the day to do what she needed or wanted to do.

This life is supposed to be about balance. I said “supposed” to be because we all know that sometimes we get bogged down in pages and can barely come up for air. This is unhealthy. I’m minded of the scene with Jack Nicholson in The Shining (“all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”). Nor am I saying that I am very good at this; I’m still trying, 24 years later, to figure out the balance – but I *am* getting better at it!

So if that job cancels for next week, don’t fret. Instead, take it for the gift that it really is. Maybe go see a movie or get a pedicure. Take time to call a friend and meet up for a cup of coffee or a walk along the greenway.

When your friend calls and says she’s coming to town for a visit, get out your calendar and block off the day. When there’s a show that you want to see coming in, buy the tickets. PUT THE EVENT ON YOUR CALENDAR. If something comes up (an assignment), you have the right to say, “No, I’m sorry. I’m busy that day.” They don’t need to know WHY you’re busy, just that you can’t cover that assignment. It’s OKAY to say no. Your first duty should be to yourself and your own well-being.

This business is fast paced and sometimes your body clock needs to hit that reset button. Listen to your body. Take a nap, run some errands, sit by the pool. Don’t worry; the work will still be there when you get back. And you will feel refreshed after taking the down time.