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Jamie Collins

By: Jamie Collins

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a friend and fellow writer, which prompted me to write this post. Her question went a little something like this: “How do you have so much time to write?”

So, after I picked myself back up from that spot on the floor, where I landed, after falling out of my chair, following a full-blown, personal, laughing attack, which nearly collapsed my lungs and took my life, I decided to write this post. Now, I have to say, this is not the first time this general inquiry has been made of me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Nearly every person I’ve met via LinkedIn or The Paralegal Society has asked me “how I do it all?” I’ve received a multitude of e-mails from people asking the same question: “how do you do it all?” I am, of course, always flattered by these types of inquiries. First, flattered that they reached out to me. Second, honored that they think I’m doing all of these cool things. Lastly, amazed that they would want tips from me.

Today, I’m here today to make a confession: “I don’t do it all.” No one does. Granted, I know it seems that I’m a fairly industrious person when one takes into consideration the culmination of ventures which make up my life. There is my paralegal job, family (shout out to Chris and Gavin), blogging and coordination of posts for The Paralegal Society, moderation of the TPS LinkedIn forum, my column for KNOW: The Magazine for Paralegals, and guest contributions for various other publications, in addition to my personal time (heh…personal time…what’s that) oh yeah – where I attempt to paint my fingernails, shop, read or watch a little brain sucking television. Am I busy? Absolutely. Sure. Sign me up all day under that category! However, I don’t do it all. No one does.

I’ve had many people ask me how I can spend so much time doing all of the stuff I do in paralegal land. When it comes down to it, it can be summed up with one word: passion. When you genuinely love what you are doing, and possess a natural flare for it, it’s not just another thing to complete and check off of your list. It becomes what is most important on that “list;” an area of passion, something you truly enjoy, look forward to doing…something meaningful, positive, motivational, helpful or inspirational that makes your life bigger, better, brighter, interesting, and more fun.

While I may spend a significant amount of time each day, week, and month working my 9:00-5:30 job, interacting with my fabulous family, blogging, writing, speaking at the local university, answering questions, stalking writers, and responding to e-mails from random people, I’m here to let you in on a little secret: I do not view these things as work. They certainly require hard work, but these are all things that I truly love, so the work is not a burden, load or bother. These things are a passion. I am fueled by them. They are a personal calling, and it’s my privilege and honor to get to blog and write to/for other paralegals, speak to students, work for my fantastic law firm, and spend quality time with my amazing family.

Granted, some days, these things can certainly feel like a lot of work, especially when I’m spread too thin, deadlines are looming, the “trial paralegal walking” theme song is playing over those invisible loudspeakers overhead, I’m feeling a bit under the weather or tired, Gavin wants yet another glass of chocolate milk, the supervising esquire a/k/a boss can’t find a file (why is there one always missing and it’s that file– the one he needs) – and there all of these things are…just waiting for me to do them. I must admit that I continue to await the day when I inadvertently manage to drop a legal brief off at baseball diamond 6, and little Gavin off at the courthouse. However, I’ve found that if I’m fueled by passion, and love what I find myself doing majority of the time, it’s not really much like work. It’s inspiring. It’s fuel. It’s personal passion that allows me to channel my inner do-aholic and bring it forth into the world.

Here are some suggestions for honing your inner do-aholic:

1. Identify your areas of passion;

2. Take action to better align yourself with them;

3. Determine what is currently a part of your life that you don’t particularly enjoy (and no, I’m not talking manual filing or other wretched tasks here, people — I’m talking about key areas that make up a significant part of your life that you don’t enjoy);

4. Take action to fill your life with more of #1 and less of #3 above;

5. Reprioritize. Place the things you are passionate about at the top of your life list and work to keep them there. For me, those things are family, writing, The Paralegal Society, and my career. Other things may come and go in my life, but I try to keep these areas at the forefront. I put them at the top of my personal priority list, and intentionally and methodically work to keep them there;

6. If you have yet to discover your passions, branch out and try some new things to find them. If your passions seem to be eluding you, reprioritize, and realign your life to make your way back onto the happy track; and

7. Repeat, as needed.

I once interviewed Stayce Wagner for a cover story for KNOW: The Magazine for Paralegals, and when I asked her “how she does it all,” her reply to that question really struck me. She said something along the lines of (and I’m paraphrasing here): “I don’t do it all. I am no super woman. I just do the best I can. I believe we all do bits and pieces of it well.”

There is so much truth to that statement. Let me just assure you, my closet isn’t color coded and sorted by season. In fact, I’m doing good if each morning I can manage to wrangle two matching socks out of that God forsaken, non-matched sock drawer that has morphed into a sketchy version of that grade school game, Memory Mate. I don’t work out 4 times a week (not even once most weeks, unless of course, you consider running through the office at a full sprint in search of a critical, missing document or file while wearing high heels, a work out – heh – I certainly do), and I don’t spend my time doing things in my spare time that I’d rather not do, and don’t enjoy! Just like Stayce said… I have to carefully choose which bits and pieces of my life I’m going to focus on, do them, and do them well.

Each day, I make that choice, and so do you. We look at the overall picture, determine what’s most important, set priorities, assess our lives, and attempt to find the bits and pieces we can, and will, do well. That’s how we all do it. There is no “doing it all.” There is simply what we choose to do; the things we choose to throw our whole hearts fully over the fence for, and the proverbial riff raff that we get done each day, simply because we have to do it. It really is that uncomplicated when you stop to think about it…or at least it could be. Perhaps your closets are better organized than mine.

Thing is – I don’t really give it much thought when lurking about in the darkness playing the “let’s get dressed” game on a Monday morning. When I’m writing a new article or blog post, sitting at Gavin’s little league game clapping and cheering like it’s the World Series, intently watching Survivor or attending a Pacer game with my husband, preparing for a big jury trial, interacting with the TPS inner circle and my friends or stalking new contributing writers, that unorganized closet or non-existent work-out schedule are the furthest thing from my mind. I enjoy these things. I really do. Each and every one of them. I really, truly, honestly love all of the things that I have going on in my life, and I hope you do too. So for me, these things are not work, but a privilege and an honor. They are opportunities to use who I am, what I have, and what I know, to help others and positively impact their lives, whether it’s helping Gavin to write a few tricky letters of the alphabet more clearly, cheering on a fellow paralegal or writing a piece that makes me so astonishingly happy that I want to readily drape myself in the American flag and sing “Kumbaya.” I have my things, and you have yours. We do those things really, really well. They are at the top of the list.

So, the next time you find yourself wondering how someone else “has so much time to…” or “how they do it all,” stop, pause, reflect, and realize, that he or she doesn’t, didn’t and won’t. Somewhere along the way, he or she has just made some key choices on what’s important, and those are the significant bits and pieces that he or she does really well. And so do you.

Do you have your laundry list of priorities all figured out, TPS readers? Perhaps you’re still in search of your key areas of passion or consider your priority list to be a work in progress? If you have anything you’d like to share…anything at all, just hit that comment button, and fill the page with your brilliant thoughts. Nothing would make us happier!

To all of you lovely ladies out there – Happy High Heel Friday! And to all of the fabulous fellas – T.G.I.F.

Make it fantastic!