Susan Myres | Managing Decision Fatigue

Is decision fatigue impacting your performance?

Day after day, attorneys are called on to make hundreds of decisions… Without the proper rest and recovery, your brain can become overwhelmed.

In this episode, Susan Myres unpacks what decision fatigue is and shares how attorneys can manage and overcome decision fatigue so we can show up as our best selves.

Susan is the managing partner of Myres & Associates PLLC and has been litigating for over forty years.

She’ll cover:

  • Signs of decision fatigue
  • How decision fatigue can lead to malpractice
  • Strategies for managing decisions
  • Giving your brain a break
  • And more

Mentioned in this episode:


Susan Myres: In family law, there’re very, very serious consequences for our actions and inactions. So we have to take our jobs seriously and we have to make sure that if we are in decision fatigue and we are not making good decisions, we don’t make them.

Voiceover: You’re listening to the Texas Family Law Insiders podcast, your source for the latest news and trends in family law in the state of Texas. Now, here’s your host, attorney Holly Draper.

Holly Draper: Today we’re excited to welcome Susan Myres to the Texas Family Law Insiders podcast. Susan is the managing partner of Myres & Associates, PLLC in Houston, Texas. She has a JD from the University of Houston Law Center and has been litigating for over 40 years. She is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has been chosen as a Super Lawyer every year since 2006.

Susan has been a fellow in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers for over 20 years and as the immediate past president. She’s also a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and has served in numerous leadership roles in legal organizations in the Houston area and around the state. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Susan: It’s my pleasure, Holly.

Holly: So why don’t you tell us a little bit about your background?

Susan: Sure. I fell into a family law by accident. I was working for a law firm that did everything. We did DTPA. We did contract disputes. We did forcible entries and detainer. And then, after a while one of my bosses started to get a bunch of family law cases, and I was helping her with it. And I’ve never looked back. And that was back in 1982. So I’ve been doing it a long time. As soon as I could get board certified, I did.

And I have to say I still have an enormous passion about practicing law, even on the days that I’m tired, and I’m overwhelmed. Because it’s always a new day. There’s always a new law, application, facts of a case, people. I mean, there’s never a dull moment. And if there’s a dull moment, it’s usually because I’m home. And I need that.

So my background, I do a lot of research and application into psychology. Why do people do what they do? Why do couples end up in such hotly contested, high conflict matters that didn’t start that way? Why do kids act a certain way? I have a fascination with the human being. Both why we do something and how to predict what’s best going forward, and realizing I keep learning over and over again. And the topic for today is one of those.

Holly: So how would you describe your current practice?

Susan: My current practice, I have a small shop here in Houston. We call it a boutique. We’ve got three lawyers. Currently looking for another one just in case anybody’s listening. And all we do is family law. We have a full staff of paralegals, front office staff, etc. And that’s what we do. We do all matters of family law. We do not do third party adoptions. We do step parent adoptions. One of our lawyers does some guardianship work connected to the probate court. And very much a team approach when cases come in.

Holly: So today, we’re gonna talk about a topic that I really hadn’t ever thought about or heard anything about until you brought it up as an idea for the podcast. And that is decision fatigue. So explain to us what that is, and why do you think it’s an important topic for family lawyers?

Susan: Happy to. We’ve all heard about compassion fatigue, secondary trauma, the kinds of things that family lawyers are most aware of, because we live it, right. Because we’re giving empathy, we’re trying to take care of people’s problems. We own it. We’re not social workers. But we do have to get into the personal lives of people that are having high traumas.

If you do any domestic violence work, when we see what happens to these kids being taken from family, it’s just it’s a lot to carry. Decision fatigue is something that’s a little bit different. And Holly, it doesn’t just apply to family lawyers. But I think family lawyers have a megadose of it. So let’s kind of go back in time. It’s not new. This is not a new phenomenon.

I just learned this past weekend that Thomas Jefferson had it. Did you know in the last four months of his presidency, his second term, he didn’t make any decisions, like none. And in his writings in his letters, he said, I’m tired. I’m done. I’ll let Madison and his team, he gave no clue what he thought they should do with the War of 1812. No clue.

So I’m not exaggerating. For four months, he took no presidential action. And ironically, that’s when the House and the Senate started having more power because nobody else, it was a vacuum. So based on well, I can’t be that worthless because Jefferson had the same thing. I was traveling to Denver to visit our daughter and to attend the AFCC meeting.

And I know this is a podcast, but look at this magazine. It’s the Harvard Business Review special issue. How to make decisions amid chaos. And I’ve gone through most of it. I haven’t read every article, but the ones that applied to us, there’s 28 articles, 28 articles in this magazine, 17 of them apply to us. 17.

So it’s about why we enter into what is called decision fatigue. And we’ll go through some of how that looks. And several of the articles have, okay, now that you recognize you’re in decision fatigue areas, or you’re getting ready to go into decision fatigue, what can you do to protect yourself? Now, why do we care? Really, why do we care about this? In a word it’s because of malpractice.

When we are inundated with so many decisions coming at us like it’s worse than a firehose. It’s like a tsunami of decisions and data, et cetera, et cetera. And we pick wrong, or we fail to hit a deadline, we call our malpractice carrier. So my hope is, as we get to learn more about how this works as family lawyers, we will be better equipped when the tsunami hits because it’s not stopping.

We cannot stop the data, we cannot stop the needs, we cannot stop the decisions. But we can try to figure out how to better manage. And I’m on a learning curve. So I’m here to learn with you, and talk with you about some of the things that I found out so far. So let’s talk about family law in particular.

Who in family law will probably suffer from decision fatigue, besides us, besides the family lawyers that are in the trenches, and we’ll go to some of those details. But our judges. Think about the judges. They’ve got so much. Which case do I hear today? Which issues? What time restrictions? When do I take my lunch, so my staff doesn’t quit on me? I got to campaign.

I mean, it is mind numbing.

And then when they have people that come to court that aren’t very organized, that don’t have requested relief, and don’t have their ducks in a row, and all the kinds of things that good quality representation presents to them. And they’re struggling, okay, how am I going to figure out what this guy’s income is? How am I going to figure out what’s best for these kids for periods of possession, other than just slapping on an ESPO, because nobody’s given me enough data, or they’ve given me too much.

Holly: And then they have to deal with the pro se parties too while they’re at it.

Susan: Oh, don’t even make my head hurt. Okay, in Harris County, each of our 10 judges gets 5000 new cases a year. And they have modifications. So when you add all of that together, it’s just a lot. So they’ve got the problem. The court staffs have the same issues. You know, do accept this pleading, don’t move it over to the judge’s box? Uh oh, it’s got to an injunction that doesn’t look familiar.

It’s got a table of contents, heaven forbid, it’s got a table of contents. They too have just a lot to absorb. And then our poor clients, bless their hearts, bless their hearts. Not only are they having decisions being thrown, you know request for answers from them, from us, from their spouses, or their other parent, from their kids.

I mean, they’ve got a lot. We’re in a new language, they’re having to adapt to a new language. And remember that whole story we learned when we did psychology 101, the amygdala, the frontal cortex. So they’re in high emotion state. They are afraid of losing what they have, and not getting what they want.

Their little reptilian brain is back here doing flight or fight, or I think most women are doing I gotta gather all my friends to protect me from this horrible thing that’s happening out there. And we’re not thinking with the front part of our brain. How do we help our clients get to the front part of their brain?

So when they are participating in their decisions, they’re doing an effective job. So it’s every aspect of family law. And it’s particularly cruel to family lawyers themselves, because we think we know it all. They hire us to give them opinions. They hire us to give the answers, they hire us to give us the instructions.

And, you know, the family code changes, like every other year. Applications that are in the family code, depending on case analysis, it changes like almost daily. Our courts change. Oh my gosh, we went through a bunch of upheavals, and each judge is trying to polish their rules. So you have to check almost daily.

What’s the rules du jour in order to make sure you don’t miss step and forget to do your exhibits. I mean, it’s just a lot. It’s a lot for your staff as well. And Holly, I’ll confess it’s become personal to me. We were supposed to do this podcast a couple of weeks ago. I had to cancel because I had hit a wall. I was in the middle of an arbitration.

And I could not put something else on my plate. And I did a couple of other things, and I hate doing that. I’m like you, if you commit to do something, you want to do it. You don’t want to rearrange because people depend on you. But that was one of the lessons I learned to just say, I am sorry I’m doing this at the last minute, but I’ve got to take care of what has the highest priority. And I’ll joke with you. And this isn’t new.

I’d get home, John, my husband John, would say what do you want to get for dinner? And my response was, I ran out of decisions at three o’clock, you decide. That’s still true. And I would invite your listeners, find places where you can have a little humor and recognize, it really doesn’t matter. That decision really does not matter.

I think you’re probably aware of the growing volume of decisions that we think we need to make. I started practicing in ’82. And there was a lot of decisions, but Holly, the family code was, I don’t know, not even half an inch thick. Family code is now like three inches thick. So it’s just, it’s a lot. And look at the information that we’ve got on all of our case management systems and computer systems.

And it’s just it really does become overwhelming. And that’s why it’s hard. Holly, it’s not just the law. It’s everything about our lives. What am I going to wear today? What am I going to eat today? I need to have a certain number of calories, a certain number of proteins and blah, blah, blah, it just, it never ends.

And when you have so many decisions, and a limited capacity in our brains to make decisions, how do we help our brains prioritize what really needs its attention? And what we can just let somebody else decide, because at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what I ate for lunch.

So we’ve got all the decisions and in family law, well, you just shared with us about a mandamus. There’s very, very serious consequences for our actions and inactions. So we have to take our jobs seriously. And we have to make sure that if we are in decision fatigue, and we are not making good decisions, we don’t make them. If we can find somebody else to do it.

Or you warn people. During this case, there were three times I just hit a wall. It was seven o’clock at night, we were still taking testimony. And I just fessed up. I’m done. I cannot keep going tonight. And fortunately, the court, the arbitrator and opposing counsel, they got it. We were all tired, but it takes somebody with desperation, or maybe humility to go, I can’t do this.

Holly: Yeah, I think that’s really hard to do, and probably something that a lot of attorneys should consider. You know, I just think of mediations that last forever, ever and ever, and they are beating for everyone involved. And you know, think about your client is definitely going to be having decision fatigue as they’re sitting there for, well, fourteen hours. And you know, you don’t want to be the one to say we need to stop. But sometimes you need to be the one to say we need to stop.

Susan: Well, at least we should be the ones that say, we’ve been at this for eight hours, my back hurts. So I need to stand up and walk around. But I want you to tell me how you’re feeling. And we need to check each other. That’s why so much of what we do, and we’ll talk about it more. We have checklists, so we don’t miss the taxes or whatever it is that’s important at 12 o’clock at night, we might not remember.

But Holly, I don’t know about you, but I hate, hate, hate, hate discovery. A standard discovery request on kind of a low budget kind of case, is it about, I don’t know 3000 pages that you have to review. And you have to produce it, you have to review what comes over from the other side, you have to evaluate.

That takes a lot of time. And if you don’t do it, and there’s that smoking gun somewhere in the other side’s pieces of paper that they don’t organize, they don’t put it by date, they don’t do good Bates numbering, it is taxing at its maximum. Usually with cases that can’t afford it. So I challenge the family lawyers to figure out a better way to get the core data that we need in order to advise our clients and to inform our clients about what’s what.

Was it the disclosure? I thought that was just a stupid exercise in futility to try to figure out what my claims were in the first 30 days. But the concept isn’t bad as long as it’s not rushed. So if we think about mandatory disclosures not in 30 days, but some reasonable amount of time when people have had a chance to let things get to some sort of homeostasis, maybe that’s a tool.

But I really don’t know what to tell you other than when our family wizard, talking parents, text messaging, emails, some people still do letters and cards, school records, bank records, credit card statements, financial information and other investments, real estate documents, when you put all of that together, it is not extraordinary, to have something that has 7,000 pages to 27,000 pages. Who’s gonna read that?

Holly: And most of it is going to be useless.

Susan: Yes, the extra pages and your stupid credit card statements. But when they’re not there, people go, we’re missing page two and four, and you’re like those were the filters with the ads, but you don’t know. And then we’ve got to worry about fake statements. When I go to those CLEs, I just completely get paralyzed. Am I looking at a real statement? And I know you’re a leader in your firm, it’s even tougher for us.

Because we’ve got to make all the decisions about keeping our offices going. Keeping you know, our employees, content, keeping them busy, keeping them educated. Really, it is a lot to manage. And then I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a life outside of law. Kids, you know, a lot of us have kids, grandkids, parents, dogs. Got a new puppy.

So she’s taking up a lot of time, and decisions. How do we, how do we figure this out? And I don’t know. The data coming in that arguably is relevant, or at least is discoverable in our cases, is an overwhelming amount of information. And it is going to drive family lawyers, either out of business or out of their minds. And we’ve got to figure out a solution. The decisions aren’t getting less, they’re getting more complex and mundane simultaneously.

So okay, now, what are the signs? How do you know if you’ve got decision fatigue? And it could be compassion fatigue, it could be secondary trauma, it could be physical exhaustion. There’s lots of things that could trigger these. But if you see a bunch of them showing up. So chronic distraction, like I can’t seem to stay off all the different monitors, I can’t seem to stay focused on the task at hand.

I’m repeating things to my staff. I’m not following through on things they’ve given me. I’m the hold up. And I’m like, well, where is that? Where is that? Sometimes it’s right on my desk. I know, when we were in the worst of the efforts on a case, it’s like, my vision gets a little wonky, it’s stuck. Sometimes I’m so up in the brain, I’m not present. And when you’re not present, you don’t see.

When you’re not present, you don’t hear, you don’t experience. And as a family lawyer, you need all of your senses on full gear, when you’re involved in a client meeting, in a court proceeding in a drafting of a pleading, you need to be present. There’s also issues we’ll hear from I’m sure that tlap folks, a lot of impulse control, a lot of self comfort. I confess during COVID, I probably gained 40 pounds. And it was delicious.

Holly: I can relate.

Susan: Yeah. Because I don’t know about you, but there was a lot of decisions, a lot of fear, things that I found comfort in anything that was not nutritious. Some other symptoms that you might feel would be depression, anxiety. Sometimes that’s not distinguished from before the decision fatigue, but it does get worse. When you are, you are under demand to make a lot of decisions that you know, have serious outcomes.

Sometimes I will act more impulsively. I’m a big fan of retail therapy. Everybody around me will share that with you. I try to do my retail therapy where it doesn’t cause me too much harm. And that sometimes I just confess that’s what I’m doing. And hopefully, I’m buying things that are consumable, not something that continues to clutter up my world.

Because clutter is also an aggravator decision fatigue and clean thinking. You’ll see sometimes bursts of anger. I caught myself doing that, and short tempered. Very short temper. Like I didn’t have time for silly questions. I didn’t have time. You know, I told you this three times. Why are we having this conversation?

Just out of character, just completely out of character. Fortunately, I am a talker. And I would tell people, I am in high stress mode right now. So please, if I snap, it is not personal. It’s because I’m unmanaged. And now I don’t know that that helps them. But it helps me.

Because it gave me a safe place to at least say it. And sometimes by saying my bad behavior helps me correct it. But when you’re under intense pressure, that I don’t know that there’s a way to correct it. But we’ll see. There’s exhaustion, and you can’t sleep.

Holly: You can’t turn your brain off.

Susan: Vicious cycle, absolutely vicious cycle. You will lose family connections, friend connections. During the worst of this, I did make an effort. They’re there to friend appointments, gatherings. And during this really tough time, and I made an effort to attend those. A family event and a friend event. And that fed me, that fed me enough to keep moving.

And then we’ve already talked about the mistakes, but some of them aren’t, aren’t too serious. They’re not like malpractice mistakes. One day I was driving to the office, I’m not really sure where I thought I was going, it wasn’t to the office, I missed an exit that I’ve gone on, Holly, probably 1000 times. And I was just distracted, and I missed the exit.

You might drop things, misplace things, I was kind of famous for that. I’ll show you how I carry my phone. I get a shoulder strap on my phone, because I don’t want to ever spend time looking for it. So you’ll find tools to help you not have to make some of those decisions. We’ve talked about, and you know this better than you know a lot of us, we’ve talked about why lawyers, family lawyers in particular, are so driven to do this.

And we want to be dependable. We want to be valued. We want to be known as the expert. We want to be known as the best person for this case. And I’m real clear with clients, I may not be the best one for your case. And I’m not the best lawyer out there. I’m not the smartest, I’m not the most litigious. I’ve got a good basket of tools, including my office.

But I don’t fit every case, and I don’t fit with every client and trying to be cognizant of that has helped me have a little bit of peace. But I know a lot of the young lawyers, they don’t have that luxury. They will take the case because the rent is due. They will take the case, because XYZ is due.

They will take the case because they’re afraid if they don’t take that case, their boss will be mad at them. We do a lot. And we also, we’ve done a lot of school. People on your podcast have probably done a lot of CLE. People on your podcast probably want to improve, and they want to do good jobs for their clients. And so we make that effort to be the answer to the client’s issues. You want to be dependable to our courts.

You want to be the one that shows up prepared, well versed in the law. And sometimes you really are just doing the best you can and recognizing that may be enough. And those of us that suffer from perfectionism and OCD. I don’t know if we had those disorders before we became lawyers, or we got those disorders because we became family lawyers.

Holly: I think most of us probably had it before and that’s part of what drove us to this profession.

Susan: Okay, and perfectionism is a huge driver of decision fatigue, because we’ll second guess, and look for one more thing and answer one more question. That wasn’t the question that we actually had before us, but we’re worried about what’s the next tact? So I’ve rambled on enough and then I want to talk about some of the solutions that I’ve learned about. But do you have any questions like, have you experienced this in your career? Have you seen it happening with other lawyers or judges?

Voiceover: This episode of the Texas Family Law Insiders podcast is sponsored by the Draper Law Firm, providing family law litigation in Collin, Denton, and Dallas counties and appeals across Texas. The Draper Firm has represented parents in cases before multiple courts of appeals and prevailed in the Texas Supreme Court in one of the biggest parental rights cases in Texas history. For more information, visit or call 469-715-6801.

Holly: I definitely see it happening and I think as a family lawyer, part of the decision fatigue comes from thinking that these decisions are all ours to make. But at the end of the day, it is not our life. It is not our family. And the decision needs to be made with our assistance by our clients. And so sometimes they don’t want to make that decision.

Sometimes they want us to make the decision. But I’m always very clear like, this is not my life, this is your life, you are the one who has to make this call. These are your choices, I think this is probably what way I would go, but you’re the one that has to make this decision. I think that can help.

Kind of takes a little bit of the burden off of us, because we’re not making that ultimate decision. I also think I’m a very decisive person. I don’t overanalyze, I don’t get analysis paralysis very much. I might look at one option and if I like it, I go with it. Maybe I look at two or three, but I’m not going to be looking at a million. If I’m gonna buy a house, I’m not gonna tour a million houses, I’m gonna say, these are the three I want to look at.

And then I’m going to pick one. But I know a lot of that’s my personality and the way I’m wired. And there’s a lot of people who are not that way. And they want to deep dive into every single choice that they have. And when we’re seeing that in other people, maybe we need to try and help them break out of that a little bit.

Susan: Yeah, in fact, I wrote a cya letter to a client yesterday who was making a decision that he was not following legal advice. And it’s not crucial to the case. Well it could be, but I say this to my clients with great regularity. This is not my life. These are not my children. And this is not my money. My job is to provide for you the best options I can think. I might guide you to one that I think is more appropriate, knowing what I know about your family.

But at the end of the day, it is your decision. And when they asked me, what would you do? And my response is, well, I’m different than you, I have different financial needs. I’m at a different age and place in my life, and I have a different personality. So I’ll answer the question, but just know, I’m coming at it from a different perspective.

This is attractive to me, because I would rather have money in my hand than hope I get it in the future, especially when I’m dealing with somebody like your spouse, but I’m not you. So I tried to, like you said, share the decision. But just knowing what the options are, you know, being able to decide what are all the options.

What are the reasonable options within their resources, and being able to say, if you had more resources, this is where we would like to go. Right now, this is, you’re kind of option limited. I think what you said about watching for our friends is very, very important. And our clients. You know, a lot of our engineers will completely engineer something to death. And so I’ve started to capture terms that they use in their practice.

One is freeze point. Freeze point is tomorrow, noon. No more changes after noon. And that’s something architects, engineers, people get that term. And we’ll do that in our office. There’s a lot of do I need to respond to that email? Do I need to respond to that accusation? We’ve got another technique. Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said by me now? And does it need to be said at all?

More often than not my anger, frustration, or whatever that emotion is that wants to flare off an email, I usually send it to myself first, and then decide about it. Because more often than not, nobody needs to know what I think. It does not move the needle and the world’s gonna keep revolving. So, other things that I’ve learned, I attended the AFCC meeting up in Denver and several other topics addressed this.

Holly: What does AFCC stand for, for anybody who might now know?

Susan: AFCC. The Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts. And that is a group of family lawyers, judges, and a lot of mental health professionals. Both therapists, child custody evaluators, you know, a wide variety of folks. And they get together by state and then nationally and internationally.

The American Academy had a joint meeting with them in DC a couple, about a month ago, I guess. This was just the Denver chapter. Our daughter lives there. So I thought, oh, I’ll do both. And it turns out, it was excellent. Their chapter had national speakers talk about really important topics, and I got a lot out of a couple of them.

So things I’ve learned by trial and error, by ratification, confirmation with some of the things I’ve learned, and some of it just from friends, is kind of what I did the other day where I said, I’ve hit a wall. Admit there’s a problem, because then if they’re still expecting you to make decisions, you’ve warned them.

I don’t like admitting I’ve got to stop, it’s just my nature, but I found that doing that gave me permission to take a break, literally take a break. A brain break. And I think we need to ask for help. We’ve got staff that can help. There’s outsiders that can help. There’s a lot of contract lawyers. There’s contract paralegals. I have a business coach that I meet with once a month by phone.

And he’s great to bounce ideas off and make sure that I stay on the beam or on the track of whatever. And then having a trusted person who calls you on your stuff. Susan, nobody cares what you think about that. Susan, that decision can be done by anyone but you. It just not, but somebody that you that you’ll listen to and try to follow, because they’ve got your best interest at heart and always have.

So close colleagues, sometimes it’s your family members, but then you’re always testing. Is that really what they want to do? Or is that what they think I need to do? I love the ability to postpone the decision. I remember when my dad was dying, and they asked my mom to redo or to reevaluate his DNA. No DNR, sorry. And she just couldn’t make the decision.

And I sweetly said to her, I said, mom, not making the decision is a decision to. And I think we need to own that. We can decide not to decide. That’s fair. When really sticky wicket cases come in, instead of thinking, oh, I’ve got a solution right here. Be candid and go. This is a lot to absorb. There’s a lot of things to think about.

And I think I’m going to ask for time and giving our clients permission to do that. I don’t know if you follow any of Bill Eddy’s work. But one of his books about negotiating with high conflict people. The title is, What’s Your Proposal? It’s one of the tools is instead of thinking you have to respond to a request, ask for time. Yeah, I need to think about that. I’ll get back to you Monday afternoon.

Put yourself a cushion, so that you don’t feel that pressure of needing to make the decision. We all know the tools of taking care of ourselves. Eat right, sleep right, exercise right. Do service and keep yourself spiritually fit. All that’s important. I’m not diminishing it. But we do need to remind ourselves, it’s for us, not just our clients.

Delegation, you know perfectionists, have a really, really tough time to delegate. And we’re going to have to be okay with that. Knowing that people will make mistakes, it’s not the end of the world. If you’re correcting things over and over again, then you really need to have a discussion about termination of employees that are causing you more angst than they are help.

That’s also a tough decision to have to go through. Lots of apps on our phones that can give you breaks. I require that people that work for me take an hour break. I don’t care if you eat lunch, I would prefer you be away from your desk, but we have a couple of knitters that like to sit and knit at their desk. That’s okay, too. I just need them to have a brain break. I wish I could follow that advice more.

And maybe over time. I started taking laps in Greenway Plaza and it’s very pretty. So taking laps, just a quick little, just around, not even a full block is just a couple of buildings. You’re outside. I’ve got some empty space next to my office. I found that just walking that empty space gives me some help. When I go to bed I usually read.

It’s a way to get my brain to disengage. So now let’s be in high zone, high stress, panic attack, kind of moment. Things that experts have taught us. Deep breathing. You don’t have to go into a room and meditate for five minutes. That just makes me insane. But you can deep breathe. Another technique I just learned was the five senses.

Be able to say, where am I? Where am I sitting? What do I see? What do I hear? Bringing yourself into the present. It’s like a therapist is the one that suggested that. There’s some other weird things and weird only because we tend not to think of them. Sometimes aromatherapy. Do you like Mentholatum or Vicks? Any of those?

Sometimes, old wives tales work because they became old wives. One of those is cold compresses on the back of our neck. I’ve used it with a couple of clients who I thought oh gosh, she’s gonna pass out. Or she’s just hyperventilating. Cold compress. I know this sounds so silly. And why are family lawyers talking about this? Look, I’m going to use every tool I’ve got.

And if putting a cold compress helps my client calm, I’m gonna go find a cold compress. It’s not the, you know, it’s not rocket science. Whatever works. Think about using it. I have found that aromatherapy remember, in the olden days in old books like regency romances and stuff, get your smelling salts. It’s a real thing. And sometimes that does bring people back to a place of better peace.

Do not forget to sleep. If you’ve got an app on your watch or whatever, test your sleeping. Nothing will make you have decision fatigue worse than not being well rested. I mean, nothing. You know, there’s an acronym that’s probably pretty good for lots of things. But it’s SHALT. Don’t make big decisions, or take care of yourself when you need to make big decisions if you’re sick, you’re hungry, you’re angry, you’re lonely, or you’re tired.

So if those are happening, which I don’t know, Holly, that happened to you probably daily, all right. Okay, so just know that if I’m hungry, and there’s lots of great research by Kahneman and thinking slow and fast all those great brain thinkers, it’s true. Judges that had to make decisions before lunch versus judges that make decisions after lunch, people get parole, or they don’t.

So I don’t know, we’re not any better at it than they are. So make sure that if you’ve got those really important decisions, do I file a mandamus? Do I file it with or without this? Do I put this pleading in? Do I go down this tack of discovery? Whatever it is, make sure that you are thinking the best you can.

Then there’s you know, as a thing that you’re going to read in all the magazines, golf, yoga. One thing in there that I liked is playing in the dirt, like planting, gardening kinds of stuff. I love puppies. You know, I’ve got one that this morning, I didn’t love her all that much. But usually being around puppies is very uplifting. Laughing is truly a great cure, Holly, there’s just not a lot that we laugh at in our cases.

But if you can find any places of humor in our cases, and bring that to our clients, we really are doing good work for them. Okay, and I will end on plan your vacation. Plan your vacation to a place that you’re looking forward to, a time that you’re looking forward to. And make sure your vacation letters and all protections are in place. So you do not sacrifice your well being.

Holly: Yes, I’m a big believer in the vacation. I have four of them on the books in the next nine months or so. Highly recommended. And my advice to all the other lawyers out there is don’t be a jerk when somebody else has a vacation. Let them take it, the work will still be there afterwards.

Susan: Because you’re gonna need a favor.

Holly: Yes, exactly.

Susan: I need to ask you a question. Do you find that some of our younger lawyers don’t know that?

Holly: You mean to let somebody else take a vacation? Or to take one of themselves?

Susan: To be careful about being jerks? Vacations, or I’ve got a conflict? Or can you give me a couple more days?

Holly: I don’t know that the trend I see is younger versus older. There are certain lawyers in where I practice where they just have that reputation and that’s the way they are. They’re not going to be kind, they’re not going to care about what you have going on. And then there are others that you know, always will.

Now at the same time you can’t become a doormat that everybody’s gonna walk over because they know that you’re gonna agree to whatever they’re gonna want. But I think everybody needs to have a little grace.

We’re all in this together. We’re all going to be in this together long after our clients’ cases are over. So we’re just about out of time, but one question I like to ask everyone that comes on to the podcast is if you could give one piece of advice to young family lawyers, what would it be?

Susan: Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Holly: Short and sweet. I like it. So thank you so much for joining us today. For our listeners, if you enjoyed this podcast take a second to leave us a review and subscribe so you can enjoy future episodes.

Voiceover: The Texas Family Law Insiders podcast is sponsored by the Draper Law firm. We help people navigate divorce and child custody cases and handle family law appellate matters. For more information, visit our website at

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