We use cookies to collect and analyse information on site performance and usage to improve and customise your experience, where applicable. View our Cookies Policy. Click Accept and continue to use our website or Manage to review and update your preferences.

Healthy habits key to optimum performance
Pic: Shutterstock

21 Dec 2023 / wellbeing Print

Healthy habits key to optimum performance

At the third webinar of the High Impact Professional Series (14 December), more than 500 participants gained useful insights into habits that support performance, and how to build them into their daily routines.

Delivered by Law Society Psychological Services in partnership with Law Society Professional Training, the ‘Building High Impact Habits’ webinar drew on a range of approaches among the panel.

“I think this is particularly valuable, as what works for one individual may not work for another. We’re very mindful of that,” said Teri Kelly (Law Society Director of Representation and Member Services) who chaired the webinar.

The panelists included sport, exercise, and performance psychologist Anne-Marie Kennedy, barrister Aoife McNickle, and Jason Murphy, co-founder and CEO of financial-services group Centrus.

Work performance and wellbeing

Each of them shared habits they had included in their lives that had made a big impact on their work performance and general wellbeing.

“I make sure the laptop is turned off by 7pm every evening. It’s very simple, but it took me a couple of years to figure that one out. We can get stuck in knowing things and not taking action. I find myself in that space a lot,” said Kennedy.

“Another habit which has made a profound impact came about just after COVID-19. I got very busy work-wise and didn’t have enough time to look after my self-care. I wanted to do some running because all of my athletes and teams were doing competitions on WhatsApp.

“I decided to ‘habit-stack’ by wearing my running gear when dropping the children to school, and then just run up and down the avenue nearby. I started by doing 2km in 23 minutes and, after a month, got this down to 11 minutes. It inspired me to go to the gym and work on my physical fitness, which ends up in mental fitness as well.”

Catalyst habits

A former chair of the Council of the Bar of Ireland’s Equality and Resilience Committee, Aoife McNickle outlined two things she does regularly which she described as “catalyst or gateway habits".

“I prefer working out at home because there are fewer obstacles to me doing it. I get up early and do it first thing. It gets energy into my system and clears my mind,” she explained.

“Even if I don’t do anything else in terms of good habits for the rest of the day, having that under my belt gives me a great start. It has been key to me going on to stack further good habits”.

The other thing McNickle has found very useful is to actively build periods of reflection into her day: “Sometimes we plod along on an automation setting. I don’t think you can perform at your optimum level without checking in with yourself and looking at what you need to change here and there,” she said.

“I have done a lot of personal development around really being aware of myself and my flags and what habits help me to get to my optimum performance. When my sleep starts suffering that is a major flag for me. So I am militant now about getting proper rest.”

5am routine

The core to Murphy’s approach has been to copy the habits from Robin Sharma’s book The 5am Club: Own your Morning. Elevate your Life.

The pandemic prompted him to look at changing his life and the 12- to 14-hour days he had been putting in beforehand.

He gets up at 5am every morning – including at weekends and while on holidays – spends the first 20 minutes exercising, the next 20 minutes on meditation and reflection, and the final 20 minutes on learning.

“If you do something small, but consistently, it can make massive differences. For me, this habit has made a huge difference to the amount of energy I put into every hour I work. I still deliver the same output but in less time. This has given me more time for my family and doing things in the community,” he said.

“I deliberately structure my day to fit in with my morning routine and go to bed by 9.30pm. I don’t allow meetings before 10.30am unless they’re critical. So 7.30am to 10.30am is typically my high-creativity, high-focus, high-output period. I never work for longer than an hour’s focused work without taking a 20-minute break.

“I see the mind like a muscle. Any muscle you’re training will get sore after a period of time, and you won’t get as much out of it.”

You can learn more about the Law Society’s High Impact Professional Series at www.lawsociety.ie. You can get access to the High Impact Professional Series and other wellbeing content on the LegalEd Talk Platform.

Learnskills will provide support over the Christmas break for anyone needing help accessing the LegalEd talks – email lawsociety@learnskills.ie.



Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland