It is inevitable. As surely as the sun will rise, someone will ask "How is business?" And the eventual answer, no matter the chit chat that takes place, is always "Busy."
I am always busy. No matter who is asking, I am always busy. The truth is, I have plenty of work to do, but when I went out on my own I made a promise to myself that I would set a schedule and stick to it. I do not see potential clients outside of my posted business hours. I am a little more lenient with rules when it comes to actual clients, but that is very dependant on the circumstances of that client.
I also make myself take time off at least three times a year: the first week of May, the first week of October, and the last two weeks of the year.
So why do I always tell people I'm busy? Because it seems successful to be busy. Successful lawyers are busy lawyers and I want people to know I am a successful lawyer. I do not know where I even learned this but it is now a habit, an automatic habit. But I am not frantically busy; I am never so busy that I do not have time to chat or listen to a story or help with a problem. And I am definitely not too busy to consider a new client matter. I may been once upon a time, but I left that life behind.
So how much business has gone elsewhere because I made it seem that there was no more room on my desk for a new file because of a casually overstated schedule? Did my response to a seemingly polite query make me seem frantic and overwhelmed and send a potential big file elsewhere? I see it all around me in colleagues who are always rushing to and fro. It seems a pandemic among lawyers.
There is a balance to be struck between the go-go lifestyle people expect of successful lawyers and a balanced yet successful lifestyle that leads to greater fulfillment. A lot of it has to do with appearing relaxed and confident. And whatever appearance we adopt tends to become truth to both ourselves and others. So slow down and relax; you passed the bar and you know what you're doing. Don't let people think you are overwhelmed or frantic (unless you are, in which case you should seek help), but instead appear relaxed and confident. You can always tell them you have too much on your plate to give them the attention they deserve once you hear what they want from you.