I love technology. Often, my husband and I will be at home on the couch each of us with our laptops open, typing away. Even my cat loves technology. If I open the DVD player, he runs over to watch the tray go in and out. Technology is great; it keeps us connected, helps us do our work, type, and create pretty documents, you name it.
However, when it comes to law school, for most of us, technology is not our friend.
Technology can be a distraction in the classroom.
When I was in undergrad, I never used to take my laptop to class (it was heavy and clunky — I know, I am dating myself). In law school, I used to take notes on the computer, but for my first year there was no wireless Internet in the classrooms, so there was no email or online nonsense to distract me (no Facebook, shopping, etc.). However, if I had it to do over again, I would leave the laptop in my bag and instead go “old school” and handwrite my class notes.
Why is handwriting a good idea? Typing out notes can create a few issues.
- First, we tend to overdo the note taking and transcribe everything that is being covered in class. Thus, instead of listening and learning, we are trying to experience class as a court reporter experiences the courtroom — by taking down every word.
- Second, many of us don’t learn this way and after class we realize that we didn’t process anything that was said in class. If you are handwriting notes, you have to process the information to determine what to write down. Most people find that this makes following class easier and that they actually learn more. Nifty, right? It is almost like getting what you are paying for!
And we haven’t even talked much about the Internet being a distraction in class. You know, as much as we claim to be fantastic multitaskers, most of us are not. We perform better doing one thing at a time. So instead of answering emails, reading online news, or chatting with a friend — how about just paying attention in class? I am going to guess you will get more out of it. Leaving the computer at home or at least in your backpack will allow you to do just one thing at a time and in class you want to be learning and listening. That is plenty to do without reading People.com.
Also, this is something to try if you find that you have any type of ADD or ADHD. The first thing I recommend to a student who struggles with an attention deficit disorder is to say goodbye to the laptop in class. And almost everyone says that removing distractions and just paying attention helps. So why not give it a try?
Note: This rule likewise applies to cell phones and iPads. You don’t need to be communicating with anyone else during class. You can unplug for a few hours. Really, the world will go on without you.
Technology can make it hard to study, because to learn we need to focus.
This is a lesson that I learn over and over again. When I sit down and do just one thing, work on one project or write one blog post, I am more efficient and get more work done. When I interrupt myself with texts, emails, or the Internet, well, then, productivity gets interrupted. I have to regroup each time I come back to the project and I lose my train of thought.
Law school is academically challenging. You are learning a ton of new stuff and working really hard. You want to get the most bang for your buck during your study time. So, would you be more productive and get more out of your time if you just turned off your wireless and put your phone on silent? My guess is you would! What do you have to lose by giving it a try?
It is hard to remember, but there was a time when people didn’t get immediate responses via email or text. As much as we may think we must be responsive at all times, for many of us, law school is one of those times to hold off and be a bit non-responsive. There are no clients or supervising attorneys waiting for a reply. You are in law school to learn and absorb. And to do that, you need to take a break from technology.
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Here are some other helpful posts:
- 0L to 1L – Hey, Do You Know How to Memorize Stuff?
- How the Internet Can Kill My Productivity
- Tech Correspondent: My Love Affair with Microsoft OneNote
- A New Time Management Technique I’m Trying
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