Welcome to Ahead of the Curve, our new series for incoming 1Ls. We’re getting lots of questions about what law school to attend, how to pay for it, and what people can be doing now to set themselves up for success in law school. Stay tuned, and be sure to sign up for our free mailing list and check out the Start Law School Right course to ensure you’re ready to go on Day One!
Are you feeling lost in a sea of law school work? Falling behind on your assignments? In this post, we cover what you should be doing to be productive and share a few tools that can help you stay on track.
Focus On The Basics
Focusing on basic parts of law school life will keep you productive and save you time. This includes the small things like completing your morning routine, going to class, and studying. If you are off your routine, you will likely get stuck in a constant cycle of making up for things you forgot to do.
Actively reviewing is another key component of staying productive in law school. Creating attack plans, for example, will keep you engaged while studying. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by complicated sample questions, make an attack plan: what is the question asking? How many parts are in the question? What law needs to be covered? Answering these questions and outlining an answer will help you own the topic and stop wasting time worrying about it.
Taking notes, making outlines, and annotating supplements are all basic study tasks that will keep you on track and make you feel productive. Getting into a habit of completing these tasks is immensely helpful.
If you feel off track, you need to know what track you want to be on! The first step to doing that is knowing what you need to accomplish. Here’s a list of what you should be doing in a typical week:
Don’t underestimate how much time this takes. The more cases you read, the faster you will get. It is important to actively read cases and the textbook to pick up on the ins and out of legal writing. And if you are going to make an outline for a chapter in the textbook, you will save time by having read through it at least once already!
Case briefing can be tedious, time-consuming, and the payoff isn’t always obvious. But, for many students, it is the best way to breakdown a case into easily digestible key sections and facts. Case briefing is key in many law school situations, but if you have your doubts, check out this post.
This means going over your notes after class and starting to pick out the important parts. Debriefing gives you the opportunity to synthesize all the material you learn throughout the semester as you learn it, rather than all at once before an exam. Investing a few minutes to debrief yourself after a class will pay enormous dividends in the long run!
Creating outlines, hypos, attack plans, etc. all take-up time and thought. You need to make time for your brain to stop working and start reflecting on everything. In one hour of studying, you shouldn’t be spending the whole hour with your nose to the paper – you need to sit back and think everything through.
This is important for studying and holding yourself accountable – if you know you are going to see the professor, you will prepare for it. And by prepare we don’t mean going into ask for the question on the final: go in with developed and educated questions that will help you better understand the case.
If you are not making room for some down time, all your hard work will catch up to you in a bad way sooner than later. Counterbalance the inherent stress and daily competition of law school with activities like yoga, walking, or anything else that keeps you active and doing things that are not law school.
Yes, eating is important, and eating healthily is even more important. Start your day off with breakfast, snack smart and healthy, stay hydrated and keep your protein intake high since it will give you longer lasting energy.
You may have gotten away with a few hours a night as an undergraduate, but law school will be more demanding on you mentally and physically. Sleep! Research shows that sleep plays a key role in memory, motivation, and judgement. You need all those things in law school, so aim for 6-8 hours a night.
Technology can be your study friend. Here are a few favorite applications for your phone that can help you get on top of your schedule and stay on top of it.
Google Calendar Goals
This is our top recommendation for apps that help you manage your time! With Google calendar goals, you tell the app what you need to do and how often you need to do it, it will find and point out times in your various calendars and schedules that you have free. All you need to do is set a goal, tell the app how often you would like to work on it, and what times work best. Then, magically, the app will find time in your calendars and block them for working on your goal! The app will alert you when it is time to work and you can easily to reschedule if you’re busy. Download Google Calendar for iPhone
One of the firsts steps to better time management is understanding how you spend your time. The popular app RescueTime runs in the background on your computer tracking how much time you spend on various applications and websites. You can set it up to alert you when you spend a certain amount of time on an activity, and it can even block certain websites (Facebook, admit it) for a certain period of time so you can focus! Start using RescueTime here.
EasilyDo is a personal assistant app that automates everyday tasks to saves you time and effort. Some of its coolest features are intuitive reminders about upcoming events, location based reminders, and email management that analyzes and prioritizes emails that require a response. You can find out more about this smart app here.
This app is really incredible. By connecting your service providers, banks, social networks, and more, it alerts you when you have to do those basic tasks that you may forget about while you’re busy with law school! Add notes, check of a to-do list, manage a calendar – all is possible with the 24me app. Check it out here!
Be Honest With Yourself
You know what you have to do. You have the apps to make sure you do it. The missing piece is knowing yourself. If you work best in the morning, don’t pull an all-nighter.
We hope this post will get you refocused and back on track!
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.
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