We’ve all done it. We put off a project until it looms over us, casting its guilt-inducing shadow all around us until we just can’t stand ignoring it any longer. Then, we firmly resolve to just get it over with. With the best intentions, we clear our desks, sit down at our computers, and then almost instantaneously fall prey to the multitude of eye-catching distractions online: the news, social media, e-mail.
Every link we click transports us to fresh, colorful new pages which seem even more intriguing than the last! Maybe it goes a little something like this:
I really need to read for Civ. Pro. [read for 5 minutes] Hmm … “stare decisis” is an interesting phrase, I wonder how you’re actually supposed to pronounce that anyway? [google etymology of stare decisis]. Is it “starry” like Starry Night? Man, I love that painting! [google Vincent Van Gogh art] Wow, these are beautiful! Maybe I should make a painting my new desktop background? [search high resolution impressionist art images.] Oh, that reminds me, I need to upload those pics I took [go into photos folder and start sorting]. Wow, this is a great one! I should send this to my sister [e-mail sister]. And my best friend [text best friend]. And post it on facebook [spend 2 hours checking every single thing on facebook] … [and Instagram] … [and twitter].
And down the rabbit hole we plunge. Before we know it, the entire day has slipped away, you have your very own starry night outside, and the Civ. Pro. reading is still undone. In this situation, shutting off the Internet altogether can be appealing, but it can leave us feeling like we are missing out. Besides, half the time, you really need online capabilities to conduct Lexis or Westlaw research, access TWEN, and look up legitimate legal definitions, like what stare decisis actually means—not just how to say it. If the undoubtedly ridiculous chain of procrastination above sounds more familiar than you’d like to admit, you need to get that in check. Right now. So, what can you do? How about downloading a little self-control.
Apps to Help You Manage Your Study Time
There are several free apps that actually block you from accessing your e-mail and social media accounts, or any other internet sites you designate. The way these programs work is that you set a time limit, press go, and effectively lock yourself out of your chosen kryptonite web pages and throw away the key (for about 90 minutes or so at a time). It’s sort of like TV parental controls designed to confine kids to the ever benign Big Bird and keep them away from the completely terrifying The Birds. As one of our students mentioned just this week, software like this can do a great job of forcing you into using other time management techniques that may be too difficult to stick to without a little help, such as the circles method.
Here are a few to try out:
It is now December! Exams are right around the corner. If you have a lot of free hours in the day right now, chances are, you aren’t doing enough to prepare for finals. Prioritize finishing those outlines, setting aside time to actually memorize them, and most importantly, doing practice exams! If you have a sneaking suspicion that you’re ill-equipped to handle the attractive nuisance that is the internet, set up some firm safeguards and rules for how you’re spending your day. No time to lose!
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And check out these helpful posts:
- Can You Fake It Till You Make It With Law School Final Exams?
- A New Time Management Technique I’m Trying
- How the Internet Can Kill My Productivity
- 6 Must-Have iPhone and iPad Apps for Productive Law Students
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Yes! I find apps like these really helpful when I need to meet self-imposed deadlines. I like the Chrome Strict Workflow extension — super useful.