The ability to maintain focus and attention for extended periods of time is essential for success in law school, and yet I’ve noticed it’s a skill that is becoming increasingly difficult for everybody in the modern world to perform. Law students are living in a world of constant distractions: notifications and alerts from smartphones; a steady stream of emails to send and respond to; and an infinite number of online resources. With all of these distractions and demands on their attention, law students must also be able to prepare for class by reading and briefing cases; pay attention during 1-2 hour long classes; and, perhaps most importantly, spend time outside of class learning hundreds of rules of law and then figuring out how all of these rules relate to each other when analyzing an exam fact pattern.
Since the ability to maintain focus and attention underlies pretty much everything students have to do to succeed in law school (and also because I’m frightened by my own inability to focus long enough to read a New York Times article from beginning to end), I did some research into what science has to tell us about improving focus and attention. What I found out is that the ability to pay attention and focus for long periods of time is a like a muscle: if you don’t exercise that muscle, it atrophies, while if you exercise the muscle regularly, it gets stronger and builds endurance. So you may be asking, how do I create a workout schedule for exercising my attention and focus muscles? Here are a few pointers: