Recently, a post on this website highlighted ways to manage your time in law school. Efficiently managing my time in school has been a lot of trial and error but here’s some insight into what has worked best for me.
Lying to Myself About When Work Is Due
I believe I do my best work under pressure, which means the only way I’ll get work done is if I think a deadline is rapidly approaching. However, I’m also well aware that not spacing my time out is an awful idea that produces lower quality work than what I’m capable of and gives me unneeded stress. To fight this, I lie to myself about when work is due.
This generally means writing a deadline in my planner that is a week earlier than it should be and setting aside a chunk of time to work on it each day. It also means being realistic about assignments. Once I understood how long it took for me to complete projects and reading for class, I was able to allot my time correctly. Using this approach works for me because I still feel enough pressure to do work but also give myself additional time to go back and revise.
Use My Breaks In Between Classes
Several of my classmates worked for a few years before coming to law school and even though they’re now inside of a classroom, instead of a cubicle, they still treat law school like a job. I used to love going home after my 9 AM for a “well deserved” 2-hour nap, but this just meant I’d have to put in two extra hours of studying after my 7 PM class which I’m usually too exhausted to do. I began treating law school like a job, which means I’m studying in between classes.
Currently, I set my ‘work’ schedule from 8-6, and it helps me organize what I need to get done and gives me a deadline of when I should start working and when I can stop. This approach sets boundaries as to when I should be in ‘school mode’ and when I can be in ‘relax mode,’
Staying On A Set Schedule
Like the majority, I have a love/hate relationship with technology and as hard as I try, I can’t seem to get away from my phone. After trying many techniques, I found the Pomodoro technique works best for me.
This method uses a timer to break down work into intervals, separated by short breaks and is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility. You can adjust the intervals but I work for 30 minutes and then take a 5-minute break. This approach best fits my personality because I’ll actually focus for 30 minutes knowing I’ll have a five-minute break to check my phone to the zero messages I have waiting for me. I use the FocusList app for this technique, but you can use something as cost effective as the timer on your phone.
Spend Money When I Need To
Speaking of cost effective, while I appreciate the financial hardship law school puts on students, I also believe it’s okay to splurge if it benefits your overall learning. For example, I hate exercising – especially on a treadmill – so the gym is not somewhere I’m super psyched to go. However, I do recognize how important exercise is for your body and your brain and love class settings where I’m forced to move for an hour so I pay monthly for a Pilate’s class.
While at first I felt guilty about paying a monthly rate for exercise when I could do it for free at my university gym, the class keeps me accountable and pretty much guarantees I’ll get in my daily exercise. In summary, yes, I’m spending money to exercise, but it’s abetting my studying and sleep schedule. For how much I’m gaining from it, I think it’s more than worth it.
Accepting I Am Not A Robot
In law school, life can seem so formulaic. You wake up, go to class, study, eat dinner, study some more, go to sleep and then repeat the cycle all over again the next day. The problem with this is, you’re not a machine and you need to take breaks to do things you want – whether it’s spending time with your family or just going to a movie. Setting aside time for yourself will help you in the long run in school.
For example, I initially wrote this blog post at night after a long day of class. The next morning, I went to open the document, and it no longer existed on my computer.
This incident was incredibly frustrating because I felt I had completely wasted my time. However, instead of throwing my computer from my balcony or going to work on my next assignment, I decided to take a mental health break and called a friend I hadn’t talked to for a while. This was wonderful because it helped refocus my negative energy and put my “bad luck” in perspective.
Ultimately, there are many ways to manage your time, and it’s ok if the process is a lot of trial and error until you find what works for you.
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