I must say, I pride myself at being pretty good about guessing how long something will take me. I can guess that it will take me three hours to put together a presentation or an hour to write a blog post. But in law school, I must admit, I was not as good about this. Why? Well, I was doing tasks that I had never done before! So my educated guesses as to how long things were going to take me weren’t so “educated!”
This can be challenging especially when you are taking classes where you are working on papers or projects. Let me share with you a story from my last year of law school.
At my law school I took a course called Federal Courts. We didn’t have a final exam in this class; instead we had three papers to complete at three different points in the semester. My first paper was due on a Tuesday at the end of February.
Now typically, I knew how long a paper was going to take me. But I will be honest; these papers were more challenging than most, both because of the class and because there was a strict length requirement (shorter than I would have liked it to be!). But since I hadn’t done one before, I left myself what I assumed was plenty of time to finish it. Now why was this important?
Well, my now-husband was coming back from being out of the country for a month —just two days before this paper was due. I was pretty excited that he was coming home and the last thing I wanted to do was work on a Federal Courts paper when he got back to town. So my goal was to finish it before his flight landed.
It was a good goal, but really I underestimated this project. I was working on it up to the moment I needed to leave for the airport, and it still wasn’t done. So after spending some time together right after he got home, I had to get back to work to finish this bloody paper to turn it in on time. I must admit—I was pretty annoyed with myself. What was more important to me, working on my assignment or spending time with my boyfriend who had been halfway around the world for a month?
So what is the lesson here? Well, there are a few important lessons we can take away.
First, when you are doing something new, don’t underestimate how long the project will take. You don’t know enough to make an educated guess. Sometimes if it takes longer than you planned, it is no big deal. But sometimes it means that you miss a deadline (which can be a very bad thing).
Second, a little self-discipline and working ahead of time can allow you to better balance law school and life! If I had just been smarter about managing my time, I would have been able to finish my paper and spend the time with my boyfriend when he got back to town. So I was the one who lost out by procrastinating. By being smart about setting timelines and goals, it is likely you can make time for the things that are important to you, even during law school.
Have you been surprised at how long a law school project has taken you? Any tips to share? Please leave them in the comments.
Check out these other helpful posts:
- A New Time Management Technique I’m Trying
- Pay attention in class, it can save you time!
- How the Internet Can Kill My Productivity
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