Despite the stereotype of the type-A, high strung law student, many law students struggle with time management and procrastination. You may find yourself procrastinating for a variety of reasons: boredom or disinterest in the subject matter, an aversion to the type of work, a fear of failure, a sense of being overwhelmed by the difficulty of the task, or simply an unrealistic understanding of your own skill level and the amount of time an assignment requires. But regardless of your reasons for procrastinating, you have to find a way to overcome it.
Although habitual procrastinators are often able to find ways to rationalize their behavior by telling themselves things like “I work better under pressure” or “I’m definitely going to start this first thing tomorrow,” we all know that our work product will be better and our life will be less stressful if we don’t wait until the last minute.
Procrastination is particularly detrimental in law school for a few reasons. First, the sheer amount of reading, writing and studying required in law school makes it difficult, if not impossible, to ever completely catch up if you find yourself getting behind. Second, legal concepts tend to build on each other and develop over the course of a semester, so if you put off your reading or studying you may find yourself getting lost when more advanced topics are introduced. Lastly, law school exams generally test your critical thinking and analytical skills, which, unlike exams that simply test your ability to memorize and recite facts, you really can’t “cram” for at the last minute.
So what’s a procrastinating law student to do? Procrastination is a tough habit to break, but one strategy you should try is the 10-minute technique. The 10-minute technique is particularly helpful if you are struggling with a large, challenging project like creating a course outline or completing a difficult brief.
The 10 minute technique is extremely simple, but also effective. Just tell yourself that you’re going to work on this project for 10 minutes. Anyone can do something for a mere 10 minutes, right? Once the ten minutes are up, evaluate how you’re feeling and ask yourself if you can work on it for just 10 more minutes. If you get in a good flow, keep going.
Even if you find that you didn’t accomplish very much in that 10 minutes and even if you can’t force yourself to keep working, at least you will have done something! No matter how small the progress, it’s better than nothing. And chances are, it will be just a little bit easier to resume working on the project.
The 10-minute technique is an effective strategy for combatting procrastination because it forces you to get started. Often, starting a task that we’re dreading or intimidated by is the hardest part of the project, but the 10-minute technique can help you get this difficult hurdle out of the way. The technique also breaks the work down into manageable time periods that are less overwhelming and completely attainable. Moreover, because working on a task for only ten minutes is so manageable, it eliminates excuses and encourages self-discipline.
Successful lawyers are productive, efficient, and consistently doing great work. You need those same qualities to be a successful law student, so if you tend to procrastinate, it’s important to start learning some strategies to break that tendency. The 10-minute technique is one strategy you can use to help you stop procrastinating and start working!
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