I used to think that being a law student was the most time sucking activity one could possibly engage in. You can easily create a 48 hour day by going to class, reviewing your class notes, outlining your classes, studying your commercial outline, taking practice exams, and going to office hours to talk to professors about things you don’t understand.
I was wrong. Although going to law school is a major time suck, I have discovered that for me, most of my friends, and many law students, being on the internet is the most time sucking activity in their lives. After all, there is just so much to do on the internet. You can follow other people and see what they are doing. You can update your own status on your own social media site. The posting possibilities are endless. You can tweet, retweet, blog, comment, read other peoples’ comments, comment on other people’s comments, check your various news feeds, check the same news feeds 5 minutes later, post a picture, post a video, etc. etc. Before you know it, several hours are gone, and your time management strategy has suffered a major blow.
Few people (myself included) are willing or able to quit the internet entirely. However, if you follow the suggestions below, you can easily add several more hours to your day:
1. Take a Leave of Absence From Social Media
Stop using social media during your exam preparation period. You don’t have to entirely close your social media accounts. Instead, just create a post or message explaining that you are going into a period where you will need to intensely focus on your studies and will not have time to keep up to date on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, whatever.
Taking a leave of absence will give you more time than deciding to check social media “only once a day” or “only after I finish studying.” Using social media “only a little bit” is like trying to eat “only a little bit” of your favorite dessert. You take a small bite and that delicious dessert is still sitting there in front of you, and before you know it you take another little small bite and in the end you wind up eating the whole dessert.
The same thing happens on social media. You sign on just to see the latest updates, and you see something and decide you have to comment or otherwise respond to it, or you need to check something else quickly, and before you know it three hours are gone.
Of course you will need to monitor whatever social media or email or other electronic platform your law school and law professors use to communicate with you. Aside from those sources, take a leave of absence.
2. News Blackout
Quit watching or reading or following the news until after your exams are finished.
Unfortunately, most news sources present much more negative than positive news. Do you find it stressful or soothing to find out about horrific traffic accidents, people starving or dying or fleeing war zones?
If you feel guilty about not following the news, ask yourself the following question: am I, personally, going to do something right now to help or fix whatever problem I am reading about? If the answer is no, what is the point in stressing out by reading the news?
You need to remain as calm as possible during your exam preparation and exam period. For most people, reading the parade of disasters presented as news is not calming. Get rid of the parade.
3. Set Tungsten Boundaries On Electronic Communications
Texts and emails have become so much a part of our lives that we really can’t take a leave of absence from these communications without risking missing a really important communication from close friends or family. Therefore, a leave of absence or complete blackout will not work. Instead we are going to use boundaries.
A boundary is a limit. Tungsten is the strongest natural metal in the world. You are going to need to use tungsten boundaries to prevent email, texts and other electronic communications from sucking up your precious times.
There are three ways you can set tungsten boundaries:
First, set a boundary on yourself. You are only going to check emails and texts once (or if you must twice) a day. Think back on the texts and emails you received last year. How many of the texts or emails were true emergencies that you needed to respond to right away? I mean true emergencies by your standards, not by the standards of the sender of the text or email. You may have a special situation, like a pregnant spouse or a very ill relative where you will need to check texts or answer calls promptly. In that case, set your device to make a special sound or signal when the text is from someone in a true health or other precarious situation.
Second, set a boundary on other people. Explain to people that you really need to focus on your studies right now and ask them not to text you or email you unless it is an emergency, or, in the case of a trusted family member or friend, truly important.
Third, for those of your acquaintances who think that everything that happens in their lives is an urgent emergency, just don’t respond to their texts or emergencies. If that doesn’t stop them, consider blocking their communications to you, at least temporarily.
A final comment. I don’t mean to imply that using the internet is a wholly negative thing. Using social media correctly can be tremendously advantageous to law students. Just make sure that you and your family and friends use it in a way that supports you in doing your best in law school.
Looking for some help to do your best in law school? Find out about our law school tutoring options.