Where am I going to find the time to study and create outlines for finals? I have no more time to offer to law school.
Yes, law school is very time-consuming. And all of us in law school (or who have completed law school) can agree that while in law school it feels like you work all the time.
But I am here to pose the question to you: Do you really work all the time?
Billing by the Hour
Have you ever had a job with billable hours?
I have because before I went to law school, I worked as a consultant. We didn’t bill in the six-minute increments that most law firms require. But we did have to allocate how our time was being used during the day, if I remember correctly, in half-hour increments.
When you look at your time like this, you start to realize:
Huh, I am not actually working all of the hours I am at work.
Fast-forward to life in a law firm. Hello, billable hour.
We had an electronic time clock that ran on our desktop. You clicked the start and stop button as you started a task or switched to another task. Check your personal e-mail? Stop the clock. Get coffee with your friend down the hall? Stop the clock. Take a call from a friend about dinner plans? Stop the clock.
All of a sudden you begin to realize how much time is actually spent during a day doing all sorts of things other than working.
How Are You Really Spending Your Time?
So let’s apply that to law school.
I think we can all agree that law school is a full-time job.
You should be doing at least 40 hours a week of work on being a law student, right?
So let’s start with 40 hours (keeping in mind that many law jobs require more than that). Let’s say you have 14 hours of class a week. That leaves you 26 hours to prep for class, study, and outline. Let’s say you prep for class 14 hours a week (one hour for each hour in class). You now have 12 hours left to outline and study class material.
And that is just doing 40 hours of work. What if you do 45 or 50? Wow, that is a lot of study time!
But why doesn’t it feel like you have this much time? Because law students waste time.
It’s okay — we all do it. We check e-mail, Facebook, or shop online. We talk on the phone, walk to get burritos down the street from school — you name it. But should that count as time we are working on law school? No.
I encourage you to do an experiment. Track your hours for a few days, like a lawyer. Realize how much time you spend distracted by other things.
I think you are likely going to find that you aren’t working as much as you think you are. And if that is the case, don’t worry. The good news is that you can do something about it.
Tips for Law School Time Management
What can you do?
- Well, when you are working you can turn off your wireless. No e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter. You can schedule breaks instead of taking them every 15 minutes (and yes, I do think breaks are important). But they can be every hour or so.
- You can make sure that you are studying efficiently and studying in the right way to get the most out of your study hours..
- You can set working goals for yourself and see if you can meet them. You know how lawyers have targeted billable hours? You can have targeted study hours! Decide how long you’re going to study each week, and keep track of whether you achieve your goals.
Law school is serious business, but by working more efficiently and really looking at how you spend your time, the work can become more manageable!
What time management tips work best for you?
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