We can all agree that law students are busy. Classes, reading, student organizations, job searching, jobs… it is definitely a lot to manage. Toss in preparation for finals and a lot of people get panicked. And panic is the worst thing when you are trying to efficiently focus and absorb large amounts of information.
The following are some tips and strategies which can help you manage your time effectively.
Delete, delete, delete! Drop everything non-essential. The end of the semester is not the time to start your holiday shopping or to declutter your kitchen. If you are involved in student organizations, defer tasks and meetings to January if feasible. Procrastination can steal valuable time, and it often manifests itself as a bunch of unimportant tasks and projects which suddenly seem important, allowing you an “out” from your studying. Resist the distractions. If something comes up, just take a second to jot down the chore somewhere for later reminder, acknowledge the distraction for what it is, and move on with your plan.
Time budget. When you feel like you have too much to do, start doing a budget. Out of each day, I need 8 hours of sleep, leaving me with 16 hours. I am in class for 6 hours, leaving me 10, I eat for 1 hour, leaving me 9, I need a half an hour for commuting time, leaving 8.5… etc. You will see how many hours you have available for study, and can use that to plan out your strategy.
Timemap. Once you’ve done your time budget, it can be helpful to create a timemap to show yourself where you are spending your time. Essentially take your waking hours and block off what you are doing during them. Use color-coding to establish class time, study time, personal time, commuting time… whatever categories make sense to you. This should not take long and you can do it on paper or in Excel. Just get yourself a roadmap for how you are going to allocate the time of your days. Then stick to it.
It may be worthwhile to try out some apps to manage or minimize distractions. An example is Freedom which allows you to set periods of time when distracting apps, websites, or even the entire internet will be blocked.
Different people learn differently. For some of us, a visual image is the best learning tool. For others, listening to spoken information is more effective. Some people focus best early in the morning, others find their focus later in the day or even late at night. Manage your time and study techniques to leverage your unique learning strengths.
Lastly, always leave some time to relax and focus on you. Schedule time to take a walk, go to the gym, socialize, read, or whatever will give your mind some time to unwind and refresh.