There are two approaches that individuals can take when it comes to time management throughout law school – either never taking a day off or to take a day every once in a while.
For me, I am mix of the two. My 1L year, I never took time for myself and while academically I did well, I learned that having free time was important to me as I often felt exhausted/burnt out when it mattered most. Going into my second year of law school, I made sure to make time for myself a priority and by doing so, I noticed significant improvements in not only my studies but also my mood, my mental health, and my well-being.
Here are some tips that I found to be helpful in order to ensure I did not fall behind in classes while simultaneously being able to make free time in my schedule.
- Plan Out Your Free Time
- I am a HUGE planner, and having a planner – either a physical book or an electronic planner – ensures that you are able to have a space to plan out your day/ week/ month. In your planner, you are able to block out the times when you have class, when you have to study and do homework, or participate in extracurriculars. Once these times are blocked out, the rest is free time. I find that having a game plan written down at the start of the week is super helpful because I have a firm goal of getting my work done as motivation. I would recommend planning in time to do something that you truly look forward to, such as hanging out with friends, therefore, when you are tempted to take too long of a homework break, you will think about the plans you made and how you don’t want to miss out on them!
- Stop Multitasking
- During the start of 1L, I know students who would try to multitask and watch TV and read or put it off until the last minute and have to speed read in order to ensure that it was completed before class. For me, I need no distractions while I am doing homework, however, this can make the time feel like it is barely passing. One tip I use for both homework and studying is an interval timer – this way I study for twenty or thirty minutes at a time and take a five minute break. This ensures that I do not zone out while doing work and I am utilizing my time in the most productive way I can.
- Another thing I implemented during my 2L year is staying at school during the day and working on homework. This allowed me to get a majority of the tasks I needed to complete done during the day and that way when I left school, I was able to relax.
- Prioritize Your Time
- Going hand in hand with no longer multitasking, it is important to find the biggest time wasters in your day and reduce or eliminate them as much as possible. By doing this, you will be much more productive when you have to be, which will allow you to get to your free time faster.
- When thinking about the biggest time wasters in your day, start thinking about how you spend your days. For me, I love to run so it is easy for me to make that a priority. Obviously, you cannot blow off your readings, but it is important to find something that you love to do in order to give you something to look forward to. Give yourself something more exciting than just laying around and doing nothing when you’re exhausted; spend the time doing something that truly brings you joy.
- Have a “Me” Day
- I wish I could say that during law school, you are able to enjoy your entire weekend and you won’t have to think about school at all; however, that is not the case. If you prioritize your time, you should be able to have one day off per weekend to allow yourself to truly relax. Reply to those texts your ignored, meet up with friends and family, catch up on cleaning your apartment, or just sit on your couch and catch up on your favorite shows.
- By cutting down on time-wasters and remaining focused throughout the week, you will have time to take a day for yourself and you earned a day to yourself! I know it’s tempting to always feel like you’re not doing enough to make yourself worthy of being ahead of the curve, but if you are truly being productive during the week you will be fine taking one day on the weekend for yourself.