time management as a law student

there's no doubt about it. you have to be an expert at time management in order to succeed at law school. having a busy undergrad major might prepare you for the busyness of it all, but not for the mental demands on top of it. I should also mention that many of these tips I'm about to share have fallen into my arsenal because I did NOT do them well during 1L, and have had to adjust and correct for 2L fall (and now 2L spring). this is about to be a bit of a long post, but I truly believe in all 10 tips I'm about to share!

1. without a planning system of some sort, you will die. usually in undergrad I'd have a planner that I would gradually stop using by the end of the semester, and I'd switch to random post-its, disjointed to-do lists, or my own memory. that worked (mostly) for undergrad - it does NOT for law school. you have readings, events, tests, papers, and jobs, among other things, to keep track of, and I can guarantee that you will absolutely not be able to keep it all in your brain. I used a planner last year, I've used mostly google calendar this year, and I might use a different tool next year - whatever works for you, use it. if you think you'll remember it, you won't. write it down somewhere. anywhere. do your future self a favor.

2. block your time. it is always super helpful for me to give myself time blocks when planning. I have all my assignments laid out and figure out which day I can do which readings, and if it's a longer reading, I try not to leave it until the night before. I know that my family law reading takes forever because it's only once-a-week, and I know I have to do it over the weekend because I'm at work all day on Tuesdays up until class starts at 6:15pm. I usually do all of my Wednesday homework on Monday afternoons (and sometimes Wednesday mornings) because I don't have time Tuesdays until 9:30pm and I know my brain will be fried from work all day AND family law right afterwards. you'll figure out your own schedule as you go; for me, I usually end up doing a majority of my reading over the weekend and the smaller assignments or pieces I didn't get to during the week. some people like keeping their weekends completely open and working like dogs during the week. it is a totally personal thing, and there's no right or wrong method.

3. if you work, make sure your employer knows that you are a law student. my boss is great about giving me days off when I really need to study or have a ton going on. using all 3 of your sick days during finals week doesn't look as good as letting your employer know in advance when your busy periods are. communication is key.

4. set aside an hour or so a week just for planning. giving yourself a routine check-in so you can see what's ahead for next week, what goals you're setting for yourself, if/how you accomplished your goals for this week, and what random errands, appointments, and meetings you have outside of your regularly hectic schedule will help you SO much. to be honest, most of time management is just finding time to plan and then sticking to that plan.

5. have a morning routine. mine consists of reading my bible, journaling, listing 5 things I'm grateful for and my goals in my start today journal, doing about 10-15 minutes of duolingo, and then playing on Peak, an app that's designed to help you exercise your brain, and then I take my dog for a walk. my routine is a mix of things that are important to me: my faith, my opportunity to clear my mind from a journaling brain dump, re-centering on the things that I'm grateful for, where I want to be, and then just doing something fun (learning german), and wrapping up by waking up my brain and moving my body and spending quality time with my fluff son. I usually call my parents while we walk too. after my morning routine is over, I get ready for the day and feel ready to tackle it. I will probably end up doing a post just on my morning routine in the future, but for now, know that starting your morning with a ritual that brings you joy is critical to having a positive mindset moving forward.

6. find ways to destress and decompress that aren't binge-watching netflix. find rest in hanging out with friends, hiking, playing with your dog, reading a fun book, baking, crafting, blogging, whatever it may be. netflix is great (also I'm always looking for recs!), but if you start feeling like that's the one part of your day you enjoy, you need a change. think back to what you loved doing before law school. think back to what you love doing now but don't feel like you have time for, and make time for it, even if it's just once a month to start.

7. get yourself an accountability partner. it's so easy to give up on your goals when no one but you knew that you had them in the first place. the simple solution is to let other people know what you want to accomplish and how you're going to do it - and then ask them to partner with you. it's way easier to set up a time to plan your week if it's a weekly bagel date with your best friend. it's way easier to have a morning routine if you know your mom will call you out on it when you don't call her that day. it's way easier to exercise when you get to check in with your accountability group every day (don't have an exercise routine? ask me about mine - I have an awesome group of girls who check in with each other every single day). two huge ways to skyrocket your likelihood of accomplishing your goals is (1) writing them down, and (2) telling other people about them. don't do this journey alone.

8. be where your feet are. perhaps you've heard this before, but it essentially means to be fully present wherever you are. don't have your feet at the library and your head in travel plans for spring break. don't be trying to relax and be stressing about next week's midterm. keep your space clean, including your mind, by committing to being 100% where you're supposed to be in that moment. I mess this one up all the time, and so will you, but it's a simple way to prioritize your time management - when you say you're going to be studying, don't study for 5 minutes and then drift off to instagram. fully enjoy your instagram time by saving for an hour when you don't have to focus on anything but that.

9. don't be afraid to say no to things. time management is arranging your schedule so you can say yes to things you want to say yes to, but it's also learning how to stand up for YOUR priorities and turning down the things that don't advance your goals, your mental health, or your dreams. I hate saying no to things, but think of saying "no" as freeing yourself to say yes to something else, even if you don't know what it is yet.

10. don't beat yourself up. you're always going to finish out a semester (or even a day, week, or month) thinking, "what the heck just happened?" you're going to come up with a million different ways that you could've not been as lazy, where you could have studied more, how you could've gotten a B+ instead of a B on that one memo. stop. give yourself some grace, and give yourself permission to take a rest and a deep breath. hindsight's 20/20. use your unhappiness with your current habits to propel you into a better year instead of just beating yourself up over what could've been.

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