December 30, 2016

Law School Planners Under $30

Comparing and contrasting The Happy Planner, Day Designer Planner, and Passion Planner as law school planners |

Much to my surprise, my post comparing and reviewing Lilly Pulitzer, Kate Spade, Erin Condren, and Plum Paper planners for law school has turned out to be my most popular post of all time (thanks guys!!). If you haven't seen that post, go read it here and then come back here! 

And now at the suggestion of my lovely readers, I have gone out and bought three more planners to talk about! This time instead of going least to most favorite, I'll just go in the order that I bought and tried them :)  PS: This post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure by clicking here.

law school planners part 2 |

Happy Planner planner review |

The Happy Planner ($23.50

This planner is what I imagine a Plum Paper and Jumbo Lilly Planner would make as a baby. I specify the jumbo Lilly because this planner is much bigger than my Plum Paper, but oddly all three planners are about the same height (like a notebook).

The Happy Planner review |

One downside to this planner is also similar to one downside of a Lilly planner in that you always end up paying for an extra 6 months that you never use because it's an 18-month planner, which also makes this a little thicker. Another thing I'm not a fan of is that although the binding for the planner is cute with its little cutout hearts, it's kinda hard to turn the page on a plastic circle.

The Happy Planner review |

Each month starts out with this cute dashboard that shows you a little calendar, a section to jot down what your interests currently are, a section for birthdays, a section to plan out your goals, and a section for important dates. This is very similar to what you can do in a Passion Planner (more on that later).

The Happy Planner review |

The Happy Planner review |

My biggest grievance with the Lilly planner was how the weekly layout wasn't useful enough for me and that problem is solved in the Happy Planner in the same way that it's solved in my Plum Planner. In the Happy Planner, each day is divided into 3 sections but left blank so you can label them as "Morning, Afternoon, Evening" like I have in my planner, or any other three sections that you find useful such as "Class Time, Relaxation Time, Study Time." These boxes are pretty big so you shouldn't have any trouble having enough room to write out everything that you need. 

The Happy Planner review |

Besides this ideal weekly layout, my favorite thing about this planner is just how pretty it is! I'm not sure if this is because I got the watercolor and gold foil version or not, but every page is so colorful (hence why it reminded me of a Lilly planner). 

Overall, I think this planner could be summarized as being an improved Lilly planner. The weekly layouts are perfect for a busy law school schedule, but it is a very basic planner in that it's mostly just months and weeks without any extra pages for lists or notes. However, it's fairly cheap so if you can get by with just weekly scheduling then this will do just fine. 

*update* you can buy a note&graph paper add-on, a fitness planner add-on and much more

Day Designer planner review |

Day Designer ($22)

Another notebook-sized planner you guys! But this one is at least the thinnest so it doesn't take up as much room. The reason for this thinness is that it's a 12 month planner but also doesn't have any extra pages just like the Happy Planner didn't.

Day Designer planner review |

Day Designer planner review |

I think the goal of this planner is to help you focus on your goals, and does so with a little intro at the beginning. 

Day Designer planner review |

Day Designer planner review |

Day Designer planner review |

The weekly section is basically like the Erin Condren horizontal layout. Each day has 8 lines for you to write out what's on your schedule and beside that another 8 lines for a to-do list. At the bottom of each weekly layout, it also has a motivational quote and sections for the highlights of your week, notes, and what you're grateful for. 

Day Designer planner review |

For law school, I think these 8 to-do's are perfect because you can write down your reading or studying for each class and then check them off as you go. I do this anyways in my Plum Planner, but I like that there's already designated check-off boxes here. 

These weekly layouts were obviously designed with busy people in mind. There's lots of room to write down everything that you have going on in a day. Although this planner has a couple of pages in the back for notes (compared to the Happy Planner's one page), I still wish it had just a little more for the random things you end up needing to keep track of. Which brings me to the next planner....

Day Designer planner review |

Passion Planner ($30)

The Passion Planner has a lot going on, but it's a good thing. 

Passion Planner review |

Passion Planner review |

The Passion Planner is just as big as the other two planners on here, but I like how it does more with the monthly view than just put a calendar. It has a section for the month's personal and work school focuses. It has a section for people to see (I'm guessing you jot down birthdays here?). It has a section for places to go. It has a section for a not to-do list (not sure what even goes here). It has a section for personal projects, split into top and not-top priority with a place for you to list the due date. It has another section just like this but for work school projects. It has a spot for you to create a visual map of what your goals are for the month. #organized

Passion Planner review |

At the end of every month, there's also a monthly refection page with 6 writing prompts to get you thinking. 

Passion Planner review |

Passion Planner review |

The weekly layout is just as jam packet. It has a section for gratitude and a motivational quote. It has a section for your week's focus and even each day has a spot for you to write out your daily focus. It has a spot of "infinite possibility" to draw out goals or jot notes or just doodle. It also has separate personal and work school to-do lists, split into top and not-top priority and another section for errands (that's 24 to-do checkboxes). Every day is split into 30-minute increments so that you can schedule your day from 6AM to 10:30PM (like a Plum Paper hourly layout). I liked being able to write out everything that I have to do each day, but sometimes I have things that I need to get done, just not at a particular time so I ended up just writing them and ignoring the time (which kinda made the time slots pointless).

Passion Planner review |

After these, it has lots of blank pages that are great for notes or anything that you want them to be. It also has lots of pages with gridlines on them so you can graph your: budget, weight, water intake, calorie intake, mood, weather, cleaning schedule... It's a never-ending list

Passion Planner review |

Passion Planner review |

One downside to the passion planner is that the pages aren't colorful at all (which I guess could be a plus if you're a guy or not really in to color), but a lot of people remedy this by using colored pens and markers to mark this thing up. The problem is that 1. I'm not very creative or artistically gifted and 2. even if I were, I'm a busy law student so I don't have time to do this anyways. 

Another thing that wasn't my favorite was how spread out everything was. I'm not sure if this is because I ordered the undated version (I did so that I could start my planner in the middle of the month). My planner ended up being all of the months together, then all of the weeks together, then all of the blank pages and whatever I keep up with on there, and then the same for the grid pages. This resulted in me having to do a lot of flipping around and losing my page. 

I will say that out of all of the planners, this one had the most opportunity for customization and OCD organization!

Passion Planner review |

The Winner

Honestly I couldn't pick a winner. They were all basically the same except for the weekly layouts. So you'd have to decide if you want each day divided into 3 parts, into a schedule and a to-do, or into half-hour slots to know which one is the winner. I will admit that the Day Designer and Passion Planner made me wonder if next year I should change my weekly layout for my Plum Planner (still my personal favorite planner), but I haven't decided yet. 

December 9, 2016

What's In My Law School Finals Bag

what to bring to your finals. day before finals. last day study schedule. studying for finals in law school. law school finals. law school studying. law student studying. law school exams. law school tests. law school blog. law student blogger |

Well I'm in the middle of finals (currently procrastinating) and I'm sure you are too. I just thought I'd give y'all a little idea of everything that I take in to my finals so to maybe give you an idea of something to bring that you hadn't thought about

I've mentioned it before, but the tote bag really is the Swiss army knife of the adult world. It can be a purse, an overnight bag, or a backpack. I take my purse with me to finals instead of my backpack because it's smaller and I don't always go home right after finals. 

My pencil bag is the biggest thing I use during the actual final. I always make sure to bring pencils and a big eraser for my test. I also bring a highlighter or two to so I can highlight issues when I'm reading long questions. Another thing that's really a must is ear plugs. I never thought to bring ear plugs to my finals until last year they gave us some and holy crap it helps so much being in complete s i l e n c e while you're working on a test. And I know they say to use #2 pencils only on scantrons, but I've been using my click pencils on my tests for years and have never had an issue. So just in case I always keep extra lead in my pencil bag because I promise you if I don't end up needing it then one of my neighbors always do.

I keep lip balm in my pencil bag too so that it can be setting out on my desk ready if I start to get dry lips from the nerves (does this happen to anyone else?). Another weird thing that I like to bring to my finals is a pack of breath mints. They dissolve so you don't have to worry about being stuck with the same piece of gum for 4 hours, but also you can suck or bite on them and I swear moving your mouth while you think helps somehow.

And of course I have to bring my planner to make sure that I'm in the right room and also just because I take this thing everywhere with me. Another bulky thing that I always remember to pack is a water bottle with a good lid. This way, I don't get thirsty during my test but also don't have to worry about it leaking everywhere if I accidentally knock it over at some point. But of course sometimes those 8AM finals require coffee, too.

For tests that allow us to use Exam Soft, I definitely bring my laptop and charger(!!) because I've found that it's faster to type out answers than it is to write them. But for tests that we don't get to use laptops, I always bring my iPad and a pair of headphones with me so that I can last minute cram. And I record my outlines and then can listen to them on the way to the test and while I wait to go in to the exam room.

I always 100% make sure to bring my analog watch. Of course my school doesn't let me wear my Apple watch in to the test, but also some schools don't even let your bring in regular digital watches because they tend to beep and it can be annoying. If if you're not a watch person, I'd still say ask a friend if you can borrow it for a few hours and then lay it on your desk for the test. Time is the biggest enemy for law school tests so it really helps having that little reminder and way to track it right beside you. 

Probably most importantly is make sure that you bring your school ID! At least all schools at least require this but possibly also your drivers license. A good way to not remember these is to attach them to your keys with a keychain wallet. This way you can also add your debit card and grab a snack at a vending machine or like me head straight to the bars after your test.

I also pack my travel makeup bag in my bag because usually my friends and I will go out for a quick celebratory drink before dragging ourselves back to the library. My favorite mascara is Better Than Sex and their travel sized one is great to freshen up and give yourself some confidence to kick ass. I also recommend you try out these makeup remover q-tips that clean off the black smudge that forms under your eye after the stress makes you cry (kidding but not). And make sure that you bring an extra hair tie or two for if you decide to put your hair up out of your way or just in case your current one breaks.

Last but not least, bring a jacket. I've learned the hard way last year that the end of the semester is when the AC/heater is most likely to go haywire. Since it's winter, they might be blasting the heater so if you only wear a sweater you could be dying after 10 minutes. And during my spring final last year, I wore a t shirt to one test and the AC was blasting so I wore a long sleeve shirt to the next test and the AC was broken. It's best to have options.

Good luck to all of y'all still powering through finals! And if you also have something great to pack for finals (wish I would've known about earplugs earlier), please comment below!

December 4, 2016

9 Steps to Sleeping Better During Law School Finals

9 steps to sleeping better and waking up refreshed and happy. Insomnia tips. Sleep app. How to go to sleep earlier. How to get a better night's sleep. |

I know that this is a super stressful time because most likely most of your classes will depend on just one grade - your final. It sucks, it really really sucks, I know. But it will be okay and you'll get through this. Remember that it's just as hard to get an F as it is to get an A thanks to the curve. I know like half of my posts have a theme of "everything's going to be alright" because in retrospect I think that's something that I needed to here more often. 

sleep better, be happier |

You just have to get through these next few weeks. And trust me from my own mistakes, you are going to need to control your stress so that you can sleep. Not to scare you, but it's a slippery slope from getting a shitty night's sleep to being brain dead while you study to stressing out because you can't get your brain to work to not sleeping because you're stressing and it just becomes a vicious cycle. So here's how to sleep better.

1. Go to sleep one hour earlier than usual

Trust me, this one extra hour of sleep will help you so much more than one extra hour of studying. And if you really think that you need this one hour to study then I suggest you try to figure out a way to be more efficient in your studying. If you need help sticking to an earlier bedtime, you might your phone's bedtime alarm

2. Lights off

When you're studying in the evening and it gets dark, yes you'll need lots of lights on to read without straining your eyes. But as time gets closer to your (new) bedtime, start turning off the lights little by little. Usually by the time I'm about to call it quits for the night, I have all of the lights off except for my floor reading lamp and some candles. This helps my brain know that it's time to start winding down.

3. Don't fight sleepiness

I know for me at least, if I start to feel tired but then think No just study the rest of these flashcards and then sleep, by the time I'm done with the flashcards the feeling of sleepiness is gone and now I'm wide awake. The moment you start to feel tired, just accept the fact that your body needs to rest and recharge and give in to that feeling. This is the opposite of what an academic advisor would tell you because you're not being self-dedicated when it comes to your studying, but those cards will still be there tomorrow and most likely this won't make you fall behind in your study plan. This is when I began to realize the true benefits of studying in advance for finals rather than cramming :D

4. Be ready for bed

Normally during my study breaks I'll clean up a little around the house or do a few chores. But once it starts getting within a few hours of my bed time, I'll use these breaks to remove my makeup, wash my face, change in to pajamas... you get it. This way when the feeling of sleepiness does come, all I have to do is turn off the few lights and go straight to bed. If I'm not already ready for sleep, then I end up waking myself up going through my bedtime routine. 

5. Try some sleep aids

This is especially important if, for example, you used to go to bed at midnight and now you're trying to be asleep by 10. Sometimes you just need a little help. You can try a glass of wine, but just make sure that it's enough to make you tipsy sleepy but without being so much that the sugar makes you bloated/uncomfortable or actually drunk (you don't go into the REM cycle like you're supposed to when you're drunk). Or you could try taking a few melatonin pills durning a final study break to help make you sleepy. If you're really stressed and not sleeping or just in general have a problem with falling asleep, you can try something like Simply Sleep to help you fall asleep fast. The only problem that I've had with these are that you really need to get a full night's rest after taking them or you'll wake up feeling groggy. But for the sake of your body, don't try to do more than one at once!

6. Adjust the temp

Here is the coziest way that I've found to fall asleep. Bump your AC down a few degrees colder than you normally keep it. Either turn on a heated mattress pad or warm up a blanket in the drier and spread it out on top of your fitted sheet. Then when you go to bed, you'll have a cool room and a warm bed so it just makes you want to snuggle up and sleep like a baby. To keep from getting sweaty, I always turn off my mattress pad before I sleep. Then when I wake up, I have a cold bed and a warm room so it makes me want to get out of bed.

7. Make it pitch black

The bedroom in my last apartment was so bright from street lights that I could never fall asleep. So my mom bought me some blackout curtains and omg it helped so much. I never realized how total darkness can help you sleep so well. Just be careful with these though. My friend stayed over one night and the next day was a little cloudy so my room was dark all day and she accidentally slept for like 12 hours because her body was used to the sun waking her up. If you don't want to swap out your curtains, I bought this eye mask to sleep on long flights but I also use it for daytime naps because it seriously blocks out some light.

8. Add some noise

While it sounds counterintuitive because noise usually makes it hard to sleep, this could help! If you use a white noise app or machine, your body will get used to this soft sound and your ears will actually start to tune it out. Since your ears are kind of "turned off," they'll be less likely to pick up on the sound of your neighbor's voices through the walls or the slamming of a door. Basically, it just keeps you from waking up in the middle of the night thanks to assholes.

9. Track your sleep 

Ok so tbh after downloading this sleeping app I became *obsessed* with it and tell everyone to download it. You open this app and then you keep your phone nearby as you go to sleep. Then your phone will either track your movement or your sounds. Basically no movement/sounds from you = deep sleep; movement/sounds = light sleep. The app will consider the window which you said you want to wake up during, and will make sure to wake you up during your light sleep so that it feels more natural to you. 

It's so effective that the alarm sound is a quiet strumming since you don't need a blaring alarm to get you out of deep sleep. But if you're not quite ready to get up, all you have to do is nudge your phone a little (not even open an eye to press a button!) and then it'll snooze. Afterwards, your phone will show you how you slept throughout the night and show you the quality of your sleep in a percentage. Just tracking your sleep like this can help you be aware of how well you're actually sleeping.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few steps that have really helped me improve my sleep, but I really hope they help you! School is enough of a stress so you don't need to add more to it by not resting your brain properly at night! 

PS - here's proof that I've actually been putting a lot of thought into this for some time 

sleep better, be happier |

sleep better, be happier |