September 1, 2017

How to Have Free Time in Law School

How to have free time in law school. How to have a life outside of law school. How to enjoy weekends in law school. How to find free time in a busy schedule. Time management in law school. How to have fun in law school. |

During law school orientation as a 1L, our Dean of Academic Success told us that he never took a day off studying and warned us that if we did, we'd get behind. And then when I went to orientation when I transferred my 2L year, our Dean for Student Life told us to take a day off from studying or else we'll get burned out. I definitely agree with what I heard my 2L year! In fact, I know of a few people who quit law school because they just couldn't stand how law school had taken over their lives. And to get serious on you real quick, this is how some students end up getting depressed. You have to take some time for yourself! But also you don't want to get behind, so here's what I do.

Plan out your free time

I mentioned this in my post about setting up your planner because I really think it helps. In your planner, block out when you'll be in class and when you have to study, and then the rest is free time! I find it's super helpful to have that goal written down as motivation. Conversely, when I'm tempted to take too long of a study break I use it to remind myself that I'll have plenty of time to blog later. Even better, set up a time each week for you to hang out with your friends! It'll be a nice distraction from talking about cases all day and then your friends won't be blowing up your phone while you're trying to study.

Prioritize your time

Here's the thing that I learned as a 2L— you're not busy all the time, it just feels like it because you're not spending your days right! I got this time tracker app and it helped teach me how I was wasting my time throughout the day. Find the biggest time wasters in your day and reduce if not eliminate them and you'll be much more productive when you have to be, which will get you to your free time faster.

And while you're doing this little life audit, start thinking about how you're spending your day. People always ask me how I find time to blog and the truth is that I love blogging so it's really easy for me to make it a priority! Remember in the new Gilmore Girls episode how Emily said that if something in your life doesn't make you happy you should throw it away? Yeah do that. I mean obviously you can't blow off your readings, but you've got to find something that you love to do to give you something to look forward to. I'm not just talking about laying around doing nothing when you're exhausted, I'm talking about finding something that gives your life some meaning beyond just being a reading robot.

Stop multitasking

My 1L year I would watch TV and read or put off reading until the last minute and have to speed read just so I could go to sleep. My 2L year I finally wised up and started taking my study time more seriously. Now what I do is study for 20 minutes, take a 5 minute break, and repeat until I'm done. When I study, it's phone off, TV off, iPad out of reach, AKA no distractions allowed. I also started getting to class early, staying through lunch, and staying a little after class so that I can get all my reading done at once. 
It's hard, I know, to have 8 non-stop hours of law, law, law, but trust me! If you go home and try to have a break before getting back to studying, your to-do list will be looming over your head and you wont' be able to enjoy yourself. It's so worth it to just stick it out and be really productive at school and then come home and have the rest of your day to yourself.

Set your week up around your day off

As a 1L, I'd start each week resetting for the upcoming week and get my life back in order and do some general tidying up on Sunday's, and try to make myself get a head start on my readings. From Monday-Thrusday I would work on my cases and notes every day. Back then I didn't have Friday classes (thank God I'm back to that now!) but I made myself spend my Friday's typing up my notes or making flashcards or working on my outlines. Then I'd let myself completely enjoy all of Saturday and just have a day off from school. 

Just like how I said you have to schedule your day to be super productive so that you can truly have free time, you need to do this on a large scale for your week. It is possible to spend all day tailgating and still be a good law student, but only if you've already marked everything off your to-do list. Remember: the saying is Work Hard, Play Hard and work hard comes first for a reason! And speaking of play hard, just remember to limit how much time you allow yourself to take off. If you spend all day partying and wake up with a hangover, then you've just lost a day of productivity while you're lying in bed.

Pick a "me day"

I wish I could say that you can enjoy your entire weekend, but to be honest you probably won't have enough time. Decide which day you're taking off and let yourself relax. Reply to all those texts you ignored or even better yet, go meet up with your friends or family. Finally get around to cleaning up your place a little bit. Sit on your butt and catch up on all the shows you missed while reading.

And let me be the first to tell you, make yourself take the free time that you've earned! It can be really tempting in law school to always feel like you're not doing enough to make yourself worthy of being ahead of the curve. I pinky promise you though that if you keep pushing yourself and saying one more page of outlining, then eventually you're going to crack and set yourself wayyy further behind than if you just would've stopped when you told yourself you were going to.


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