Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Spring Cleaning Series: How to Organize Your Study Time More Efficiently

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Spring is here…almost.  Even though the weather hasn’t joined in on this concept, spring breaks are fast approaching.  Use this time to get organized so when you return to classes it will be smooth sailing to finals.  Today as well as the next three posts will help you organize and get you on the right track!  First, let’s start by making your time more efficient.
One of the best pieces of advice I received during my first year of law school was to treat school like a workday. Wake up early, exercise or stretch, take a shower and eat a good breakfast. Go to school or your home office and start work! Review for the first class. Go to class, and continue to study between each one. After classes, study more until you have reached the end of a workday. Grant yourself time to eat dinner, exercise, and do whatever you need to do to wind-down for the evening. Finally, get a good eight hours of sleep.  Believe it or not, but this is possible to do.
First, figure out your modus operandi. Are you a morning person or a night person? Are you more motivated after an afternoon nap? Establish your most productive hours and then follow through.  Take your version of “workday hours” and break them into one-hour increments.  Since you know you have to go to class, fill in those hours first.
Next, review your syllabi for your classes.  If you haven’t figured out by now,  take time to determine how long it takes to read ten pages of text, how long it takes to brief a case, how much time on average you need to review notes for class, and which classes need extra review.  To help you, try out the free app toggl to track your time doing different activities.  Then, every Sunday morning map out the week by filling up the remaining “workday” slots.
To make sure you achieve your time goals, don’t forget to schedule random moments – the time it takes to get to class, the time to get to your study area and unload, a break or two, and your lunch hour.  For example, if you plan to go to the library after a class that ends at 10 and read for an hour, your schedule may say:  class 9 -10, library reading 10:15 -11:15.  Also, write down context with the assignment to help you get started right away.  Going back to the example of library reading, you might write down:  10:15-11:15 reading 10 pages assigned for torts on Thursday and corresponding supplement.  Finally, group simpler tasks together to knock them out quickly.  You’ll free up more time and accomplish a lot, making you feel more energized and focused for difficult tasks that take more time.  Be sure to check off the time slots you complete to keep you motivated.
Further, avoid time-wasters such as social media sites that can take away hours of your time without you realizing it.  Try using the free versions of Rescue Time or Minutes Please to limit or even restrict your social media access.

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Until Next Time,
Jenny L. Maxey

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