I am sleep deprived and loving it, thanks to work, study and enjoying a wonderful Southwestern Pennsylvania summer. It is a bit of a hectic time right now. My professional projects are more demanding than usual, I am interviewing for a new position, and of course summer brings so many fun things to enjoy with friends and family. But I like structure, so I try to make sure that each day is organized to help me reach my goals in every area that is important to me: exercise and being out-of-doors, studying and my professional goals, along with family time, all need to be built into the day.
It seems like the only way to do that is to get up at 4:30 in the morning. Fortunately for me my dog, Jaeger Mister, wakes up at 4:30 like a scrumptious little muffin shooting out of my toaster. He loves his morning walk – three miles every
day and we’re home before 6:00 AM. These early morning hours are the best study time for me. Right now, with my current schedule, I can count on two or three hours to focus on study before being launched into the day’s hubbub. Since my office is at home no precious time is given up to commuting – something I am truly thankful for. Still, it surprises me how easily other obligations can pressure the time set aside to study.
For me, it is helpful to study in smaller time allotments than in longer sessions. And I find that if I am resourceful about using short sessions effectively, I get a lot more work done over the week. It has been very helpful in my first semester of law studies to focus on one question in-depth during my study time. If necessary, when interruptions inevitably come along, I can continue studying the same point the next day. Having time to think over challenging or interesting points is often quite helpful, even if it is just repeating phrases or facts to make sure I can recall them. My goal is to review and memorize key points as I go, internalizing the material and working to incorporate a variety of sources and secondary reading in my work.
After googling the bejeebers out of concepts like ‘effective note taking for law students,’ I settled on outline strategies as the best option for me. Using outlines to draft my research and responses to questions is very efficient. I can develop them from a relatively simple form into more complex sentence outlines that I hope will form good, solid papers at exam time. It is also relatively easy to pick up where I left off and they provide me with clear, easy to use notes. Since shifting to this method, it is much easier to make good use of the precious two hours set aside for study time each day.
I read somewhere that good time management means getting done what has to be done, not necessarily doing a bit of everything each day. I can see the reasoning behind that, and appreciate the sentiment, especially on really hectic days and weeks. But for me, including certain things in each day is a very welcome strategy. Two hours a day is fourteen hours a week, just about what the tutors on the PG Laws programme recommend. Some days I can dedicate a bit more time to study. Inevitably, there are some days when I have to concentrate on other obligations. Honestly, I think that having multiple responsibilities and competing demands makes me a better student and a more accomplished professional. Two hours of study time a day is a rewarding goal. If I can just find a way to get to bed before midnight things would be perfect!