Optimism is Contagious

It’s easy to get discouraged when studying. Mountains of materials make it all overwhelming. But please remember that education is a treasure; it is an endless gift to be able to spend time learning. Confront challenges and problem solve to dissipate road blocks. And, try hard to put a smile on your face when you are working. It is amazing how inner positivity can have a productive ripple effect.

Ten tips to manage procrastination

Many students share that as midterms and finals approach, and during bar prep, they find themselves unusually eager to clean their homes, review and delete old emails, clip their toenails. You get the idea – anything other than studying!

Here are tips if this is your situation:

  1. Know that procrastination is normal. Lose the self-criticism.
  2. See some procrastinating as a positive. Sometimes, it does serve a useful purpose – helping re-charge your batteries so that you are all-in when you are studying.
  3. If your procrastination is paralyzing, rather than positive, seek help from reliable, expert resources.
  4. Think of an academic goal as a series of finite projects. It is more tempting to avoid something that feels like a huge challenge. Identifying tasks as doable parts of a project makes them more approachable.
  5. Once you identify the various tasks, ask yourself if any of them feel overwhelming, and see if you can get some help with those pieces of the puzzle.
  6. List what you tend to do when you procrastinate and schedule specific, limited time slots for those things. Don’t make them guilty pleasures. Make them a controlled part of your day. For example, if you procrastinate with social media, you may find yourself losing many hours. If you know that every day, you have social media “office hours,” you will be less apt to use that as an escape.
  7. Study first, then take your time “off.”
  8. Adopt a routine. Being on a schedule will help your body and brain “accept” that you just do particular tasks at certain times. You just do.
  9. Talk to yourself about how good you feel when you accomplish what you set out to do. And, if it’s helpful, remind yourself how icky it feels when you don’t. Simple example: many people have a habit of never going to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink. No matter how tired they are, they just don’t procrastinate on that one. Why? They find it pleasant to wake to a clean sink and very unpleasant to wake to dirt. They also realize that the task gets more difficult the longer food sticks to dishes. And, they know that a sink for of dirty dishes attracts bugs.
  10. Articulate why your big goals are important and valuable. And give yourself props for all the hard work you are doing.

#studysuccess, #academicsuccess, #lawschool, #lawstudent, #ASP, #barsuccess

Health and Wellness in Law School and during Bar Prep

It is normal to struggle. And, it’s also normal to need help. Practice self-care, taking care of your physical and mental health. Adopt daily practices of diet, exercise, positive self-talk, meditation, and others that make you feel your best. And, if you feel you might want or need them, check out the many mental health, substance use, and wellness resources at ABA for Law Students.

#BarReview, #LawSchool, #BarPrep, #LawStudent, #BarSuccess

Stay Hydrated while Studying

If your body does not have enough water, you may experience fatigue, hunger, or brain fog – all of which detract from the kind of focused attention you need for deep learning.

For those in bar prep, it helps to “train” with no food or drink during study blocks. But before and after every study session, and at every break, drink water. Type WATER into your schedule!

Imagine that plant that you haven’t watered for a while. Picture how it soaks up the moisture. That’s you when you are not hydrated. So, if you are taking a study break to read this post, grab yourself a glass of water. You will be amazed how much better and stronger you feel.

#barexam, #barprep, #lawschool, #lawstudents

Are you on a 2022 Roll ?

It is easy to feel stuck in pandemania, but there will be a future, and the time is now to prepare yourself for it. The time is now to push through the challenges, to seek and receive assistance if you need it, and to follow your vision – one step at a time.

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Happy New Year

To all, may the year bring hope, happiness, and health!

To upcoming bar takers, and all facing great challenges, may you embrace that which is difficult knowing that your effort is worthwhile, your courage is great, and your persistence will be rewarded.

It’s a long way till February. Don’t burn out!

You are perfectly normal if you think, “I cannot handle any more studying.  Not another lecture or practice test.  I need to sleep.  I need a day off.  I need my life back!” You will have your life back after the bar. For now, another day of this is precisely what you must do. And another, and another.  You must remain motivated, batteries fully charged, util the last “time” is called on the last day of your exam.

How to maintain motivation?   It’s not easy.   But these ten steps help.

1) Exercise to burn off stress

Burn off the stress. Do something active every single day if you are able.  Walking, yoga, biking, swimming, weight lifting, jogging, spinning, skating.  Don’t skip a day.  Think of time exercising as an investment in your success.  And, if you want, study while on a treadmill or walk while playing a bar review lecture.

2) Pace yourself – one day at a time

Take breaks.  Remember even during the bar, you get close to a 2 hour lunch break between the morning and afternoon sessions.  So, feel free to take lunches now.  Stop fully and relax.  Eat something healthy. Drink water. Then get back into it.  And, when you’ve put in a full day of studying, take off, relax, then get a good night’s sleep.

3) Reward Yourself –daily and weekly.

Do something kind to acknowledge each day’s work. And, give yourself a bigger treat to mark the end of each week of hard work.  

4) Plan an after-bar something special

Schedule something as soon as possible after the exam, something you really look forward to.  Just thinking about that and knowing that you have something planned will help alleviate some of the burnout today.  

5) Shake up your study routine.

If you are tired of reading quietly, read aloud to yourself.  One of my students found the way to keep motivated (and better retain the material) was to read aloud in a funny accent and record her voice reading rules.  She played them back to herself  while driving and laughed while learning.

Try charting, try flashcards, try re-typing sample answers. Explain the rules/theories you are most afraid will be tested on the bar exam to a non-lawyer person.  (If you can explain something correctly to someone else, likely that means you have mastered it.)

Study in a different location one day. Variety can go a long way to helping stop burnout before it drags you down.  

6) Get on bar standard time

Complete practice days where you are “on” during the times you will have to be on during your bar exam. This will help you train the endurance needed for success.

7) Be kind to yourself.

This IS one of the hardest times in your life, one of the steepest mountains you will climb.  Once you pass, it’s a lifetime license.  You never have to do it again. 

8) Sing

Sing a favorite song. Music is a healthy, natural way to re-charge.

9) Check in with a classmate

If you study effectively with others, it might help to have some company. If not, at least reach out to classmates. There is no one who will understand what you are going through better. Even a quick phone call, text, or Zoom can help you feel that you are not alone. You are all in this together.

10) Eat chocolate!  It won’t add brain cells, but it should put a smile on your face!

Juggling Work and Finals: a few practical tips to rise to this tough challenge

Many college and graduate school students must work while studying.  A couple of thoughts.

  1. When you get your syllabus, calendar midterms and finals, and ask your employer if it’s possible to work fewer hours (or take off entirely) during the weeks prior to those exams in exchange for working additional hours once exams are over.
  2. Don’t wait until after work when you might be too tired to study.  If you have to work while in intense study mode, put in an hour or two in the morning before work, an hour at a lunch break, and an hour or two after work.  You will get 5 hours a day in this way, without having them all crunched in when you are perhaps too burned out to focus.
  3. Use “work” as time off from studying and studying as time off from work –at least during finals.  During those high gear weeks before finals (or months if studying for the bar, boards, or a big standardized test), eliminate or reduce if possible any responsibilities other than work and studying. Obviously if you are the sole caretaker of young children or elderly parents you cannot “eliminate” those responsibilities –but try if possible to get someone or hire someone to help out or act as your “relief pitcher.”
  4. Though work and studying will (and should) take nearly all your focus, continue if at all possible to exercise, sleep, and eat well.  Brain work takes a great deal of energy.  Your focus, your ability to learn and retain information and to think clearly will all be enhanced by effective self care.

These simple few suggestions in no way imply that juggling work and studies is easy, especially if you also have familial responsibilities.  But hopefully these tips will help make the trying task a bit easier.  Keep up the good work and hard work, and draw on your internal motivations to rise to this admittedly very tough challenge.