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Student Perspectives – Time Management Rules

3L, Whittier Law School

When I was a 1L, I quickly discovered that one of the biggest battles I had to fight was the battle against time. Especially in that first semester when I was still trying to get used to the excessive amount of case reading and briefing, time always seemed to get away from me. Time is, has always been, and always will be that one thing that leaves and will never return. As such, I learned very quickly that I had to stay efficient if I wanted to keep up with my studies, sleep (the most important of all), and sneak in a dinner date once a week with my sweetheart.

There is not a set way to efficiently time manage and I do not claim to be an expert at such tasks. However, my method has allowed me to maintain a full time status at school, participate in internships/externships, be a work study, partake in student organization activities and experience life outside of law school. In no particular order of importance, here are the "rules" I follow to help maximize my time. It works for me, and I hope that it will work for you, too.

  1. Do it once, and do it right. I will use reading as an example: when it comes to reading (which I am not very good at), I remind myself that I only want to read it once, and I want to read it right. I turn away from all distractions, put in my ear plugs and tune out the rest of the world until I finish that 20-page opinion in one sitting.
  2. Do not take short cuts. I have learned that when I attempt to take short cuts, half way through the task, I realize that I have missed important things, which ultimately creates a string of problems down a very short line. This goes back to Rule 1- if you are going to do it, then do it right the first time.
  3. Procras T. Nator is not my friend. This is pretty much self-explanatory. We've all heard it since we were in grade school - do not wait until the last minute to complete (or start) an assignment. I tell myself, "If I do it now, I won't have to do it later." It usually seems to pay off, especially when that last minute meeting is called - I am able to participate wholeheartedly, rather than worrying about how I haven't finished that assignment due in half an hour.
  4. Keep a physical daily planner. My daily planner is filled with tasks that I realistically can complete in the day. After each task is done, I will physically cross it out on my planner. And somehow, at the end of the day, I get an unusual sense of accomplishment by seeing those vertical lines run across my "to do" list. In the order of importance, any readings and assignments will always take the priority slots of #1-10 while "going to Target" usually gets pushed to #11. Although I do not always follow my schedule rigidly, I try. And when I do get to cross #1-10 off my list, I don't feel bad about being at Target at the end of the night.

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