It’s the pointy end of semester, that terrifying couple of weeks each year where exams seem like they might actually become a reality. But when you’ve been coasting for most of the semester, discipline seems to elude you, and you get the sense that you’re losing a lot of study time, although you’re not sure where it all goes. Here are some productivity tips to help you find more hours in the day…
Plan and prioritise
A study timetable helps to ensure that you’ll finish studying in time for exams, but it will also help you to prioritise your commitments and makes it easier to say no to fun distractions that could probably wait until after exams.
Whenever you think of an activity that you’d rather be doing (such as watching all four seasons of a TV series or procrastibaking five different kinds of cake) put it on a list. You’ll be able to do some of these activities as a study break, and the things that have to wait until post-exams will help to motivate you.
Work out where you can share the workload or where things can be delayed
Law students tend to be pretty determined to do everything on their own, but it’s just not necessary. Write notes with a study group and find other ways to share the work.
People often say that tasks are urgent, but it’s rare that everything on your ‘do now’ list actually has to be done straight away. People are generally understanding of your study commitments and are happy to wait; all you have to do is explain the circumstances to them.
This may be a bit controversial, but technology isn’t 100% essential to a lot of study tasks. You need a laptop to research and write an essay, but you can print off journal articles to read and draft essays to edit.
Working on a computer brings temptation, namely from the chirping noises of Facebook and Gmail chat, so wherever possible turn off your laptop and focus on the task at hand.
Most of us are in the habit of opening Facebook/Twitter/email every time we sit down to start working on a computer. This is a massive time waster. By the time you’ve finished answering emails or updating your status, the study motivation has disappeared. Schedule technology as a reward and put an end time on it. If Facebook is set as your homepage, change it.
Take care of yourself
All work and no play makes for a moody, unproductive law student. Always make time to sleep, eat properly, exercise, shower, and do the things you love. Time out is important, even when exams are days away, so set aside an hour or two for relaxation.
Taking regular breaks is important, and you may also need to vary where you study to stay refreshed and motivated.
Focus on one thing at a time
Multi-tasking seems incredibly productive, but while it feels like you’re doing everything nothing is actually finished. Focus on individual tasks and it will take less time.
Group similar tasks together
Some tasks are repetitive. Whether it’s writing sort case summaries, or answering emails, group them together and get it done quicker.
Do some easy tasks
If you’re feeling like you’re not making a lot of progress, do a couple of quick, easy tasks to help you feel like you’re powering through the work.
Know when to stop
You want that set of notes to be perfect but you have two other subjects to write exam notes for, and you haven’t even looked at practice questions yet. Average preparation in all subjects is better than perfect preparation for one exam. Don’t be a perfectionist and give your other topics some attention.
Give in to procrastination
Even with all that willpower, sometimes you just have to get it out of your system. Watch the rest of that series or finish reading that book. Chances are you’ll feel guilty the whole time and be totally motivated to get back into study.