Weekly Academic Success Tip - Time Management

Time is a commodity that most law students lament during law school.  However, there are some time management techniques that can really improve your control over your learning and your quality of life.  Here are some suggestions on how to make time your friend instead of your enemy.

  1. You should manage your time on three levels:  monthly, weekly and daily.  Each of these three levels complements the other two so that you work effectively and efficiently rather than haphazardly. 
  2. You can use paper templates to manage your monthly and weekly calendars or you can use Outlook or your own electronic templates.  In addition, you can use a paper “to do” list for daily management.  Monthly and weekly templates are posted on the Academic Success webpage http://www.law.louisville.edu/academics/academic-success.
  3. For weekly time management, here are the steps you should take:
  • You will get more out of your reading if you do not do it on the day before class or the day of class.  Instead, read for a class two days before you have class.  For example, read on Saturday for Monday; on Sunday for Tuesday; on Monday for Wednesday; etc.  This schedule allows you to read more carefully and to reflect on the material while reading; allows you time to review before class; and allows you to have Thursdays and Fridays for outlining, practice questions, time for papers or projects, review of your outlines, etc.
  • Put your commitments in first:  class attendance; structured study group sessions; work hours; study group times; sleep; meals; exercise; student organization meetings; non-law reward time, etc. 
  • Then, fill in your reading/briefing, review before class, review of class notes within 24 hours, outlining, practice questions, project time, review time.  If you overdid it on reward time, you will have to designate additional study time.  
  • For most law students, 40-45 hours per week outside of class throughout the entire semester will mean reviewing near exam time instead of learning it for the first time.  
  • Include some blocks of “flex” time in case an assignment takes longer than usual or you were ill and needed to alter your schedule as a result.  You then have additional times set aside when you can study and will not panic if you are surprised by an assignment or life event in a particular week. 
  • It will take 2-3 weeks to get a weekly schedule that feels comfortable and works consistently.  As you evaluate what worked and did not work each week, alter the schedule to make better use of your “alert” time and your ability to concentrate in blocks.  Include short breaks within longer blocks of studying so that you are able to focus and concentrate. 
  • The rewards for good time management are that your stress goes down, you are better prepared for studying for the bar, and you are better equipped as a new lawyer to manage a client load and work tasks.