As a law student, you will find yourself pulled in many directions at once. In any given day, you may have numerous course deadlines, student group meetings, internship responsibilities, as well as important personal obligations to meet. Developing strong time management skills while in law school will help you succeed not only in your studies, but also when you enter practice. By making a conscious effort each day to intentionally manage your time, you will soon be able to prioritize and complete tasks with efficiency and minimal stress. Below are some tips to help you get started:
- Plan your time. Use a planner to write down times you will be in classes, at meetings, with family, and other “need to attend” obligations. Include larger projects that need to be accomplished over the coming weeks and continue to update your planner with any additions or revisions to the month. At the start of each day, take a few moments to review your calendar for the week ahead and prepare a “to do” list for that day, prioritizing the most important or urgent tasks broken down into reasonable “bite-size” pieces you can accomplish in the course of one day. Add to this list any smaller items that have come up recently that can easily be completed during the day, such as sending out an email response, visiting a professor’s office hours to clarify a question, or running an errand. Refer to this list throughout the day to remind yourself to stay on track, and if you think it would be helpful, let others know how you will be spending your time that day.
- Take control of your time. As you go through your day, you will find that others may have different plans for you. If things come up that can be handled within a matter of minutes (such as responding to an email or taking a phone call), tend to it immediately and move on so that it is accomplished, not occupying your mind, and not forgotten. If it will take longer, or it is something that can be handled at a later date without affecting a larger project, add this new task to your calendar at a specific date and time so you are certain to complete the request in a timely manner.
- Evaluate how you are spending your time. If you feel that you are constantly running short on time, start tracking how you are spending your day. Then, look for times in your schedule that you find yourself wasting with nonessential tasks, or can see using more wisely, such as the hours before your first class in the day or your weekend mornings.
- Make the most of “free” time. Once you have accomplished the tasks for the day, reward yourself! Do not feel guilty about taking time at the end of each productive day to unwind. This time is just as important to your productivity, as it will rejuvenate you for the next day. However, if unexpected efficiency or a change in plans has enabled you to accomplish your “to do” list with more time left over than you had anticipated, review your planner and see if you can get a “head start” on items that need to be accomplished in the week ahead. This will ensure that if other items or emergencies arise on that future date, you will continue to stay on track.
Please do not hesitate to contact the Academic Support Program to gain additional guidance and support on how to effectively manage your time.