By Lulu H
So, you got through your first six weeks of the law school semester. You worked hard. Studied efficiently. Finished readings. And avoided hitting the bars until Friday night at least.
Now it’s the second half of the semester and the mere thought of picking up that law school text book has you sobbing into your pillow like a heart broken teen in a hall mark movie.
How can you get yourself out this funk and get through the last six weeks of the semester – with decent marks?
Contrary to popular belief watching recorded lectures in bed can be a fantastic way to get work done. To do this effectively grab yourself a stable table or clipboard to rest your laptop and notes on. Keep a pen at the ready (because handwritten notes are more effective than typed ones) and simply watch your lecture in pure, cosy comfort.
This is brilliant if you’re really struggling to find the willpower to force yourself out of bed. As a third year law student I’ve spent many Sundays curled up in bed with a cup of coffee as I catch up on the 8 am lectures that I didn’t attend that week.
Law school readings are the number one reason for feeling burned out. In some courses the readings carry hidden nuggets of vital information that is the difference between a credit and distinction. So unfortunately, they have to be done even though they take so much energy!
Luckily, they’re easy to break up. Use your weekly planner to divide up the number of chapters you have to read per course. Then using that division promise yourself a healthy reward every time you finish that set amount.
Ie. Every day I have to read three chapters per course, which is nine chapters a day (Monday to Friday). So if I finish nine chapters, at the end of the night I can enjoy watching a game of thrones episode.
Part of dealing with burn out is finding way simple ways to force yourself to focus. Also, adding in accountability for your actions can decrease how tempting it is to cut corners. When you print out your answers to a tutorial – everyone will know that you didn’t do them if you turn up without a printed answer.
Just knowing, that you have to provide a printed answer will make you more aware of your task. Plus, it will make it less tempting to online shop or scroll through your social media feed when you are in class.
A lot of students who are burned out, feel burned out because they are working too long! The brain is actually a lot like a muscle. We don’t spend all day in the gym because after a certain amount of time we stop getting any benefit from remaining in the gym. Similarly, your brain needs rest. So, put aside those guilty feelings for watching Youtube in the afternoon instead of studying.
Set a realistic study time, for me I study a minimum of five hours every day. After five hours I assess how tired I’m feeling and what I have left to do. Sometimes I may continue for a maximum of eight hours. Do not study more than eight hours at a time – your brain will be too fatigued to operate effectively!
Acknowledging the needs of your body is essential to curing burn out. If you’ve bene living of take away and caffeine for the last six weeks, it’s time for drastic change. Get a simple nutritional tracker like myfitnesspal or sustainabody and use it to track the nutrients you eat in a day.
Following a good nutritionally balanced meal plan will ensure that your body isn’t struggling to fuel the thinking process. It’s essential to realize that your body actually needs calories and nutrients to operate effectively. Without these things you could feel depressed, anxious, lethargic and have lower problem solving skills.
Sometimes the body just needs a day to play. I personally take one day off a week where I don’t study at all. During this time I like to go for an outside hike, brunch or watch a few movies. The important part is that I let myself indulge in fun activities that I enjoy.
Just knowing that you’re not going to have to push yourself to focus only on work for the next six weeks makes you feel a lot more confident in tackling the hard work. It’s very easy when doing a law degree to forget that study isn’t the only part of your life and there are lots of other things you can enjoy. Spending one a day a week won’t disrupt your study cycle – and can even help you to be more focused during the rest week. After all, we should study smarter – not harder!
Law school is meant to burn you out. Life as a lawyer is hard and the education environment for this field has to replicate that so that when you enter the field you’re prepared.
To give yourself the best chances of survival now is the time to start making healthy choices about your mental and physical health. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other law students and share advice amongst yourselves. Your cohort will one day be your colleagues – so make friends now and enjoy the experience!