Time Management & Productivity Tips for Law Students


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The Health & Wellness Center at Charlotte School of Law presents practical tips to get organized and get stuff done while managing the demands of law school. Be sure to view the "pomodoro technique" to help you stay on task.

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  • Coaching rather than counselingShort Term vs. Long TermNot providing long-term therapy or unearthing past traumatic childhood events.Focus is on providing coping skills (such as mindfulness exercises, and CBT skills)Educational WorkshopsMindfulnessStress/ Anxiety ReductionThe Science of HappinessSupport Groups for (i.e. veterans, single moms)Providing Referral Info (Still utilizing BARCAres) Student has 3 free sessions per year.
  •  Hyperbolic Discounters: Preferences aren’t consistent over time.Desire to watch a serious movie, but choose the Hangover instead.Desires shift as the long run becomes the short run.“the planning fallacy.” You didn’t expect your car to blow up during finalsElster thinks that people underestimate the time “it will take them to complete a given task, partly because they fail to take account of how long it has taken them to complete similar projects in the past and partly because they rely on smooth scenarios in which accidents or unforeseen problems never occur.” Self-Handicappers: “Gen. George McClellan, who led the Army of the Potomac during the early years of the Civil War, was considered a military genius, but he soon became famous for his chronic hesitancy. In 1862, despite an excellent opportunity to take Richmond from Robert E. Lee’s men, he dillydallied and missed his chance. Later that year, both before and after Antietam, he similarly squandered a two-to-one advantage over Lee’s troops. Afterward, Union Gen.-in-Chief Henry Halleck wrote, ‘It requires the lever of Archimedes to move this inert mass.’”That’s the history. The following is why I’m writing this:“McClellan was, in ways, a classic procrastinator. He was unsure that he could accomplish the tasks before him. And he was given to excessive planning, as if only the perfect strategy was worth doing. Lack of confidence, sometimes alternating with unrealistic dreams of heroic success, often leads to procrastination; rather than risk failure, procrastinators create conditions that make success impossible.”
  • Willpower This isn’t a completely fruitless task: much recent research suggests that will power is, in some ways, like a muscle and can be made stronger. The same research, though, also suggests that most of us have a limited amount of will power and that it’s easily exhausted. In one famous study, people who had been asked to restrain themselves from readily available temptation—in this case, a pile of chocolate-chip cookies that they weren’t allowed to touch—had a harder time persisting in a difficult task than people who were allowed to eat the cookies.EAT THAT FROG: Do the Big, Shoulder-Sagging Stuff FirstBrian Tracy’s classic time-management book Eat That Frog gets its title from a Mark Twain saying that, if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, you’ve got it behind you for the rest of the day, and nothing else looks so bad. Gina Trapani explained it well in a video for her Work Smart series). Combine that with the concept of getting one thing done before you wade into email, and you’ve got a day-to-day system in place. Here’s how to force yourself to stick to it:Choose Your Frog"Choose your frog, and write it down on a piece of paper that you'll see when you arrive back at your desk in the morning, Tripaniadvises."If you can, gather together the material you'll need to get it done and have that out, too."One benefit to tackling that terrible, weighty thing you don’t want to do first thing in the morning is that you get some space from the other people involved in that thing--the people who often make the thing more complicated and frustrating. Without their literal or figurative eyes over your shoulder, the terrible thing often feels less complex, and you can get more done.
  • ProcrastinationOpen ended tasks with distant deadlines are easier to postponeCompared to focused, short-term projects.
  • Deadlines: Use personal example of setting deadline about financial planning. Will relieve pressure you may put on yourself
  • 1. Non-judgingLearning how to be an objectiveobserver, to step back and create some space from the constant stream of judging and reacting. 2. PatienceIs a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time. We give ourselves room for having experiences. 3. Beginner’s MindToo often we let our thinking and our beliefs about what we “know” prevent us from seeing things as they really are. An open, “beginners” mind allows us to be receptive to newpossibilities and prevents us from getting stuck in a rut of own expertise. GM and Ford not changing or adopting their manufacturing methods.4. TrustDeveloping trust in yourself and your feelings. It’s far better to trust in your intuition and your own authority, even if you make mistakes along the way, than always looking outside of yourself for guidance. Think of your feelings as a compass or radar, that something is wrong.5. Non-strivingMeditation is non-doing. Not trying to change or control things. Practicing meditation will naturally move you towards your goals. If you are tense, pay attention to the tension. If you are criticizing yourself, then observe the activity of the judging mind. 6. AcceptanceWilling to see things as they are in the present. Seeing things as they actually are in the present. If you have a headache, accept that you have a headache. If you are stuck in traffic, accept that it’s rush hour and it’s going to take a little longer. By intentionally cultivating acceptance, you are creating the preconditions for healing. Does not mean you likeeverything, or that you take a passive attitude and abandon your principles and values. Does not mean you are satisfied with things and resign to tolerate things as they “have to be.” 7. Letting GoIn India there is a clever way to catch monkeys. As the story goes, hunters will cut a hole in a coconut that is just big enough for a monkey to put its hand through. Then they will drill two smaller holes in the other end, pass a wire through, and secure that coconut to the base of a tree. Then they put a banana inside the coconut and hide. The monkey comes down, puts his hand in and takes hold of the banana. The hole is crafted so that the open hand can go in but the fist cannot get out. All the monkey has to do to be free is to let go of the banana. But it seems most monkeys don’t let go. When we start payingattention to our inner experience, certain thoughts, feelings, and situations that the mind seems to want to hold on to. Do this every night at bedtime. one of the first signs of elevated stress is when the mind won’t shut down when we got into bed. Try to fight it and get’s worse.
  • Time Management & Productivity Tips for Law Students

    1. 1. Time Management & Productivity Workshop Jeremy McCleery, LCSWA CSL Health & Wellness Counselor
    2. 2. CSL Health & Wellness Center: Services Provided • • • • • • Coaching / Counseling Short-term problem solving solutions Empowerment Educational workshops Referral information Resources Here is the link to our LibGuide: http://cslguides.charlottelaw.edu/healthandwellness Here is the link to make an online appointment: http://charlottelawwellness.setster.com/
    3. 3. Procrastination • According to The New Yorker, 65% of students faced with writing a term paper said they would like to avoid procrastinating because they knew the delay would make them unhappy. • The essence of procrastination lies in not doing what you think you should be doing. – Knowingly delaying because you think that’s the most efficient use of your time doesn’t count (i.e. eating, drinking, and being merry). The New Yorker: http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2010/10/11/101011crbo_boo ks_surowiecki
    4. 4. Procrastination: Theories • Hyperbolic Discounting (fancy economics term) – Short-term considerations overwhelm long-term goals. • Instant gratification (i.e. Facebook, Candy Crush, etc) • $100 today? or $110 tomorrow? In one study, most people chose $100 today. • Planning Fallacy – Underestimating the time it will take to complete a given task and relying only on smooth scenarios. • Self-handicappers – Rather than risking failure, we prefer to create conditions that make success impossible. Read about General George McClellan.
    5. 5. Assess your avoidance • What is holding you back from completing a task? – Fear of failure – Get to the root of the problem. – Chart your common avoidances and find out which are leading you to procrastinate the most. – Check out Unstuck for the iPad which will help you access the problem.
    6. 6. Eliminate distractions • Avoid mindless web browsing, stop checking social media, get out of your inbox. – Schedule times during the day for social media and checking email • Get radical. – Check out Stay Focused for Chrome that blocks distracting websites. – Put your mobile device on airplane mode while focusing on your task. – Turn off your Wi-Fi on your laptop. • Find your best workspace (i.e. home, school, coffee shop, etc).
    7. 7. Set goals & strengthen your willpower • Develop a keystone habit (exercise, study, budget) – Keystone habits will “spill over” into in other areas of life. – Think of willpower as a muscle. • Create and track goals: – Pick one goal. – Start small.  (SMART) Habit List (ios) Everest (ios) Goal Tracker (Android)
    8. 8. Reframe the task in front of you • Procrastination is driven by the gap between effort (now) and reward (future). • Narrow the gap. – Divide projects into smaller, defined sections. • Stop chasing perfection. – Go with your gut when it comes to being finished with a task.
    9. 9. Break tasks down & prioritize 1. Brainstorming and initial project planning. 2. Break down into smaller, actionable steps. 3. Prioritize and sort. Find the “next action” item. 4. Review weekly. Android alternatives • Any.do • Wunderlist • Remember the milk • Todoist Don’t forget low tech options: - Paper & pen - Be creative with different color pens and markers “MY workflow” Clear (ios)
    10. 10. Set Deadlines & Create Routines • Give yourself deadlines for projects using your mobile calendar. • Don’t forget to set a reminder! • You can also use your calendar to schedule routines (i.e. studying, exercising, relaxing, etc). – Your brain loves routines and it will help habits become automatic.
    11. 11. Create an early morning routine • Eat That Frog! (first thing in the morning, before you check your email). – Do the big, shoulder-sagging stuff first. – Mark Twain said that if you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, you’ve got it behind you for the rest of the day, and nothing else looks so bad. 1. Choose your frog. 2. Write it down and gather what you need to work on the task.
    12. 12. Stay Focused: the Pomodoro Technique 1. Choose a task you’d like to get done. 2. Set the pomodoro for 25 minutes. 3. Work on the task until the pomodoro rings. 4. When the pomodoro rings, put a checkmark on your paper. 5. Take a short break (5 minutes). 6. Every 4 pomodoros, take a longer break (15). Apps (ios) Focus Time Pomodoro Pomodroido (Android)
    13. 13. Get Mindful! Mindfulness: Paying attention, on purpose, in the present, moment by moment, non-judgmentally. Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. A simple way to manage stress and improve test scores. Guided Meditation Apps: • • Mindfulness meditation We have a simple meditation on our Libguide for beginners
    14. 14. Questions? Feel free to email me at wellness@charlottelaw.edu or visit me in Office 792 of the Health & Wellness Center (Suite 789).