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Time Management Guide for Law Students

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Time Management Guide for Law Students

Law students are not typically taught time management and productivity skills.  Even students that are skilled in these areas in classroom settings do not yet have the time management skills required for legal practice.  Falling short in this area impacts their ability to be effective not only in law school, but in bar prep, on the bar exam, and in legal practice.  Currently, law students are not typically offered an approachable way to learn these skills or to experiment and find solutions that are a best fit for them.  Time management skills do not occur naturally but are key to success as a developing professional. 

This guide draws on the author’s experience, as well as time management best practices, curating impactful and relevant time management insights for law students.  Each section distills extensive coverage of time management concepts into an efficient presentation of practical, usable, easier-to-implement key points to help ensure student success.  This focused approach allows law students to zero in on, in a logical order, the strategies likely to have the biggest impact and to serve them in and after law school. 

This guide teaches law students not only how to fuel their success by building time strong time management skills to serve as a foundation to their success as law students, but also how to grow these skills over a professional lifetime, the roadblocks likely to get in the way, what strategies are likely to bolster their success, what issues and limitations are likely to limit their success, and how make this a lifelong skill that evolves with them as their lives and careers change. 

Introduction

This introductory set of recordings introduces the author, as well as her insight into time management issues, experience coaching lawyers, law students, and others on time management issues, and perspective on time management best practices.   We then discuss transition to law school from previous academic experiences, as well as from other professions prior to returning to school to study law.  We also address the impact and importance of time management strategy on transition to practice after law school.  Finally, we talk about keys to time management success and how to effectively use this resource.  

Users Please Note:  Behind each audio file is years of experience, hours of research, and many pages of time management best practices.  What you will hear are targeted, practical discussions to help you efficiently identify changes you can implement to steadily develop your own time management skills and practices. 

In other words, even though each audio file is short and manageable, you will find a significant amount of information and opportunity in each lesson.  For example, you may find inspiration for a significant change to your own time management approach in as little as a few seconds of one audio file.  As you will hear in the introductory files, you should take small steps forward, experimenting and implementing along the way.  Trying to change too much too quickly will get in the way of your success.  If you make consistent, bite-sized forward progress, this guide can help you both build a strong time management foundation and learn how to evolve your time management approach for a lifetime. 

Includes:

  • Author insight, experience, and perspective
  • Transition to law school
  • Transition to practice after law school
  • Keys to time management success
  • How to use this resource

Downloadable/Printable Resources: Reflection and Focus Worksheet for implementing time management strategy.

Time Management Basics

Here we address the basics of time management skills that help fuel law school success and build a solid foundation for time management skills in practice.  We discuss a typical to-do list approach, problems with that approach, ideas for improving effectiveness of to-do lists, and more powerful alternatives for time management, including project management skills. 

Includes:

  • To-do list approach to time management and related issues
  • Project management skills
  • Planning and time management strategies

Skills to enhance time management, efficiency, and effectiveness

Next, we address several skills that enhance an effective time management strategy.  For example, the ability to predict the amount of time required to complete a task is an important skill when implementing a time management strategy.  Similarly, several other skills have a substantial impact on a student’s ability to use time efficiently and effectively.  We spend time discussing each one of these skills.  

Includes:

  • Predicting time required to complete tasks
  • Developing realistic time expectations
  • Creating a personalized approach to using your time well
  • Prioritizing and assigning appropriate amounts of time
  • Protecting your time management system

Troubleshooting time management issues

In this section, we discuss major roadblocks to implementing successful time management strategies, particularly distractions and procrastination – significant issues for current law students.  We talk about why these issues arise, how to analyze distractions in your own life and law school experience, and concrete strategies for removing these roadblocks. 

Includes:

  • Distractions
  • Procrastination

Downloadable/Printable Resources: Distraction Awareness Worksheet for analyzing and addressing distractions most affecting each student individually

Understanding your brain to maximize success

Next, we draw on psychology and neuroscience to better understand characteristics of the human brain that impact effective time management.  Insight into a few key principles in this area helps students better think through how they manage their time and efforts and has the power to substantially increase success in law school and in practice.  For example, understanding the impact of sleep on retaining information or the potential effect of willpower/focus on cognitive capacity helps students make better daily decisions. 

Includes:

  • Your brain and its limits
  • Sleep
  • Context switching

Downloadable/Printable Resources: Healthy Sleep Tips Checklist


Continued development of time management skills

Finally, we talk about how to continue developing and adjusting time management skills and strategies.  This final step empowers students to see continued time management success, paving the way for a lifetime of professional success and community impact, prioritization of physical and mental health, personal and professional balance, and enjoyment of life both inside and outside of legal practice.

Includes:

  • Continuing strong time management habits
  • Experimenting
  • Reflecting

Katie Ahern Katie Ahern leads the Business Start-up Clinic at the Roger Williams University School of Law, which serves nonprofit and small business clients. She also teaches business-law related classes at the University of Rhode Island and has served on the board and as President of the Rhode Island Women’s Bar Association.