Law School,  Work Life Balance

Planning Ahead for the New Semester

I am so eager to get back into the rhythm of my normal. The last three months of 2015 were kind of out of control-I easily worked every weekend to meet some deadline/research. It was really out of the ordinary for my job.  Thankfully, I think things are settling down and getting back to normal.

Having said that, I really like the beginning of the year. It’s totally cliché, but the idea of starting fresh just really appeals to me.  Maybe because I went to school for a million years so I’m still used to starting fresh in January.

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For those that are actually in school and starting a new semester, I think this is a great time to plan ahead for the semester.  Maybe your grades have rolled in and you’re not super happy about it; or you weren’t able to balance some responsibilities as well as you wished you could have then this is a good to time to take a moment to plan your semester so that you can do better.  I know, you already have readings and want to relax before things start to get really hectic, but take some time now to plan before the semester gets away from you.

 

One. Assess habits that worked/didn’t work. Take the time to review what worked and what didn’t in regards to your study habits and whether it helped or hindered you; then adjust accordingly. I knew a student who studied while watching T.V. –he had always done it and figured it wouldn’t affect his studying.  Except it did. Guess who took a permanent spot at the library the following semester? He accepted that he needed to make big changes to improve his understanding of the material. So if you know there’s some things you should change to improve yourself plan for it now.

Two. Make time for who matters. WHO matters, not WHAT. It’s super important that you maintain a connection with non-law school friends and family. It anchors you and can remind you that there’s life outside of your academic bubble. Make sure you set time aside for them.  Once you’re past your first year, it may seem like you’ll have more time to use towards family, but really 2L and 3L year are often filled with even more to do than 1L year. My last semester of law school I had some activity/event/deadline every Saturday until April. Not even joking.  It helped my now-husband know my schedule ahead of time and let us plan ahead other times to spend together rather than springing it on him every weekend that I wouldn’t be available.  But remember, you also matter! If you need an hour (or two) of downtime, etc. schedule it for yourself.

Three. Budget. I know this may seem laughable because many are surviving on work study/loans, but it makes a difference both mentally and financially to budget your semester ahead of time so that you don’t have to worry about covering rent or missing out on some event because you just don’t have the money.  I totally failed to do this my first semester in law school. I had only taken out the minimum loan and in November I found myself barely able to cover rent even though I was also working a part-time job (at that time we were only allowed to work 20 hours a week and $8.25/hour in Chicago doesn’t get you far). I had to get a credit card to help cover basics until the new semester.  Avoid this if you can! Plan ahead what some of your major expenses will be now to ensure you stay on track for the rest of the semester.

What are some things you’re looking forward to this semester?!

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