Well its that time of year again. Finals! For those of you that work and go to law school, here are my 5 ways for managing the stress of law school finals.
1. Keep reminding yourself that this is only temporary. After my first year of law school, I began staying after class to review my notes and study. Keep in mind, my classes ended at 9:30 p.m. which meant I would spend another 2 - 3 hours on campus before heading home. This worked well for me because I knew there was an end date, and that end date was June 2019. I've also had the benefit of working with very supportive colleagues who'd inquire about my law school endeavor on a semi-regular basis. All were surprised how I managed a full course load of 4-6 classes and a full-time work schedule. My response was generally the same...this 20-hour grind 4 days sometimes 5 days a week is only temporary and one day it will end.
2. Train yourself to operate on less sleep in order to maximize your day. I've spent the past two years operating on 4 hours of sleep Monday through Friday. However, I'd make sure to sleep in on Saturday and/or Sunday in order to get 6 to 8 hours of sleep and to allow my body and mind to recover.
3. Cut out the activities that don't support your goal of graduating law school. The first thing I gave up was watching t.v. I would feel guilty then, get irritated after a television show was over. After some time, I realized that I was really upset because I had wasted valuable time. Time that I could never get back. After I stopped watching television, I began to look for other time-wasters to ditch. Most of the time gained was split between spending quality time with my daughter which meant playing pretend with Barbies' or L.O.L.dolls or studying.
4. Inform your family and team of supporters that you're heading into what I call the Zone. Both of my parents care for my daughter while I'm at work and school. During dead week, I inform my parents, my partner and colleagues of my finals schedule and what my study schedule will consist of. I found it best to set this boundary as soon as the finals schedule is released, in order to avoid invitations that would compromise my time. This way everyone knows that you're preoccupied with something extremely important, and no one will even think to invite you out for drinks after work or to your cousins birthday party at the club Friday night. But don't worry you're not missing out. And if you feel like you are, there's always next year.
5. Give it all you got and don't leave anything on the table. I didn't do this my 1st semester and was very disappointed with myself for not doing so. After finals were over, I had a long conversation with myself and made a commitment to not half-step again. In the semesters that followed, as soon as I walk away from my last final exam, I've managed to leave campus without having or experiencing any regrets for not studying enough. Instead, I'm confident that I had put in the work and didn't leave anything on the table.
Hopefully, you find time to reflect on the routine(s) that have worked for you and implement them. If you're looking for new ideas, I hope that you manage to snag a few suggested here. All in all I have to admit that I really Iearned to love the adrenaline rush experienced during preparing for finals. Today it feels more heightened, primarily because the anticipation of graduation is upon me. The picture looks like this...I'm wearing a black robe standing in line on the side of the stage waiting to hear my name announced at the commencement ceremony. But first I need to nail two more finals and this law school experience will be officially over!
Good luck to you all and study well! And remember...It's only temporary...No regrets.