While this article I was introduced to certainly doesn’t contain an answer for everything, it has a lot. Given the competitive, and time-consuming, environment of law school, it’s important to stay on track. Just a quick not from several parts of the article that you should try to keep in mind heading into law school to be successful.
1. Association - My first day of college I vowed this is what I would do. In high school I hung out with all kinds of people. A lot of them were people I grew up with and had been friends with for ages. Colleges was a fresh start, and law school will be yet another. Use it to your advantage. There’s a lot of people out there who drag you down and you don’t even think about it. We all have that friend who either only gets up with you when you can help them, or the friend who is just always bringing the group down. Cut them loose. Vowing I’d only be friends with people when it was healthy for both of us in college was probably the single best thing I’ve ever done to move my life into a more productive and worthwhile direction. I don’t mean be mean to people or use them. If someone’s smarter than you, great, learn from them. If someone struggles, try to teach them don’t show them (teaching someone something gives you a great new perspective on things and may allow you to know it better too). Get rid of the negative people and free loaders. Try to find groups where everyone can grow from one another. You’ll never have a time where it’s more easily than when you’re completely starting over like in law school.
2. Work harder, not smarter – We’ve heard it a thousand times. Have you really thought about it though? It’s easy to say, of course, I don’t like doing extra work. Live it for a change. I know I can’t get ANYTHING done in my apartment that’s remotely productive. Ask any of my friends, I go to the library when I have a paper or test. It’s the only way I can make myself work. Find where you can actually get work done. I use a change of location to guilt myself into the work. I don’t want to leave until it’s done. I also use specific locations to my advantage. My library has some areas where cell reception is impossible. I use this to isolate myself from the world. Take that and log yourself out of Facebook/Twitter and you might actually get something done. I like to actually log off, not simply close the tab so I have to type in my login information. I’ve caught myself hundreds of times typing in my username and password only to remember why I logged off the first time. It works, try it.
Also, don’t multitask. Being a generation of the internet we love to brag about how many things we can get done. Turn off the distractions. Some of my favorite software is writing software that fills your whole screen so you can’t just simply click something else or randomly browse the internet. You’ll be amazed how much work you can get done (and how quickly) if you just knock out each thing one at a time and don’t try to do ten things together at the same time.
3. Take action – Stop delaying. This is another reason I like to leave my apartment. Fewer distractions. I don’t decide to wash the dishes, make another meal, do the laundry, I do my work. Start now and it’ll be done quickly. Action and forcing yourself to make a choice helps exponentially.
4. Dress for Success (no, it’s not in the article, jeez) – This is something I heard time and time again in middle school and high school. Well, I finally heeded the advice. Sure, dressing nicely doesn’t do any work for you. However, it does change people’s perceptions of you and sadly, that’s 90% of the battle in social situations. When I first meet people and they discover what I want to do, nine times out of ten I get “you look like a lawyer”. Like I said, it doesn’t do any of the actual grunt work for you, but it’s better to think of you as competent and knowledgable. Let’s face it, if you’re a Supreme Court Justice but you look like you’re homeless or a thug, people will treat you like that. It’s a sad fact in the world we live in, but people treat you largely based upon how you present yourself. Dress for success. It doesn’t hurt and can only help.
*I am not saying wear a suit everyday or be ridiculous. I wear jeans probably half the time I’m doing anything. A few collared shirts and wearing something other than jeans once or twice throughout the week will really change how people perceive you.
I haven’t included everything in the article, and put my own spin on a lot of it. Having tried a few of the things in general, a tweak here or there can really have an impact in your life. Coming to college I promised myself I wouldn’t pay for cable at all for undergrad. It was difficult to do at first, but I’m so happy I’ve stuck to it. I don’t waste 20+ hours randomly in front of the television and I say the extra $50+ a month too. Now if I could only bring myself to get rid of Netflix for law school…