Returning to school after Spring Break is always an adjustment. You’ve relaxed, you’ve slept in, and, if you’re luckier than me, you’ve traveled to a tropical destination. Getting up for your 9 am lectures and spending late nights briefing cases can feel harder than ever, especially as the weather is starting to get warmer. I don’t know about you, but I thought it was much easier to hunker down and read when it was freezing cold and dark at 4 pm.
And yet, just as these factors are combining to make motivation for school drop to its lowest, we’re also approaching the home stretch of the semester when it’s the most crucial to keep motivation up.
If you need inspiration to keep going through these last weeks until summer, here are some tips.
1. Make a to-do list
We’re really starting off with something crazy here. If you already keep some sort of to-do list, as I’m sure most Type A law students do, feel free to move to the next point. But, if you don’t keep a consistent to-do list, this is one of the easiest steps you can take to get yourself going on whatever tasks have been building up. For instance, if your to-do list is exclusive to assignments, it can help you break up the day and manage your time more effectively.
However, when I say “whatever tasks have been building up,” I don’t mean simply school work. My to-do list has been known to be littered with daunting items such as “make the bed,” “water the plants,” or, one of my favorites, “call Grandma.” Adding these small things to a list in between longer or more intimidating assignments can give you easy wins throughout the day as you cross each one off.
2. Find a new study spot
If you feel like you’re in a rut as the novelty of the semester has worn off, changing your habits can make the work you’re doing feel new again. For those who like to work from home, try moving your desk to a new location, such as closer to a window to take advantage of the longer days. If you prefer to work on campus but the library has gotten old, find an empty classroom or a cozy armchair in a quiet hallway. Those of you who like to work in cafes or other places with background noise might also enjoy going to a public library or sitting in a park when the weather allows. Even something as small as getting a change of scenery can help invigorate you for finals season.
3. Talk to a gunner
You know the one. If you have a classmate who got a week ahead on assignments over Spring Break and/or has been outlining since January 22, start up a conversation with them and see what’s going on. Personally, my competitive side can only last a few minutes hearing about assignments I haven’t even thought about or study schedules already beginning before I feel downright obligated to get my act together.
4. Procrastinate productively
If you simply can’t get yourself motivated to do school work, do something else productive. This semester, I’ve been trying to prioritize going to the gym a few times a week. Is it always the best use of my time? Probably not, but it makes me feel good about myself. Similarly, when you find yourself reading the same sentences over and over, take a break and do something else useful. Cleaning your apartment or going for a walk (or writing a blog post) might not always be the most important thing to do, but it’s better than nothing and it’ll make you feel more motivated to get back on track.
5. Remind yourself why you’re here
Being in law school and constantly moving from assignment to assignment can make it easy to lose sight of the big picture. But you aren’t going to be a law student forever and, presumably, you came here with larger aspirations in mind. Whether you’re looking forward to achieving a lifelong goal of working in a particular practice area, or you’re simply looking forward to completing your time as a student, take some time to remember your goals so you’ll feel newly motivated to achieve them.
Tess Halpern is a first-year student at BC Law. Contact her at email@example.com.