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Study-life balance as a law student

Study-life balance as a law student

Cassandra Zhou

24/01/2022

Reading time: four minutes

People who know me often ask how I manage to study for an MSc degree in AI and the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at the same time but still have a decent study-life balance.

I make time for family and friends, and we often go for long nature walks to stay healthy.

How do I juggle so many different commitments?

There are three things I always keep in mind:

  • time management;
  • physical health; and
  • mental health.

It sounds straightforward, but I will include some of my examples of integrating them into my life to make this article more helpful for you. 

Time management

Time management is arguably the most crucial aspect of my study-life balance. The more efficient we are, the more we can accomplish in less time. 

Read this LCN Blog: ‘Simple ways to improve your work/life balance.’

Prioritise

Each task has its associated importance and urgency; for instance, a law exam might be important but distant in the future, while grocery shopping is less important but needs to be done sooner.

I use the Eisenhower matrix to visualise my tasks in four categories;

  • I do the important and urgent tasks immediately;
  • schedule some other time for the important but not urgent tasks;
  • delegate urgent but unimportant tasks; and
  • forget about unimportant ones that are not urgent either. 

Check out this LCN Blog: ‘Inbox management – get started early.’

Daily to-do list

I schedule all my study tasks (exams, online lectures, worksheets due etc.) in the calendar of an app on my laptop, and in the morning, every day, I get a new, automated to-do list tailored for me. Almost any organisation app can do this, or you can use handwritten lists and arrange your tasks manually. The key is to start each day with a plan. 

The five-minute principle

Very few people can remain motivated and energised all the time; I, for one, cannot. However, I have a psychological trick to cope with low motivation when there’s something mandatory to do – I tell myself that “I will do this for just five minutes”.

Often, I keep doing the task after the five-minute mark and persevere through it - then I realise that the most challenging part is not the task itself; it’s making an actual start on it when your motivation is low. 

Physical health

A healthy body helps me feel energised and easier to maintain my focus. I am not a big fan of hardcore workout sessions, but that’s ok. Instead, I try my best to walk to our local duck pond or the shops each day. It’s incredible how much a little fresh air can do for me.

You can discover your form of exercise; the key is to be active daily. 

Read this LCN Says: ‘Exercise and wellbeing: how to sustain a successful legal career.’

Sleep well

Having a consistent and healthy amount of sleep each day is one of the simplest things you can do to maintain your physical health. To fall asleep quicker, avoid looking at your phone or laptop before bed.

Instead, read a paperback book or take a hot shower to wind down. To wake up more easily, roll up the blinds in your bedroom and let the sunshine and natural light outside wake you up painlessly. 

Check out this LCN Blog: ‘How to avoid dozing off in law school.’

Mental health

Last but not least, I will emphasise the importance of a healthy state of mind. 

Read this LCN Features: ‘Mental health and the legal profession: the impact of covid-19.’

Stress and anxiety management

it’s normal to get stressed out once in a while, especially when there is a lot to do. I have learned not to eradicate my stress and anxiety but to accept and coexist with them. For me, meditation is a great way to recognise the root causes of my stress and anxiety and regain my headspace.

Distracting myself from them with my hobbies, such as reading and cooking, also helps make stress and anxiety more manageable. 

Stop comparing yourself with others

You are enough. There is always going to be someone smarter, prettier or just luckier. What you need to do is to compare with your former self and keep the focus on you.

Be proud of every little thing you achieve because it means much more to you than anyone!