How to Create a Manageable Reading Schedule for Law School


Happy Hump Day!

For those in the middle of their first week of law school or law school orientation- stay strong! You are halfway there!

To continue my Law School series for 1L's, I am talking today about my top tips for creating a manageable reading schedule for law school- particularly for 1L year (but I have used these tips beyond 1L year).



You will probably hear the same advice a million times when starting law school and that is to treat law school like a 9-5 job. I think there is some truth to this and it works really well for some people. However, it does not work for everyone. I am one of the people who can't do law school "9-5".

My reading schedule during my 1L year looked pretty much like this:

I would generally do my reading in the afternoons and evenings. I would go to my daily classes (usually from 9-3), come home, have a snack and then take a brief break. After a day full of classes which exhausts your brain, I just needed an hour to relax and not think about the law- I would usually watch an episode of something on Netflix and cuddle with my pups during my break.

After my little break, I would get into my reading for the next day or getting a jumpstart on the day after that. I would work consistently until it was time to make dinner. This was my next mental break- I would cook dinner, eat with my husband and relax with him for about an hour to catch up about our days. After this, it was back to the books until I was finished for the night. I would usually work until 11:30-12:00 at night during my 1L year because my readings would take me forever as I was still not really sure what to do and how to be efficient.

I never had Friday classes so I would always take Thursday night off- after 4 days of non-stop mental exercise, I was due for a mental break. (Some 1L's at my school had Friday classes so that is why I put that in the schedule graphic). My Fridays off became my catch up day- I caught up on things around my house and spent a large chunk of the day reviewing and outlining. My Friday evenings were left open for date night with my hubby.

I always took Saturdays off to spend time with my husband. The weeks were so busy for us between his work and my classes that we needed a day to just catch up and spend time with each other. As exams got closer, Saturday's would start to involve some studying but I always made a point to spend as much time with my husband as I could.

Sunday was my organization day. It was a time to prepare for the week, get a jumpstart on reading for the week, finish up any outlining and reviewing I was unable to do on Friday and go over my planner to make sure I knew what the upcoming week would entail. I would usually take the morning to be lazy and have a big breakfast and then around noon, start prepping for the week.

As you can see from my roughly outlined schedule, I didn't really abide by the "9-5" rule. I know a lot of people who did that and it worked great for them but it just wasn't the case for me. I have always been a huge night owl. I would rather stay up until 3am and sleep in order to get my stuff completed. Obviously, this doesn't work when you have an early class but generally, I am more productive at night than in the morning. This brings me to my first tip:

1. Know what Works for You
Everyone is different. What works for your study schedule may not work for others. I didn't really do the 9-5 thing and my schedule worked for me. I knew I needed some breaks through the day and would be at my most productive from 7-11 at night. Figure out what works best for you and don't let anyone talk you out of it. If your system isn't working; keep trying new things until you hit upon the thing that works.

2. Try to Work Ahead 
I think there is something very valuable about working ahead a bit. Whenever I finished reading for the following day, if it wasn't too late and I had some mental stamina left, I would start working on reading for the next day (as you can see on the graphic). This always made me happy because I felt like I was ahead of the game. It also allowed me to break up big reading into smaller chunks which makes it more manageable. Also, if something came up through the week, it was okay because I was a little bit ahead in my reading and had time to deal with something randomly popping up.

3. Establish a Routine
I think one of the best things you can do is to establish a routine for getting your reading done and stick with it. It doesn't really matter what the routine is, so long as it works for you and you stick to it. It takes a lot of stress off my shoulders when I have a routine established because I know everything is allocated to its time. 1L year can be crazy and daunting- having a set routine will make it a little easier.

4. Use the Pomodoro Method 
In order to get your readings done efficiently, I highly suggest using the Pomodoro method. This is a study timing technique that maximizes your time and efficiency. Basically, you work solidly for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break and keep repeating this a few times until you take a 30-minute break. I get very easily distracted when reading if I do not do this. I have an app on my phone called Forest that takes care of the timing for me as well as yelling at me when I pick up my phone in the middle of study time. It truly helps me to be way more productive and efficient in getting my reading done.

5. Take Good Notes 
This is unrelated to reading schedules but I do highly suggest taking good reading notes! You can read more about how I take reading notes in this post: HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR LAW SCHOOL READING SKILLS

There you go! I hope this is helpful! 

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