3 Ways to Help Prioritize Sleep, The Secret To Higher Quality Work

GUEST BLOG Harrison Thorne,
Graduate of UCLA Law

As a 1L, I really prioritized sleep. I’d get in bed at a certain time, no matter what.

As a 2L, I did not prioritize sleep. I got distracted doing various things, and before I realized, I would only catch five to six hours, tops.

Comparing my day-to-day operations from 1L to 2L year, I can definitively say that I noticed a huge difference. Well rested, I was more alert, focused better and was much more efficient. Conversely, when I was chronically tired, the opposite was true.

My advice, looking back, is to rededicate yourself to sleeping. I did. What worked for me 1L year and what I started implementing again was simple when I followed these three steps:

Fotolia_74211266_Subscription_Monthly_MStep 1: Watching television before bed is a bad idea. Sometimes I would take in a show before bed (I’m not perfect), but when I read for pleasure before turning off the lights, I found it much easier to fall asleep.

Step 2: I enjoyed some “sleepy time” tea before bed. It really helped relax my body as well as my mind.

Step 3: I liked to do some form of meditation before turning in. I really think that is a game-changer for me and would recommend it to anyone.

These three steps were pretty consistent in helping me get to sleep faster, sleep deeper and sleep more hours.

With all this in mind, there’s one thing I’d like to point that seems extra productive initially but ultimately counterintuitive to being able to perform at your best. A lot of people in law school would talk about how to get less sleep – usually in order to get more done or have more workable hours. However, after some of my own experimentation, I learned without a doubt that it’s actually better to miss out on an extra hour or two of work, if the work you do is of a higher quality (because of the extra sleep).

All those small, yet vital, things to do during 2L finals prep

It’s November. Classes are almost over. Final exams are close now.

This semester really flew by. By now, you should have your outlines complete and study questions ready. It is obvious that you should work on memorizing the rules and how to apply them, but what else should you be doing to prepare for exams?  Here are a few suggestions.

  • Keep track of your study hours. This may sound a little crazy, but it is helpful to hold yourself accountable. There are a few ways to do this. You can write down the amount of hours you will study on a calendar. This is a good idea so that you do not schedule anything else during that time. You could also create a spreadsheet to track the amount of time you studied and to track what material you studied. By writing down the amount of hours that you studied, you are able to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment after finals are over. This may also help to create efficient study habits for other exams or even for the bar exam. This is also great practice for the future when you will be billing clients.
  • Ask questions. This is pretty self-explanatory. It is so important to ask questions while you are studying because you do not want to memorize the incorrect rule. So go to your professor’s office hours, shoot them an email or bounce questions off of your friends.
  • Find a study method that works for you. It is pertinent to determine the best study method early on in law school. You may find that studying in a large group is helpful. Or you may find that you like the complete opposite. You may like studying with one, or two, other people because it’s helpful to ask questions. However, it is incredibly easy to get distracted when studying with others, so make sure you try to stay on track.
  • Find a study area that works for you. As important as it is to find out what the best study method is, where you study is almost equally as important. Studying at your house or apartment may be convenient, but it may be full of distractions such as roommates, pets or T.V. You may like studying in the library, a coffee shop or somewhere else where you can zone in and optimize productivity. This could take some trial and error, but by this time in the semester, you should have a few options to use if your main spot is unavailable.
  • Sleep. This cannot be emphasized enough. All-nighters have a bad rap and for good reason. You will retain much more information if you have a decent night of sleep. It is so, so, so important to give your brain a rest from rules and cases.