Being productive during the bar exam is a tricky task. There is a lot of information and a lot of time during the day. Deciding how to prioritize that time and balance between studying and relaxing is an art that no one has been fully able to explain… until now.
SparringMind.com recently released a video explaining the science behind our productivity. Let’s take what they said and apply it to your bar exam.
1) Don’t Use Willpower.
Don’t try to ‘will’ your way through studying for the bar. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Instead, follow a few sound principles on how your brain is designed and use that to your advantage.
2) Just Get Started.
Many times we delay doing an activity because our mind wanders towards all the long, difficult things we will have to encounter. For example, we might not start doing a performance test because we have to read a bunch of cases, go through long fact patterns, and have to think too hard.
But, don’t focus on finishing and all the hard parts… yet. Just focus on starting the task. Once you start, the Zeigarnik effect will take place in your mind – the effect that makes you want to complete a task after you started it.
So, whether it’s taking a performance test, an MBE practice test, or doing an essay, just turn on the timer and at least start it. Once you do that, you’ll be over the most challenging part from a productivity stand point.
3) Do a Power Packet Bar Prep Study Session.
Don’t practice longer hours. Practice Shorter Hours more deliberately. Ten hours of studying in the library doesn’t mean you got a TRUE 10 hour workday in.
We both know you were not being fully productive during that time. It’s actually impossible.
Instead, do power study sessions. Go at your studying in short bursts and relax in between. Periods of intense work, followed by breaks frequently throughout the day will get you better results and make your more productive!
4) Do 90 minutes of work and 15 minutes of break.
Neuroscience shows that we are most productive throughout the day if we work for only 90 minutes and then take a break. If you push over the 90 minute mark, you are draining your energy and at the end of the day wonder why you feel so tired.
During your 15 minute breaks, make sure to relax. Grab your copy of the Relaxation MP3 I designed or the Bar Exam Mental Edge Package, which has relaxation and visualization audios – most of which are about 15 to 20 minutes long you can listen to on your breaks.
5) Set deadlines for yourself.
I know it can be hard to plan exactly what you are studying and when during the bar exam. If you can do it and your mind works that way, do it. At a minimum, whenever you start studying, set the timer for 90 minutes and stop when it goes off. Grab a drink of water, a good snack, and listen to the relaxation audios I mentioned above.
6) Create an Accountability Chart to Track Bar Exam Prep Activities.
Do you ever wonder how much you are ACTUALLY getting done during the day? Well, it’s quite simple. At your study table, have a blank sheet with two columns.
In the left column, write out the time period you were studying. In the right column, write down what you actually did. Include specific times of study and specific amounts of what you studied, such as “9 to 10:30AM. Completed 1 practice tort exam. Reviewed 1 practice tort exam.”
This way, you can actually track what you are getting done, how your hours invested are being returned with accomplished work, and track if what you are doing is working or not.
7) Don’t Multi-Task.
In fact, I hope you are not reading this in the middle of a study session. Multi-tasking has consistently demonstrated lower productivity amongst those who do it.
The reason is because of the mental energy that is required to ‘come back’ to the task you were initially working on. When added up, there is a lot of time and energy lost by constantly switching gears and having to re-align your thoughts and focus, with what you were doing initially.
Do your short burst of studying 90 minutes, then check your facebook after. It will feel a lot better as well!
8) Write what you want to accomplish the next day before sleeping at night.
You may not know what to study a week out from today, but you can probably have a good idea what you should be studying tomorrow. Before you go to sleep, take a few moments, and write down the tasks you want to accomplish tomorrow.
This will not only allow your subconscious mind to go to work over night to get you ready, it will also help you be better focused the next day so you can spring out of bed and hit the ground running.
9) Split larger tasks into bite-sized ones.
When thinking of the bar exam, it can be an overwhelming thought indeed! Instead of thinking… ‘ohhh, the Bar Exam…” and getting overwhelmed, break it down into parts.
You have about 12 essay topics. You should take about 6 full practice essays per topic. Take 2 per day for 3 or 4 days. If you have class in the morning, schedule the essays for the afternoon or evening.
10) Get enough sleep.
Lack of Sleep can be the silent killer. Cognitive scores drop quickly and significantly when you don’t sleep for long periods. Get 7 to 8 hours per night.
The point is to take what you are doing and chunk it down.
Want more bar exam body tips from our Neuroscience friends? Check out the Bar Exam Body Podcast.