Last fall, I was working as a full time analyst at Barclays Capital Inc. and trying to apply to law school. I struggled trying to organize enough time to devote to studying for the LSAT, applying to law school, and applying for scholarships. Below are a few life lessons that I learned throughout the way:
1. Make room for “A Time” and “B Time” in your schedule.
There are some tasks that require your full attention or “A Time.” These tasks include taking an LSAT practice test, drafting your personal statement, etc. Most of your A Time should be scheduled over the weekend or on days where you do not have to work. This allows you to approach these tasks with a clear and rested mind. There are other tasks that can be completed with less diligence or care. Depending on the individual, these tasks may vary but could include grading your LSAT practice test for accuracy, filling out basic information on law school applications (such as your name, date of birth, etc.) I found it helpful to do these types of tasks in the evenings after I finished working. It is very important that you figure out the days and times in which you can devote A Time or B Time to your work so that you can manage your expectations and engage in reasonable tasks with the amount of time that you are allotted.
2. Block out times in your schedule to work on your tasks.
If you are trying to work a full time job and apply to law school, you absolutely need to use a physical or virtual calendar. While I am sure that you already pencil in meetings or events on your calendar, you also need to get into the habit of penciling in time devoted to completing certain tasks. Rather than promising yourself that you will “work on applications when you get home from work”, you need to create a clear deliverable for yourself such as “edit two paragraphs of personal statement from 7:00-8:30 PM”. This ensures that you are holding yourself accountable to your goals but also makes sure that your “work time” is not blending in with time that you need to relax and take care of yourself.
3. Create Reasonable Deadlines.
The tricky part about the law school application is that (for the most part) law school have rolling deadlines. The lack of a clear deadline pushes people to procrastinate on all of their applications until the last day that applications are accepted. Generally, you should try applying to schools earlier into the rolling application cycle. However, this is can only be done if you set clear deadlines for yourself. You should have clear dates in mind of when you want to apply to each school by and you need to try to stick to them. This will make your life a lot easier and prevent you from scrambling to submit everything in February or March.
If you are having a hard time completing your work assignments and your law school applications, you need to communicate to your supervisors that you are having this issue. Some supervisors are used to employees leaving to attend graduate school so they may be able to cooperate with you and offer you some help (i.e., giving you a lighter work schedule on the weeks leading up to your LSAT or allowing you more flexible hours on days when you have big deadlines coming up).