Yesterday’s post was about the E + R = O mindset and how you can’t control what happens to you but you certainly can control how you deal with it. Below are some tools and strategies to help you embrace E + R = O as you deal with the challenges and stress of studying for the bar exam:
- Re-work your study plan and get rid of busy work. Stop “actively reading” the bar company outlines as if they are novels. Think of the giant commercial outline as an encyclopedia and stop attempting to read it from cover to cover. The outlines are reference tools that we go to when we don’t know something.
- Stop micro-managing yourself. Yes, you need a daily schedule but some days are better than others. Set goals in terms of ranges instead of absolutes (40-60 hrs/week, not 10 hrs/day); track what you have accomplished instead of what you haven’t, and accept that you are human and no one (even the bar examiners) expects perfection.
- Focus on practicing how to learn. You don’t know the material yet so stop trying to answer questions from memory. Use your notes and outlines to answer questions and learn in context. You will go off-note the first week of July when your brain has had time to process the material.
- Know your limits. Every day you will reach a point where your brain doesn’t want to cooperate. Your brain is trying to tell you that it’s done for the day. Listen to it. Stop studying and find something else to do: talk a walk, clean the apartment, spend time with friends, play with your dog, go see a funny movie.
- Take care of yourself. Eat right and exercise. You don’t have to give up caffeine or run 10 miles a day. Just drink some water, have an apple or carrot, walk around the block. You will be amazed at how much more energy and focus you have.
- Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Sleep makes an enormous difference in being able to manage stressful situations. It gives your body the defenses to fight disease. Getting sick will only add to your stress so get to bed before midnight and sleep 6-7 hours a night. Every night. Playing catch-up with sleep does not provide your body with the rest it needs.
- Avoid external stressors. If someone stresses you out because of their attitude, competitiveness, panic, etc. then stay away from that person. You can use the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech and (nicely) say that you are having trouble studying/focusing and are going to find another place to study.
- Believe in yourself. Enough said.