How to deal with attending law school with a full-time job

September 24, 2015

Law School Survival TipsAttending law school usually causes an acute reduction in free time.  And that’s just for full-time programs; if you are unfortunate enough to be working full-time while attending law school – as I was – your free time is largely non-existent.

So how do you survive the next four or so years?  Honestly, there’s no real way to make it easy.  But here are a few ways that you can make things ­easier.

Find a routine and stick to it

Most of the time, your work and school schedules will be consistent on a weekly basis.  Unfortunately, because of how much of your day is consumed by simply going to work and class, you may not believe that there is room in your schedule for anything else.

There almost always should be, though.  You just have to find it.  So, take a look at your schedule, and identify any spare blocks of time that could be filled with other activities besides school and work (I’ll get into some recommendations later in this article).

After you’ve put together your routine, try to follow it as consistently as possible.  Your time is limited, and you may only have time for activities besides work and school if you can carefully plan out your time.

Stay active

Assuming your day job is one in which you are sitting at a desk or are otherwise stationary, you are going to spend the vast majority of your time being sedentary.  There have been numerous studies documenting the long-term negative health consequences of this kind of inactivity, and while that is an important consideration, staying physically active has an immediate, direct impact on your day: it gives you energy.

That’s why you should make exercise a part of your daily routine.  Ideally, you can find time for a heavier exercise regimen alongside some light exercise throughout your day, but at the very least, you should always plan on some light exercise such as walking or taking the stairs on a daily basis.

Aside from the physical benefits, exercise often serves as a time for your brain to relax and recharge from all of the demands being made on it through work and school.

Get enough sleep

Although it may seem obvious, getting enough sleep is critically important to your success in law school.  A lack of sleep can affect your performance and mental energy throughout the day, thus causing you to be less effective both at work and at school.

Set a specific bedtime and a specific time that you wake up each day, and allot enough time for sleep that you feel well-rested.

It’s very tempting to try to add more time to your schedule by cutting down on your nightly sleep, but it’s typically unsustainable and will end up causing you to crash at one point or another.

Schedule regular time for relaxation

The old “all work and no play…” adage still holds true even if it seems that nearly all of your waking hours are consumed by work.  With your demanding schedule, you need to have some downtime every day in order to maintain your sanity.  As such, you should block out some time when planning out your routine for relaxation, even something as mundane as surfing the Internet, playing a game, or reading a book.  Even as little as 15 minutes can do a lot to revitalize your mental health and energy, so make sure that you’re taking your time every day.

Be efficient

We’ve already talked at length about how your time is limited.  You need to keep this in mind as you follow your routine, ensuring that you are able to accomplish what you need to within the time allotted.  Getting distracted can disrupt your entire schedule – which can cause you to not only fall behind in school, but also to lose out on your non-school/work activities.

Be transparent with family, friends, and your significant other about your time constraints

Although the constraints on your time are all too real to you, your family and friends likely don’t understand just how busy you are with school and work – which is why you should explain it to them.  This will allow them to be more understanding when you are unable to make social engagements, and it may even garner some proactive support from them to help you out in some of your more stressful periods.

If you have a significant other, you honestly should have already discussed this major life decision before deciding to undertake it.  Nevertheless, it’s important to have your significant other onboard with the path you’re taking and the severe time constraints attached thereto.

Law school by itself can strain social relationships, and a full-time job added to the mix greatly exacerbates this effect.  By offering full disclosure to your friends, family, and significant other, the hope is that they will have some measure of understanding for your increased absences, and can further offer some support when you need it.