Northeastern University School of Law

Thriving in Law School: Time Management

One of the things you must do in law school, if you aren't already skilled at it, is learn to manage your time. You will be assigned so much reading that it is hard to imagine ever doing it all. But, if you manage your time effectively, you will maximize your opportunities to keep up on your reading.

The first thing to do is to find out how you are spending your time now. I suggest keeping a log of your activities for a week. I recommend a week so that you can see how you spend your weekend time as well as your time during the week. Write down how you spend your time and how long each activity takes. You might find it to your advantage to use a log because it allows you to see a whole week at once. You can get a copy of a log by downloading it  or from the Academic Success Program. Don't forget to include:

  1. Classes and any meetings you attend (APALSA, BLSA, C.A.I.R., LaLSA, OWLS, Queer Caucus, etc.),
  2. Any additional academic activities you attend (Legal Writing Workshop, Analytical Skills Workshop, a one time workshop on Outlining, etc.),
  3. Time you spend on daily living activities such as meals, sleep, exercise, recreation, family obligations, commuting,
  4. Time you spend working at, for example, a part-time job or work study, and
  5. Time spent watching t.v., listening to music, talking on the phone and/or hanging out with friends.
Total up the time accounted for above. What's left is the time you have available to spend on reading for classes and/or working on written assignments. If it isn't much, you need to think about which of the above activities you can decrease or cut out. Obviously, the activities listed in # 5 above are the things you will most likely look to first for cuts.

Once you have this basic information, you can plan your schedule to build in study time. Here's how:

  • Print out or photocopy another log sheet.
  • Write in all dates assignments are due and dates of final exams (midterms too, if any).
  • Block out all class times, additional academic activities, commuting, and meetings you must attend.
  • Block out time for meals, exercise, family obligations, and sleep.
  • Block out times you will study, specifying which subjects you will study during each time, and the times you will spend working on written assignments.
Once you have filled in all of your necessary weekly activities, you can photocopy this log several times. This allows you to use it as a weekly "master plan" without having to write in your routine activities every week. You can also see your free times and plan other activities for those times.

Once you've planned your master weekly schedule, it may seem as though there is very little time left for fun. Law school is a very time consuming enterprise and you will likely find that there isn't much free time available to you. That's one of the reasons it is important to make the most of the time you do have and to plan it wisely.

If you find you don't have enough time to read everything and do everything you want to do, you might find some help in the Academic Success Program. Come by and let's see if we can assist you.