A proper study space is essential to your success in law school. Without a place to study you cannot reasonably expect to learn the voluminous amount of material that you will need to know for your final exams and eventually the bar. Thus, it is critical that you take the time to set up a study space that works for you. Here are some tips:
1. Decide Where you Work Best
Everyone is different, and each individual will have a different studying style that will require a different study space. Some students need complete quiet (to the point where you can hear a pin drop) to absorb information. Other students do better with a little background music or a quiet din that they can easily tune out. Still others require a place with a good deal of noise where they can easily take several breaks while they study. Determine whether or not noise and other distraction affect you when you study. Also establish whether you can sit quietly studying for long periods of time or if you need to take short breaks every few hours before returning to you work. All of these factors will be critical to discovering where you might work best. Here are some suggestions based on the abovementioned factors.
- Complete Silence: Library, Bedroom
- Quiet Music: Common Room in Your Home, Anywhere with Headphones
- Noisy w/ Break: Coffee shop, Restaurant
2. Be Comfortable but Not Cozy
It is important that you be comfortable while you study, but not too comfortable! You should be seated at a desk or a table as opposed to on your bed or on a couch. The desk/table provides a place to place your computer and all of your other materials. A desk chair, while comfortable is formal enough to keep you awake as opposed to an armchair that might coax you into sleep. Also make sure that you have adjusted your seat so that it is not too high or too low in comparison to the desk or the floor. Lighting is also very important – you need adequate lighting to be able to see both your computer screen and your text books. If you are at home, consider using a desk lamp for extra light. If you are in public, sit near a natural light source like a window, or strategically place yourself under a light fixture. Another thing to consider is the temperature of the room you are in; a climate that is too hot could make you drowsy while a temperature that is too cold could take your attention away from studying.
3. Stay Stocked on Supplies
Make sure that you have everything you need at your fingertips. The last thing you want is to sit down to study and realize you have run out of notecards, lost all your highlighters, or broken all your pencils. Some of the most common items that you should have in your study space include:
- Index cards
- Surge protector
- Black’s Law Dictionary
- Earplugs and/or headphones
Also, while it is not technically a supply, make sure that you have plenty of outlets available for your use. This is generally not a problem in your bedroom or house, but can get to be one if you study in a public place. Even though your computer may hold a long charge, you never know when you will have to plug it in, and you don’t want that to be the deciding factor as to when your study session should end.
4. Establish Study Rules
Create a study schedule for yourself and stick to it. Make your study schedule known to your friends and family so they know you are busy at those designated times and are less inclined to distraction or bother you.
5. Stay Organized
One of the most important things when it comes to your study space is that it remains organized. If you desk is piled high with papers or you fail to pack the necessary supplies when you head the local coffee shop, you are not going to be able to study. If you are studying at home, after each study session, clear you desk, file papers, close books, put pens in their proper spot, and clear any cups or dishes that you may have collected throughout the day. This way your space is ready for you the next time you sit down to study. If you study outside your house, make a check lit of items that you need to bring with you in order to study. Go through the checklist each time you leave your house so that you know you are not forgetting something you may need.