Studying for the bar is difficult and having to study during the holidays can make it even more of a challenge. You want to spend time with your family and partake in all of the holiday traditions without falling behind in your studies. So, how do you find the balance? Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holidays while studying for the bar exam!
1. Be Up Front With Your Family
Unless you have a family full of attorneys, they likely won’t fully understand how serious the bar exam is and how much studying is required. Before all the holiday events start, sit down with them, explain your situation, and thank them for understanding. Your family doesn’t want to put any additional stress on you, so be honest with them about the amount of time you’ll need to study and any family activities you know you’ll have to miss. They may be disappointed they won’t get to see you, but know that they support you and want you to do what’s best for you!
There’s the annual family Christmas shopping trip, a Christmas party at Aunt Jane’s house, Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma’s, Christmas breakfast at Uncle Mike’s, Christmas dinner at your parent’s, and a post-Christmas gift swap with your best friends. You already have a hefty list of activities, and you haven’t even started thinking about New Year’s. If you’re studying for the bar exam, you may not be able to attend every get together, and that’s okay. As the invites roll in, take a minute to think before committing. Make a list of the holiday traditions and activities you absolutely don’t want to miss and make sure to set aside time for those. You may have to pass on some fun activities, but it will be worth it to have sufficient study time.
3. Make A Schedule, And Stick With It
Create a calendar with your holiday activities, down time, and study time that you can use to keep yourself on track. Be specific and intentional with your study time by mapping out exactly what you want to accomplish during that time. Since you’ll be extra busy around the holidays, it’s even more important to make sure you’re maximizing your study time and staying on task. Share the schedule that you create with your family, so they can help keep you on track, and will know when you’ll be unavailable.
4. Find A Quiet Place To Study
This is especially true if you’re visiting family for the holidays. You may not be able to go the library at your school or study in the silence of your own house. With everyone home for the holidays, it can get a bit chaotic and you may find it hard to focus on bar studying while your family is wrapping presents or baking cookies in the next room. Come up with a list of a few study spots that might work for you. Maybe there’s a local public library, a quiet coffee shop, or a room in the house that’s more secluded. Think about how you like to study and find a space that mimics that feel.
5. Utilize Your Travel Time
If you’re taking a plane, train, or bus to get to your holiday destination, don’t spend that travel time catching up on TV shows or scrolling through Instagram. Public transportation may not be the most convenient, or comfortable, place to study, but getting some of your work done before you get to your destination will give you more free time to spend with family and friends.
6. Don’t Forget About Sleep
When you’re trying to squeeze in a bit more study time, it can be tempting to stay up later than the rest of your family or get up extra early. That’s perfectly fine, but make sure you’re not sacrificing your sleep. Most of us aren’t at our best when we’re tired. Lack of sleep will make it harder for you to focus on your studies and you won’t enjoy your time with your family as much. So if it comes down to sleeping or studying, you may want to get that extra hour of zzzz’s.
7. Treat Yourself
Studying for the bar exam is not a punishment, so don’t treat it like one. It’s okay to put the books down and watch your favorite holiday movie with your family or grab coffee with an old friend. Taking a short break to get some holiday cheer will help keep your spirits up and motivate your studying. Yes, the bar exam is important, but so is your mental health. Make sure you take time this holiday season to celebrate and cut yourself some slack.