Whether you are only just starting bar prep or hitting the books for the second or third time, getting bored with the material and your routine can happen quickly and often. When you are feeling very “over it” it is essential to be prepared with strategies to help you get back into your study groove! Simply changing when and how you do things can keep you engaged and, in turn, a more efficient student.
Here are some ways to stay alert and engaged in your studies when you are practically falling asleep at your desk:
1. Vary your Schedule
When you feel stuck, sleepy or bored—make it your goal to make progress, no matter how small. While it is important to stick to a schedule and the commitments you set for the day, it can really make a difference to switch up your usual if you are losing momentum.
Try out scheduling variations. For example, if you usually practice memorization in the morning followed by a lecture or multiple-choice questions, then rearrange the order in which you usually do things. If you typically work on essays mid-day, then move it to the first thing in the morning— that will certainly wake you up! Use this remix method every now and then to keep you on your toes.
2. Change your Study Space
This idea may initially seem frustrating since you’ve likely put a lot of work into carving out that special study zone space for bar prep. This suggestion is to get you thinking about minor ways you can add variety to your study location if it has become too routine. For example, if you are studying in a library, change rooms or floors. If you are studying at a desk in your room, temporarily re-focus to another space in your home such as a balcony or the dining room. You can even change up your current space by adding plants and/or candles and even noise-cancelling headphones to make an adjustment for increased focus and calm.
3. Prepare for the real thing
Preparing for the real thing can help you stay alert because you are refining your exam day routine, which can be like a fun experiment. In this trial period you are experimenting with the ideal morning routine and paying attention to changes you may need to make. For example, if the breakfast was too filling or not enough to get through a morning studying block, now you have the information to plan differently. Some suggestions to get you started include: setting an alarm for the time you need to be ready for exam day, eating the meal you think will help you stay most focused and fueled during the exam, and thinking about what you’ll need to pack for exam day. Go about the morning the way you usually do (i.e., exercise, walking dogs, etc.) and see how long that takes you. Did the morning go smoothly? Or do you have changes to make? Do this occasionally and over time until you get the exam day A.M. routine down to a science.
4. Reward yourself
Incentivize yourself with rewards! We all love rewards, and you can add this to your studies. These rewards aren’t going to take you away from your studies but add some sunshine to a dull routine. For example, take your studies to the park, on a hike, or a local café for a change. If you are worried that you cannot study if there are other people around, remember that occasional distractions are helpful if you are taking the exam in-person since you will encounter proctors speaking and hundreds of exam takers typing away.
5. Experiment with techniques
Enhance your studying by trying out different methods to learn the material. This is especially helpful if you are trying to figure out your learning style or trying to learn new methods that work well for your learning type. See if any of the following are things you might want to try:
- Create a song to a rule
- Phone a friend and ask them to quiz you on rules
- Talk out the rules and hypotheticals with a friend
- Record yourself reading your notes and play it back
- Try writing out the rule 3-5 times
- Draw an illustration of the rule
6. Participate in a challenge
Everyone loves a challenge! Physical challenges such as a push-up, pull-up, burpee or a squat challenge have the bonus of benefitting your health. Incorporate fun physical challenges into your scheduled breaks. You never know if such an activity will become the outlet you need to decompress after sitting through hours of practice and on exam day. This method can also serve to increase your mental stamina. When you feel like quitting or if you get discouraged, you can practice literally pushing yourself through tough moments and channel that strength into your studies.
Know that you are not alone and plenty of students are also struggling with pushing through daily. Show up for yourself each day and don’t give up on trying something new! You have what it takes to make it to the finish line.