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The humanity! [Mar. 31st, 2005|05:51 am]
[Current Mood |nervousfilled with dread]

I've come to a dread realization:

I have to start getting up at 4am and studying on weekday mornings again.

I'm going to wait until next week, as I am still coming off this nasty virus that is notorious for its relapse capabilities, but come Monday it's gonna be the 4am alarm, without fail. Because there are not enough hours in a weekend for me to get all my homework done.

Okay, this is not strictly true. If I bolt from the bed at 8am and study nonstop until 8pm both days, there are technically enough hours to get through it. But I have discovered something both obvious and frustrating: after about 4 hours, my efficiency goes into a nosedive. My brain just plain gets full, and there is no processing time. It helps to take a break and work out at that point, but even then I am only good for about one more hour of true quality homework. After that, I have to battle my way through every page, and I'm not getting nearly enough out of it, which is why my weekend study sessions then stretch past 8pm - I have so much left to do! Sunday deteriorates even further. I'm grouchy, frustrated, and not getting nearly as much done in the hours I'm devoting to it as I should.

It makes sense, really. I mean, how much knowledge can one actually be exposed to, digest, and learn at one time? My brain needs more time with the material. I'm getting through the readings, but I don't feel like I'm really learning the material.

I need to break my study sessions up into smaller chunks so my gray matter can spend more time with each part of it. The only time I have available comes in those chill morning hours. If I get up at 4, I can get in two hours of studying before working out at 6. That has, in the past, been good study time for me, but the downfall in it has been the way I didn't manage to stop studying at 6 and missed out on the working out part. I don't think that will happen this time, since I am much more motivated to work out. Still, it's a danger against which I must be vigilant.

The good news is that this should free up a little more recuperation time on the weekends, which counts as a Very Good Thing. Lack of down time was really eating at me. And I only need to do it for about 7 weeks to make it to the end of the semester. Then I have summer off.

I will have to make myself get to bed earlier, though. I wish I were one of those people who can function on 4 hours of sleep, but I'm not.

I'm sure it will all be fine....

[User Picture]From: dubheach
2005-03-31 12:57 pm (UTC)


This was a good thing for me to read. I have an exam or paper (sometimes both) due every week this month. I've been trying to figure out how to cram decent studying time in between moming three kids. I think you gave me the key to the answer. Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-03-31 01:51 pm (UTC)

Re: Thanks

LOVE the icon.

It's not a fun answer, but it does work. I can't study when I get home in the evening - my brain is too fatigued. Mornings work well.
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2005-03-31 01:46 pm (UTC)
I think one of the reasons Dan loves his long commute is he can get much of his reading done.

He doesn't have nearly as much work as you do, of course (but I am honestly suprised how much), but still, it's something to do and gets it out of the way. He also does stuff like practices his knots on the way in, with this very long, very fat piece of rope, which must look strange on the subway.

At least he's not practicing his hand signals on the train! :D

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-03-31 01:56 pm (UTC)
I like the days when I can take public transportation, because I use that time for pleasure reading - it's impossible to do school reading then because I can't take notes, and there is no point in reading lawbooks if I can't take notes.

Or napping. That can be vital, too, with this schedule.
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[User Picture]From: hookncrook
2005-03-31 03:39 pm (UTC)
When I was in college I did a bunch of reading on effective study techniques. The only thing that I found was scientists said don't study for more than 30 minutes at a time because in reality your brain takes in the first 10 to 15 minutes of what you are studying and then goes kinda comatose. They suggested if you study for more than 30 minutes take a break every hour for 15 minutes so that you'd get dounble the fresh start study session and only lose a bit more... Plus study to classical music because it helps open the subconsious (its annoying during tests though because you find yoruself humming Bache).

Also eat chocolate or candy while testing. Studies have shown that eating chocolate or sugar during testing can raise your test scores by 10 points or more. A whole grade level. I started doing it and my tests went from high 80's and low 90's to 99 and 100 plus extra credit! I'd bring enough cholcolate for the whole class and check with the teacher before hand, but they were all pretty open to the idea. (one of them is who turned me onto this research!)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-03-31 03:42 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Good tips, and it fits what I'm feeling. I may not limit myself to half hour segments (that whole Real Life thing), but by breaking it down into smaller chunks I will probably do better overall.

And, gee, an excuse to eat chocolate!
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[User Picture]From: trillian42
2005-03-31 04:17 pm (UTC)
Or, if the chocolates are pressing your luck, peppermints. Fewer calories, no fat, and they've been proven to aid concentration.
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[User Picture]From: yente
2005-03-31 04:14 pm (UTC)
I had some classes in which, during final exams, we'd get candy bars provided by the department's Alumni Association or some such. Never knew it might actually have been doing me some good :)
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[User Picture]From: nuala
2005-03-31 07:46 pm (UTC)
When in highschool, our French teacher handed out chewing gum for exactly that reason. We also called her Lurch, because that's who she looked like, but nevermind that... ;)
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-31 07:04 pm (UTC)
You're going about this law school thing the wrong way. I tried to get ONE insight per course after the first year (probably about three per course that first year, a real killer). Retention is far better, and in the long run your ability to analyze is the same, since it will always require research and new, up to date information.

For example, here's my contracts outline, which is one of the most complex, since I found it so interesting:

contract formation (shake hands)
damages (I might be pressed to name types in a pinch)
promisory estoppel (because it's fun)
agency (thrown in for extra credit and because it's useful.)

Yeah, that's about all I remember, that's useful. That, and the hairy hand case, which demonstrates making it up as you go, which is what attorneys do. That's the part I don't think you quite yet understand. Ability to creatively analyze on the fly is far more important than what you know.

Here's another course, to demonstrate just how brief these can get. The course is personal income tax:

Look at section 101 (of wherever the income tax code is found...)

That's it. The code is about two paragraphs long, by the way. That's literally all I needed to know and all I did know to get a B+ on the exam. Better than people who studied much more than the five hours I devoted, and I think I actually understand tax better. The point? Details don't matter--you can always look them up. Our income tax system is not actually complex. It is a simple and elegant system, hung with myriad small details. The trick is, don't get lost in them. They're easy to look up in the code. The reason you'll get 20 different tax returns from 20 accountants, with only one being technically correct, is that only one of the 20 has not gotten lost in the details. Because accountants tend to details.

Understand the basics and the structure. Get that part right, and you'll do fine on your exams and in practice. Lawyers screw up when they get bogged down in details and forget the basics. Enron, hello? Of course, keeping it simple and basic (and correct) might not make you the big bucks--smoke and mirrors tends to do that. But then you have to live with yourself too. The best of the best are those who cut through the smoke and mirrors, and this is done by focusing on the basics. Not by countering every stupid argument in minute detail with obscure precedent.

Know the basics, let the force flow, you'll do fine.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-03-31 07:26 pm (UTC)
It's getting past the finals that concerns me. Which has nothing to do with the actual practice of law. Good perspective, though - thanks, dear.
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From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-31 07:44 pm (UTC)
Ah--I've got a good example of failing the basics, from experience. On my copyright exam, I had a question dealing with making a karaoke-esque version of a song with the lyrics coming up on screen. The question came down to, does mandatory licensing (something that applies only to music) apply? Answer, no, because it's a derivative work, a multimedia presentation. A fundamental provision of the code, and a definition, and I would've gotten it right. Simple stuff. But no, I couldn't recognize _definition of derivative work_. Stupid mistake. At least 90%, maybe more, of what you will have to deal with on tests and in practice comes down to avoiding stupid mistakes.
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[User Picture]From: nuala
2005-03-31 07:42 pm (UTC)
Yup, here I am. Wondering when you'll actually get sleep time, get snuggle time, get dinner time, get breakfast, etc etc. (You got to fuss earlier, now it's my turn.) You know who you remind me of? Shannon. Geez.

Oh yeah, and I thought of you when I read today's Pearls:
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-03-31 07:46 pm (UTC)
Dinner will still be at the time that dinner is at, as will breakfast. I think I will actually have a bit MORE time for snuggling, since the weekends won't be so intolerably jammed with desktime.

Sleep? Sleep is the big question.

Oh, and this weekend is the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, which means an hour lost. Just when I DON'T need it. Grr.

Oh, well. It'll be light when I get out of school and that is VERY nice.

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[User Picture]From: spydielives
2005-03-31 09:38 pm (UTC)
Don't forget that there is lots of research to support the fact that you will retain what you have learned better if you get some rest after you have "learned" it. It gives the brain some downtime to firm up those long term memory connections.
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[User Picture]From: wundergeek
2005-04-01 04:06 am (UTC)
Think of it this way - the beginning of April means that the school year is almost over! You don't have to survive much longer. :)
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[User Picture]From: kathrynrose
2005-04-02 02:58 pm (UTC)
Maybe work out at 4? Then you'd be good and awake for the studying after, and that would keep you from studying through your work out time.

Also, you totally rock. (In case you had forgotten.)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-02 03:25 pm (UTC)
No, I can't work out when I first get up. I need at least an hour of awake time, some fluids, etc. Or I will hurt myself.
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