Procrastination—we’re all guilty of it. It is easy to keep postponing an unpleasant (but important) task like studying for the bar exam. Sometimes we’re procrastinating and don’t even know it. Though it's less obvious than spending your precious time on Netflix binges, telling yourself that you study better under pressure or that you need to be in your favorite spot in the library to be productive are common forms of procrastination.
Recognizing how you procrastinate is part of the challenge. The other part is learning how to stop procrastinating and start studying.
Make a schedule
Making a study schedule is one of the most proactive things you can do. Be as detailed and specific as possible; map out everything: how many hours you’ll spend studying, what topics you will cover, and which practice questions you will do. Making a schedule with daily and weekly deadlines will hold you accountable for the information you need to process each day. If you only have the bar exam as your deadline, it will be much easier to procrastinate and much harder to pass the bar. Creating a schedule will break your studying down into individual sessions, making it feel less overwhelming.
Find someone or a group of your peers who are also taking the bar exam. Check in with each other once or twice a week to help you stay on track and focused. Having a support system will keep you motivated. It’s also nice to talk to someone who is dealing with the same bar exam stress that you are. It will be harder for you to procrastinate if you know that someone is going to ask you about what you're supposed to be studying.
Get rid of distractions
You'd be surprised how much time you waste on your phone and social media—especially when you should be studying. Between Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and texting, the distractions are nonstop. You may say to yourself that you’ll only be on Facebook for a few minutes. But the reality is you’ll probably be on for at least an hour, getting lost in your news feed. Log yourself out of your social media accounts so it will be more of a hassle to check them. If that doesn’t stop you, consider getting an app or google chrome plugin to limit the time you can spend on these sites. Leave your phone in your backpack, or put it on “do not disturb” mode to avoid distractions.
Set up a reward system to celebrate the progress you are making. If you have completed your study goals for the week, treat yourself to dinner with a friend, a movie, or any fun activity. Studying will be much easier if you know that a reward is waiting for you at the end of the week.
Visualize passing the bar
Imagine how horrible it would feel to get an email letting you know that you failed the bar exam. Now imagine getting the email telling you that you passed the bar exam. Your study efforts can lead to one of these two outcomes, and hopefully it will be the latter. Every time you find yourself procrastinating, visualize passing the bar exam and how rewarding it will feel. Then visualize failing it and imagine how crushed you will be. Acknowledge the reality and accept that studying for the bar exam is unpleasant, but remind yourself of the benefits if you pass. Let your future motivate you to kick your procrastination to the curb and keep on studying.