Get out of your bar exam rut!
Lessons learned from Marie Kondo
If you are feeling overwhelmed with the bar exam and need to get out of your bar exam rut, it may be time to take some advice from Marie Kondo’s new book, Joy at Work. These tips on decluttering and tidying up your workspace (or in this case, study space) will help you get motivated and get out of your bar exam rut!
This book is specifically focused on work but we found that many of Marie’s tips are applicable to law students and bar exam students. Here, we tell you a few tips borrowed from Marie Kondo.
Clean off your desk.
If you sit down to study and there are sticky notes, outlines, and materials everywhere, you are probably already starting off your day feeling distracted and overwhelmed.
Simply cleaning off your desk can have a dramatic effect on your mindset and your ability to stay focused and study.
Don’t just think of it as tidying, Marie Kondo warns. “Tell yourself that you’re designing a joyful place to work.” The idea is to make your workplace spark joy and positive energy.
Having a more joyful place to work will reduce stress and therefore make it easier to understand, learn, and retain information. Cleaning off your desk is the first step – and an invaluable step – in getting out of your bar exam rut!
Next, clean your general workspace – -that is, your shelves and the area around your desk.
Discard those old law school casebooks. You will not need them when you study for the bar exam or as a lawyer. And it is better to sell them or give them away while they are still relevant (and while professors are still teaching out of the edition you have!). Not only that, but getting rid of a bunch of clunky casebooks will free up space and spark joy!
The same goes for any old outlines, notes, or study materials.
Note: some lawyers find that their casebooks actually spark joy and go out of their way to maintain a colorful casebook collection from their law school years. If this is the case for you, feel free to keep your casebooks. In general, though, we find that casebooks do not spark joy for most ;)
When Marie Kondo was working in a traditional office setting, she would put her laptop, keyboard, and mouse away at the end of each day and take them out in the morning. She would wipe them down at the beginning of each day.
Every Monday, she would have a “deep-cleansing day” where she dusted the legs of her chair, crawled under her desk, and wiped down cords. She said it took “less than a minute” but made her desk area look so clean and tidy. She saw her workplace performance improve dramatically.
Engaging in small rituals like this can get your day off to the right start and improve your ability to focus.
Keep the materials that spark joy and discard the rest.
If you are taking the bar exam, you may have accumulated all kinds of bar exam outlines, flashcards, and resources. Just looking at your stack of materials, questions, and resources may be overwhelming.
Instead of stressing yourself out by keeping an overwhelming amount of materials, choose the ones that spark joy. (Note: don’t throw away your Real Property outline because it doesn’t spark joy! Instead, just choose the Real Property outline from your collection that sparks the most joy and discard the others!)
For most bar exam students, it is too difficult to completely discard study materials, especially when you may have paid a lot of money for them. If that is the case, put the outline or book away where it will not distract you and make a note to discard it as soon as you get those passing bar exam results!
Add joy to your workspace.
Once your desk is cleared off and your working space is decluttered, you may want to consider adding to your workspace.
Marie Kondo says that you can “add anything that lifts your spirits, such as a photo, postcard, or plant you particularly like.” Marie Kondo also sells some very nice joy-sparking items on her website.
However, you do not have to spend money to add joy. You may already have a trinket that sparks joy. Or it may be a matter of printing out a photo to add to your desk.
Choose your materials with care.
If you went through law school, you have probably accumulated all kinds of free pens, highlighters, and widgets from various companies. Instead of using whatever is available, be thoughtful about which utensils you keep in your desk drawer.
Marie Kondo gives some examples: i.e “start choosing pens that spark joy for you.” If you find you are using old pens, cheap giveaway highlighters, or promotional notepads that do not spark joy, it is time to reinvest in materials that spark joy. It is relatively inexpensive (and is free if this is just a matter of discarding the materials that don’t spark joy and using the ones that do!)
The fact is, you will spend a lot of time with your outlines and practice questions. You may as well be using writing utensils that you enjoy.
We recommend all of Marie Kondo’s books if you are looking to tidy up your home and mind. You can purchase her new book from amazon here!
(Note: affiliate links are used for amazon products we recommend. They are not used for any other links to external sites.)
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