**Note: This article was originally written during the beginning months of the coronavirus pandemic when many states were under stay-at-home orders. However, LSAT motivation comes and goes for us all regardless of whether there’s a pandemic or not, so I’m hoping that many of the tips discussed here will still be helpful post-pandemic as well.
Now that we are all stuck in our homes for the foreseeable future, I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media saying that it can be difficult to find the motivation to continue working on LSAT material. Stress is high. Everything is uncertain. Our normal lives are out the window. So how can we get back into an LSAT study routine when life itself seems to lack routine? I’ve definitely had my own share of unproductive time recently, but I wanted to share what has been working for me in the hopes it helps your own LSAT motivation.
I’ve actually read a lot of blog posts and watched so many YouTube videos on how to be productive during our time stuck at home. But I feel like most of it is overly idealistic or doesn’t fully recognize the difficulty of being productive when things are psychologically so tough. So my goal in this post is to give you realistic ways you can restart your LSAT studying and reclaim your LSAT motivation. But I also want to recognize that it’s okay not to be a productive powerhouse at this time.
LSAT Motivational Tip #1: Restrict your news consumption
If you are prone to anxiety, it’s easy to go overboard watching the news, reading articles, or listening to press conferences. It is of course important to be informed, but the more we expose ourselves to the scary stories out there, the more we keep ourselves in a high anxiety state. It’s hard to come down from that anxiety to focus on more “mundane matters” like the LSAT. So if you find that you are getting addicted to the news, give yourself a limited number of times to check in with what is going on. Your sanity will thank you.
LSAT Motivational Tip #2: Practice self-care
This one is super important, although we often forget it. LSAT students in particular can be a bit intense about productivity. But if we focus too much on trying (and failing) to be productive, it’s easy to slip into burnout and anxiety. Self-care helps bring down our anxiety level, which in turn allows us to re-center and refocus on our goals. Self-care looks different person to person, but may include:
- Taking a bath
- Going for a walk
- Whatever you find relaxing
Self-care could also look very unique to you. My own self-care at this time has included stereotypical things like journaling and taking a bath, but has also included house cleaning and growing basil.
This might not seem related to LSAT on the surface, and you might even worry that taking time for self-care will take away from your time for LSAT. But the reality is that recentering ourselves can give us the energy to sit down for LSAT prep. Without it, it’s too easy to just sink into Netflix binges…
LSAT Motivational Tip #3: Use passive strategies to re-spark motivation
When the prospect of opening up your LSAT books and working through practice problems seems daunting, look for smaller, less mentally taxing ways to still engage with the LSAT. Perhaps listen to a podcast, or watch a YouTube video on some section of the test.
This passive consumption of material of course won’t get you a 170, but it can serve to motivate you to do the more challenging work. Consider it a mental and psychological warm-up.
LSAT Motivational Tip #4: Set smaller goals
Forgive yourself for not being an ultra-productive study master during this time. You’re human. Not superhuman. If you hold yourself to the same study schedule you might have been able to maintain before all of this went down, or if you try to hold yourself to someone else’s study schedule, it may just be too much. The danger here is that when you get too far behind, it’s so easy to just give up.
Instead, set super easy, super small goals that will give you motivation and momentum.
Maybe your goal is to do just one game, or just five logical reasoning questions. Tell yourself that even if you only do just that, your day is successful. Make it so doable that you’ll have no problem doing it.
You can of course set another tiny goal for the day once you’ve accomplished your first. As you start seeing success, you can slowly raise the bar. But make sure your goals are always small enough that they are not overwhelming.
LSAT Motivational Tip #5: Find accountability with grace
Accountability partners are great, but you also want to make sure any accountability arrangements you set up have grace and forgiveness built in. This isn’t the time to have a no-nonsense accountability partner who will chastise you if you fail to meet your goal.
Look for someone who can be encouraging and kind. Someone who gets what you are going through.
You may also want to jump on Zoom together, not to chat, but just to get some LSAT prep done. You can both silently work through some material for a short amount of time, and just having that other person there working alongside you can be helpful.
Don’t have an accountability partner like that? No problem. Check out Focusmate. It has been my life-saver when I know I’d otherwise be wasting my day away.
Shameless plug: My cost-effective guided self-study program has built-in accountability checks. I’m happy to help if you feel you would benefit from a little bit of guidance and accountability in your studying.
LSAT Motivational Tip #6: Remind yourself of your why
When you need an injection of LSAT motivation, remind yourself why you want to go to law school.
- Why do you want to be a lawyer?
- Who do you want to serve?
- Why is this important to you?
This is a great topic to journal about. You can also write it on an index card, then post it somewhere prominent where you’ll see it often.
(I’ve always been resistant to that idea because I never wanted visitors to my house to see the things that I wanted to stick on post-its on the fridge or the bathroom mirror. But yay for social distancing! So much easier to have these things be private now.)
LSAT Motivational Tip #7: Develop new routines
This new situation calls for new routines. I used to wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, then head to my local Starbucks for coffee and a work session. Or when I was living in Korea, I tutored in the morning then headed to a cafe every afternoon for some focused work time. In grad school, I used to grab coffee, then hunker down in a library on campus with a friend to get more work done until late at night.
These kinds of routines kept me productive, but none of them are possible anymore.
So we have to create new routines. But don’t go overboard.
Don’t create a step-by-step plan for your day that’s likely to get derailed at some point. That will just make you want to throw the whole routine out the window.
Instead, your routine could be simply to wake up, drink a glass of water, shower, get dressed, and eat breakfast while listening to an LSAT podcast. Or maybe your routine is as simple as putting in headphones and starting a quiet study soundtrack before you open your book.
Look for ways to attach your LSAT study to an existing habit you have. Have you been pretty good about doing yoga everyday? Trying to do some LSAT work right after yoga. Or maybe even with all of the chaos, you still make a smoothie every morning. Study while drinking your smoothie.
LSAT Motivational Tip #8: Carve out a space for LSAT
This one is important for anyone who is now stuck at home with others. (Shout out to those of you with children.) Before, you may have been able to find some alone time to get your studying in, even if it meant heading off to the local library. But that might just not be possible anymore.
To the extent you can, try to carve out some small space in your home for LSAT study. Or perhaps it makes more sense to carve out some small time. Maybe it’s before the kids wake up. Or maybe you just need to put on a Disney movie in the afternoon, so that you can get some work done. (You have permission to balance the whole “limit screen time” thing with reality and your own sanity.) If it’s roommates or other adults who are encroaching on your space, talk to them about it.
One final note
I want to reiterate my point about being realistic and giving yourself grace. You’re not slacking off. You’re going through something huge, and it’s perfectly reasonable and natural to be thrown off by it.
Take baby steps to get yourself back on track. Don’t use ALL the tips above all at once. Pick one or two for now, see how it goes, then add in another couple. You’ll get back your LSAT motivation eventually.
Don’t beat yourself up for not getting back into the swing of things quickly. Better to slowly build back your study habits than to use up all your willpower in one day only to crash for the next three days.
I offer a cost-effective guided self-study program for students with built-in accountability checks. I’m happy to help if you feel you would benefit from a little bit of guidance and accountability in your studying.
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