Attention Law Students: Is Your Attention Span Holding You Back? Read This.

A few years back, a study found that humans now have attention spans that are less than that of goldfish. I hear this tidbit of information frequently repeated in relation to millennials. You may have heard variations of this as well. “Millennials are being ruined by social media” or “millennials can’t focus on anything.” These types of statements definitely annoy me a little. I am, after all, a card-carrying millennial. However, if I am being honest, there is some truth here.

With the internet and social media, there is so much information out there it can be hard to focus on any one thing for an extended period of time. However, I truly don’t believe that we should throw our hands up in the air and admit defeat. This is particularly true for law students, as the average law school curriculum was not designed for individuals with short attention spans.

So, why do law students need to be especially diligent in preserving or strengthening their attention spans?

Well, sheer volume of work and reading is a start. On average, you have about 15 credits per semester. It is suggested that you spend three hours studying outside of class for every hour in class. You read that right. Forty-five hours of reading per week plus 15 hours of classes. That is a lot to accomplish every week. If you can only focus for eight seconds at a time, this will be next to impossible.

Let’s not forget about final exams, which you can expect to last three to five hours for each course. And they might determine your entire grade for the semester. All of these exams are merely training for

THE exam — the bar exam, that is. In most jurisdictions, the bar exam is a 12-hour test conducted over two days. You need to build your stamina to succeed under these marathon test conditions.

Also, your new, shiny attention span may come in handy when you become an attorney and have to sit through long and painful depositions, hearings, and trials.

Now that I’ve convinced you of how important your attention span is, let’s discuss how you can improve it.

(1) Meditate. Studies have shown that the regular practice of meditation improves your attention span. Added perks to mediation include decreased stress and increased inner peace. And, I mean, who doesn’t want that? There are about a zillion free meditation resources online. I suggest starting with YouTube.

(2) Practice single-tasking. Your attention span is like a muscle. In order for it to be in tip-top shape, you have to practice using it. One excellent way to do this is single-tasking. This means if you are writing a paper, put everything else away. For example, close down any tabs that you don’t need for that particular assignment. In order to focus on one thing at a time, you need to limit your distractions.

(3) Utilize technology for good. There are several great apps out there that will lock down your phone or internet to force you to focus. There are even ones that will block specific apps, such as Facebook.

(4) Build your attention span in fun situations. Admittedly, it can be difficult to build up your attention span if you’re only ever focusing on work or school-related situations. Try putting yourself in fun social situations that require attention, such as a movie, concert, or sports game. Whatever you chose, make a concerted effort to be fully present (i.e., no phone).

(5) Set up a reward system. The best way to motivate yourself to pick up a new habit is to make it an enjoyable experience. Put into place some small, fun rewards for hitting your focus goals.

(6) Implement the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique is actually a time management technique where you work in 25-minute blocks with five-minute breaks. This helps you to get used to working for longer stretches at a time. It could even improve your attention beyond 25 minutes if implemented frequently.

(7) Identify the root cause of your distraction. Even those with the best attention span will find themselves situationally distracted. If you find it particularly hard to focus in any given moment, pause and ask yourself if you are hungry, thirsty, tired, in need of a bathroom break, concerned about something else, etc. If you address the underlying need, you will likely enjoy increased focus right away.

I hope you decide to implement some of these tips and that they increase productivity in your life and legal education. Remember, they say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. So, don’t get frustrated if you don’t immediately see results. Keep at it!


Kerriann Stout is a millennial law school professor and founder of Vinco (a bar exam coaching company) who is generationally trapped between her students and colleagues. Kerriann has helped hundreds of students survive law school and the bar exam with less stress and more confidence. She lives, works, and writes in the northeast. You can reach her by email at info@vincoprep.com.

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Source : https://abovethelaw.com/2018/02/attention-law-students-is-your-attention-span-holding-you-back-read-this/

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