London is an expensive city and it can be tricky to budget whilst being a student – especially coming from a low-income family. With the current high rising cost of living and the necessity to complete a demanding legal qualification, it is understandable that some students might take up a new job. Moreover, by working you can give yourself valuable transferable skills helpful for a future application, such as a training contract.
The key to working part-time during a challenging degree such as Law is organisation. I have been working two part-time jobs during my Law degree and, despite being difficult, it can be done! Prioritising and flexibility are also important assets.
Step 1 – Understanding your commitments
Take a few moments to put down everything that you do during the day and week, dividing your list in three grids: academic, professional, and personal. You can also divide this by colours, or you can choose your own system to split your commitments. Then, try to move your activities under a draft timetable, either through Excel or by hand. By doing this, you should visualise the days where you are the busiest and days where you can squeeze an outing with friends or extra time to study.
Step 2 – Finding a routine
Having already created a timetable, you should then draft a simple routine to follow. By understanding the times where your activities take place, you can then modify your habits based on when you are most productive, as well as establishing at least one ‘relaxing’ or less busy day. For example, if you are more of a night owl like me and you are lucky enough to have your lectures around 11am, then you could set your ‘study time’ to prepare for your lectures or tutorials around the late afternoon, for example, from 6pm to 11pm. Alternatively, if you prefer to wake-up up at 6am, you can then manage to do your studies and reading in the morning, where you feel the most productive, giving you some time to spare during the day or night.
Another important factor to keep in mind whilst working as a law student is to have a flexible job. Law school is demanding and, especially during exams time, you need to be spending your time revising and preparing. This could mean skipping possible shifts at work: if you are yet to find a job, try to focus on one that keeps in mind you are a student and allows you to adapt around your studies. On the other hand, if you are currently employed, speak to your employer and let them know that your availability might change during the year. Moreover, make sure that they can allow you to be elastic in terms of worked hours.
Step 3 – Enjoying your time!
Now that you have, possibly, found your ideal routine, try to test it and check how it works for you. Do not be afraid to change your routine depending on your current commitments and speak to your personal tutor if you feel overwhelmed. If you feel like running out of time despite establishing your plan, you could optimise your time by doing two activities at the same time, i.e. writing your to-do list while eating breakfast or starting your reading whilst commuting home. Also, try to block distractions off or use a time-management app such as Forest or the Pomodoro app to help you. To-do lists are also effective at tackling tasks and managing your workload. Yet, do not attempt to write too many things on the list, since you might end up getting the opposite result.
During the week, remember to be focused but allow yourself to relax at least before going to sleep. Also, try to find space for an engaging activity to do during your weekend or day off to wind your mind off after a long week: taking a long walk, visiting a museum with friends or going for a quick day trip outside London. After all, you earned it!
Written by Elisa, third-year Law LLB student