Tips for Time-Managing Your Law School Personal Statement

headshot-2In honor of law school application season, we’re excited to welcome Eileen Conner, founder of Pen and Chisel, LLC, who’s here with some useful tips for personal statement time management. Don’t delay, take this advice to heart today!

If you’re applying to law school this year, you probably have a hundred things on your plate. Now, as deadlines begin to loom, it’s time to add a new task: writing your personal statement and other law school application essays.

These essays will have a huge impact on the success of your application, so it’s crucial to take the time to do your best. But how can you manage your writing efficiently when you’re already juggling several other commitments?

1. Check Your Schedule

Before you start, check out your chosen schools’ application instructions to make sure that you know when all your applications are due.

You definitely don’t want to accidentally miss a deadline.

Next, check out your calendar and note your prior commitments. Consider your classes, your homework and studying time, your job, and your personal responsibilities.

  • What kind of time do you have available in the next few months?
  • Which activities are rigid requirements, and which could be moved or delayed?
2. Allot Your Time

Next, block off some pieces of your schedule between today and your first deadline and dedicate them absolutely to writing and editing application essays.

It’s best to treat these times like an inflexible requirement, such as a job, to be most productive.

If you need to use a commitment device to stay on task — for example, setting a timer or asking a friend to help you stay accountable — go for it.

I recommend that you schedule ten hours of writing time at minimum, and twenty or more if possible.

This may sound excessive if you’re used to pulling off term papers in a few nights, but consider two things:

  • First, your personal statement can make or break your admission to your top-choice schools, so it’s especially important to do your best possible work — and that takes time.
  • Second, the personal statement is not the same as the research papers we get used to writing in school, so you may need an adjustment period to produce a truly stellar essay.

If you finish your essays before your scheduled time is up, that’s great — but if not, you’ll be glad you gave yourself plenty of time to work.

If you’ve just taken the October LSAT, finding time to write may be fairly easy.

Take those hours you formerly used to practice logic puzzles and start writing instead.

However, if your schedule is packed with other activities, you may have to set aside some lower priority tasks in order to really focus on writing a successful personal statement.

Keep in mind that you don’t always have to block out big chunks of time — you can also look for smaller bits and pieces where you can squeeze in ten minutes of brainstorming or fifteen minutes of outlining. Every little bit counts!

3. Start Now!

When you’re writing school essays, you often have no choice but to cram your work into a very short time, because you only receive the assignment a few days before the due date.

Here, you know the assignment well in advance. Why not take advantage of this opportunity and start now?

Because application deadlines are so strict, you’ll want to ensure that you complete your essays on time. In fact, it’s better to aim to finish early, just in case an emergency priority pops up.

So, instead of waiting until late November or December, get going as soon as possible.

After all, if you start earlier, you’ll be more likely to finish earlier — so get that task off your plate!

With these tactics, you’ll ensure that you have plenty of time to do a great job writing and editing your personal statement and other law school application essays — which will make you that much more likely to attain admission to the schools of your choice.

— – —
Thanks, Eileen! I don’t envy all those applicants toiling over their personal statements, but it is a necessary evil.

Got questions for Eileen? Leave them in the comments.

More about Eileen:
Eileen Conner is the founder of Pen and Chisel LLC, where she specializes in helping law school candidates perfect their application essays. A graduate of the University of Michigan’s prestigious creative writing MFA program, Eileen is the former Senior Editor for Law at Revision Editing.

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