I’ll be the first to admit that it is difficult for me to concentrate, to achieve flow. I’ll be the first to tell someone “I can’t focus because I have the brain and charisma of a goldfish.”
Yet at one point I was studying for the bar 12 hours a day and getting stuff done, from getting up to going back to sleep. Part of it was an honest admission that I need to work around the fact that I can’t concentrate for long.
I dub it the 20/10 cycle. I used the 20/10 cycle to crank the productivity dial to a level worthy of my middle name (Danger, unofficially) and churn out those condensed outlines, cooked essays, and even time for entertainment.
You can also tweak it to suit your needs. Maybe you can even make time to “work out” or “have brunch” or “watch the game” or “travel” or “sign up for Barbri” or whatever weird activities you people do.
Something happened on Friday that I thought was relevant to the topic of an upcoming post: dealing with your weak areas on the bar.
For weeks, I’d been corresponding with a patent examiner giving me the runaround regarding a patent application close to allowance. But he was a nice guy who was willing to work with me (when available) and share information.
We exchanged emails (i.e., on record) discussing the merits of the case when I should have used email only to set up a phone call. I sent documents that were not in compliance with the guidelines. I had not CC’d the client manager (who is ultimately responsible for the case) until today when I forwarded the entire exchange as a FYI.
In addition to getting chewed out by the exasperated client manager, I got called in get a stern talking to by two other partners. I thought I was going to be reborn into the next life.
Will I get over it? Sure, it’s a learning experience and an inspiration to do better.
But you can bet your sweet ass that I will from now run email and document drafts by the responsible supervisor (so that the case doesn’t get compromised if it ever goes to litigation or even be grounds for malpractice).
My neurons have locked in these jarring experiences to avoid this mistake at all costs.
Keep this in mind as you read the upcoming material and think about how messing up is not always such a bad thing (for example, if I happened to pass the bar the first time, I’m not sure if this project would exist).
Sometimes all you need to get unstuck is permission to fail, and you have it from me.
You waited months. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, you slowly lost your ability to focus on anything. Blood knocking against all corners of your body. You suffered those few seconds of pure agony as you searched for your name on the pass list of truth.
You didn’t even care about celebrating. You would have spent your lifetime of luck to get this hurdle over with.
But then…nothing to show for all your damn effort…
It could’ve been anything. Maybe your proctor kept walking by with a weird cough. Maybe you were distracted by your table mate who kept snorting his nose. Maybe you were running around trying to secure lunch and got lost.
The bar shows NO mercy, NO sense. It seems like there is at least a quasi-objective determination of your aptitude, but how did they get your final score? It’s like graders sit on their toilet and give your essays whatever score they feel like (this isn’t too far from the truth actually).
But this is the game we’re playing.
It’s not your fault, but you can always make preparations to prevent it. They say prevention is the cure.
The very fact that you’re reading this shows me you are determined to change things around. If so, read on to see how you can reposition your inner mindset today for success next time.
If you’re going to pretend that reading this and going “yeah, that’s what I should do” before forgetting everything I said will miraculously change anything, then please get off my site and go back to Upworthy to continue slacktivism there.
Read on if you are retaking the bar and want to learn how to tweak your attitude before getting back into the game.
The thing about reality is that your brain doesn’t notice it until it’s wrapped tightly around your brain like a sheet of aluminum foil, crinkling and making a polygonal mess.
0 minutes remaining. I slapped in my applicant ID, my entry ticket to three seconds of pristine agony. Then two, three more times. I made sure I was reading correctly. For once, I wasn’t delusional.
I could feel the heavy air of TRUTH closing in around me. Light fading quickly. But I wanted to believe. No, the silvery foil pushed its way around the noodles of my brain, turning into TV static. It was wrapped around the potato, and my brain realized it then.
In some other universe, I passed. But in this one, I failed. I failed. I failed.
2013 was the worst year of my life. My brain convinced me to break up with my friend of ten years and girlfriend of three. My dad screamed at our family on Christmas morning and night. I failed the July bar and haven’t since posted a status on Facebook out of supreme shame. 16 months and counting since becoming Facebook celibate. Facelibate.
I lied down on my bed. Then I got up.
The experiment was a failure. It was time to change the variables. This was how I would prove I was not insane. Then 2014 became the best year of my life.
Having experienced both outcomes of the California Bar Exam, I’ve distilled the following insights that were instrumental to passing the bar. These are things I did the second time but not the first time. Do you like clickbait? You won’t believe #4!