The 20/10 Cycle: How I Hacked My Motivation to Study 12 Hours a Day

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.

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I Messed Up

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.

Should You Get a Bar Tutor?

A question that comes up sometimes is whether one should get a bar tutor. Since I have no experience with that, I had to find out how others have dealt with this issue.

On your behalf (because no one else did), I asked three people who took the bar the second time with a tutor and passed. There is a lot of great information here for those on the fence, so pay attention!

Since I usually talk too much, I’ll let L, D and E handle it from here.

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What to Do If You Are Retaking the Bar

It’s not your fault.

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 minesweeping at the test center, surrounded by your 8 neighbors being distractions. Maybe you were running around trying to secure lunch.

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? Unemployed graders sitting on their toilet giving your essays whatever score they feel like, that’s what. It’s bullshit.

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 your consumption of slacktivism there.

I wish I could make graphics like this

Read on if you are retaking the bar and want to learn how to tweak your attitude before getting back into the game.

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How to Apply Rules with IRAC

Essays: Get the “I” and “R” right, and the rest should flow relatively naturally. So these “I” and “R” would be good place to focus on throughout your essay preparation.

Even if you had just a few weeks to prepare for the bar, there’s still time to learn the “A” part of IRAC—applying the rules. Once you learn how to work facts into your answer, you may not need to practice the “A” part as repetitively as you would for issue checking and rule recitation or memorization.

I’ll demonstrate a simple and clean rule application, based on this question I got:

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