i The Frugal Law Student | GTD

Law School
Frugality
Personal Finance
Productivity
Nutrition

ThinkingRock + AutoHotKey = GTD Nirvana

Written by Brett McKay

As many of you know, I’ve really wanted a Macbook. Despite Tony’s great advice on how to get one on a budget, I still don’t have the scratch to afford one. One of the reasons I want a Macbook so bad is Quicksilver’s integration with iGTD. Both these apps are Mac-only and they’ve made me drool with GTD lust.

iGTD is a very simple but powerful GTD application. Quicksilver is, well, it’s kind of hard to describe Quicksilver because you can do so many things with it. One of the things you can do with Quicksilver is you can fluently add thoughts or actions into iGTD without having to stop what you’re doing. Say you’re surfing the web and you get an idea for a next action. On a Mac you can bring up Quicksilver with a keystroke, type your thought, hit enter, and keep doing what you’re doing. Your thoght will be added to iGTD. It’s pretty geeky, but pretty dang useful.

I’ve been looking for this sort of ubiqutious capture tool for Windows for months. It has been my Holy Grail. Thankfully, I finally found it.

Reach GTD Nirvana on Your PC

Over at What’s The Next Action, they have an amazing walk-thorugh on how to get the Quicksilver + iGTD functionality on your PC using ThinkingRock and AutoHotKey.

It’s super easy to setup and it will blow your mind when you start using it. Capturing thoughts has never been easier. I just hit a few keys and a little pop up window comes up asking me to enter my thought. I type it in, hit enter, and I continue whatever it was I was doing without skipping a beat.

What Would Really Blow My Mind

Right now I’m using a little program called Keybreeze. It’s similar to Quicksilver in that I can use it to launch programs and enter text macros just using my keyboard. I’m happy with the ThinkingRock and AutoHotKey combo I have right now, I’d really like to do the same thing with Keybreeze. Does anybody know how I can integrate Keybreeze with ThinkingRock in order to get the same ubiquitos capture as I do with AutoHotKey? 

What’s Your Setup?

Written by Tony Marrone

I’m in the process of reviewing both OmniOutliner and the newly-released OmniFocus as they apply to both law students and people interested in Getting Things Done (GTD).

Until then, let’s talk about your particular law school or other software setup that you couldn’t live without. Also, if there’s a program out there you’ve been dying to seen reviewed, let me know (if it runs on Mac) and we’ll try to put together a review for that as well.

27 Holiday Gifts for Law Students That Are Under $25

Written by Brett McKay

With Christmas just a month away, its time to start Christmas shopping. If you have a law student in your life and are having trouble coming up with frugal holiday gift ideas, here’s 27 thoughtful gift ideas that cost less than $25.

Supplies

A box of pens. Every semester I buy a box of Pilot G2 Mini. By the end of the semester, I’ve used them all up. The G2 mini writes well and are small enough to carry around in a pocket easily. This would make a great stock stuffer. Cost:$5 for a pack of four.

Highlighters. Law students read. A lot. And they go through highlighters like gangbusters when reading. Office Depot sells a big tube of 24 highlighters for about $15. This would definitely last the entire year.

Thumb drive. Thumb drives come in real handy at law school. Law students use them all time to transport digital files to other computers. Cost: Varies on the amount of storage space you buy. You can get one with 2GB for about $13.

A yearly planner. Part of effective time management is writing things down. Help your law student start the year off right by buying them a planner for the new year. There are tons of planners to choose from. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Cost: $10-$20. At-A-Glance makes great planners for about $13.

Stapler. My mother-in-law gave me a stapler last year as a stocking stuffer. It was one of my favorite gifts I received. I use it all the time in law school. Cost: $10. Swingline always makes a great stapler.

Personalized stationary. This past semester I wrote a lot of thank you notes after my job interviews. It would have been nice to have some personalized letter head or thank you cards to send to my employers. Over at VistaPrint you can get 30 custom made thank you cards for $20.

Books

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Success in law school depends on effective time management. Getting Things Done by David Allen is a great book that sets up an efficient and effective time management system. The idea behind GTD is clearing your mind of all the stuff you got going on in your life and capturing it somewhere else. Once you’ve collected all your information, GTD sets up an efficient system so you can process it all and get things done. I got this book last year and found it to be extremely helpful. Cost: $8
Law School Confidential (Revised Edition): A Complete Guide to the Law School Experience: By Students, for Students. This a great book for the soon to be law student. The author covers every aspect of the law school experience-taking the LSAT, surviving first semester, internships, the bar, and finding a job. In addition to describing what the law school experience is going to be like, the author gives practical tips on what a student can do to succeed in law school. For example, the author has a section in which he gives advice on how to study for exams. Cost: $10.
What Can You Do With a Law Degree?: A Lawyer’s Guide to Career Alternatives Inside, Outside & Around the Law. Some people aren’t meant to be attorneys. Many find this out while in law school. This book suggests tons of career options one can take with a law degree that doesn’t involve being an attorney. If you know someone who’s in law school, but doesn’t want to be a lawyer, this is a great gift for them Cost: $10.
Legal Writing in Plain English: A Text With Exercises. Good legal writing is supposed to be so simple that any non-attorney could read a lawyer’s writing and understand it completely. That’s hard to do. This book can help. In addition to the great tips it gives, it also has exercises you can do to help lawyers write more clearly. Cost: $10
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time. Success in the legal profession requires effective networking. This is probably the best book I’ve read on networking. Lots of great practical advice. Cost: $14

DVDs

I’m suggesting if you by DVDs, buy them used. There’s no need to buy new. They won’t care. Prices on used DVDs vary on Amazon, but generally they’re about $5.

Legally Blonde 2 – Red, White & Blonde (Special Edition). Reese Witherspoon plays a stereotypical blond who gets into Harvard law school. Hilarity then ensues. This is a fun movie to watch when your brain needs a break from studying. Cost: $5 used
The Paper Chase. This is a good movie to give to soon-to-be-law student if you want to scare the bejesus out of them. The Paper Chase is about a Harvard law student who finds himself the adversary of the school’s most harsh professor. The professor tears students to shreds with the Socratic method. The story becomes more complex when the student learns he’s fallen in love with the daughter of his nemesis, the contracts professor. I haven’t had any law professors like the one in the Paper Chase, but I think the movie does a good job in showing how engrossed law student can become with the law. Cost: $5 used.
The Rainmaker. The Rainmaker, starring Matt Damon and Danny DeVito, is based on the John Grisham novel of the same name. This is your typical David v. Goliath story. Matt Damon plays a young attorney who, having just passed the bar exam, represents a family whose son is denied treatment for leukemia by their insurance company. I’m sure you can see where this is going. Cost: $5 used.
A Civil Action. A Civil Action, starring John Travolta, is actually based on a true case. The story revolves around industrial pollution in a New England town that has contaminated the drinking water. Consequently, children start getting sick and die. John Travolta plays the attorney who takes on the polluters. The movie does a good job portraying how civil procedure can be used win or lose a case. Cost: $5 used.
A Time to Kill. A Time to Kill another movie based on a John Grisham novel. The film stars Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey (I think he keeps his shirt on the entire time during the film), Samuel L. Jackson, and Kevin Spacey. Set in Mississippi, Samuel L. Jackson plays a father who takes justice into his own hands and kills the two men who raped his daughter. Sandra Bullock plays an idealistic law student who assists Matthew McConaughey in defending the vigilante father in this racially charged court drama. Of course you can expect Samuel L. Jackson to yell alot, because that’s what Samuel L. Jackson does best. Cost: $5 used
The Pelican Brief. Hey! What do you know? Another lawyer movie based on a John Grisham novel. A law student (Julia Roberts) discovers evidence of a conspiracy to kill two Supreme Court Justices. She teams up with an investigative reporter (Denzel Washington)and the two are hunted down by those who don’t want the plot revealed. If only being in law school were this exciting. Cost: $5 used
Rounders (Collector’s Edition). Matt Damon plays a law student who likes to play high stakes poker. He tries to quit so he can focus on law school and his girlfriend, but we know that’s not going to happen. Cost: $5 used
Inherit the Wind.This is a classic lawyer movie about the Scopes Monkey Trial. It’s a fictionalized account of the trial, so you can expect some over dramatization. Lots of good actors in this one: Gene Kelly, Fredric March, Spencer Tracy. Even Daren from the classic TV show Bewitched is on it! Yeah! Cost: $8 used
12 Angry Men. This is a dramatic tale of standing up for what you believe in, even though everyone else is against you. Henry Fonda plays a juror who somehow convinces his fellow jurors that a murder suspect should be acquitted. In the process, Henry Fonda breaks the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Cost: $5 used
To Kill a Mockingbird. Movie based on the popular novel by Harper Lee. You can’t help but get pumped up to defend truth and justice after watching this film. Atticus Finch is the man. Cost: $5 used
Runaway Jury (Widescreen Edition). This movie’s got a stellar cast. John Cusack, Gene Hackman (the man), and Dustin Hoffman. The story is about jury manipulation in a gun case. Cost: $5 used
The Client. Brad Renfro (what happened to that guy) plays a kid whose life is in jeopardy after witnessing the death of a Mob lawyer. An attorney (Susan Sarandon) decides to look after him. Cost: $5 used
The Firm. Tom Cruise plays a recent Harvard grad that takes a job at a prestigious firm. Associates at the firm start dying and the Feds ask Cruise to spy on the partners. Begin suspense. Cost: $5 used

Just For Fun

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney If your law student owns a Nintendo DS, then get this game for them. The games consists of five cases that Phoenix takes on. Present findings from the investigation, listen to testimonies, examine witnesses, and determine the truth to prove your client’s innocence. Cost $20 used.

5 Cubes of 24 Pack of Diet Mountain Dew. I love Diet Mountain Dew. It’s the nectar of the gods that keeps me going in law school. I’ve noticed that a lot of other law students enjoy drinking it as well. What better gift than to give your law student boxes of the drink they love! You can buy a 24 pack of Diet Mountain Dew for about $5 each. With our $25 budget, you can buy 5 cubes. That’s 120 Diet Mountain Dews! That’s enough to last an entire semester if your law student just drinks one a day. Awesome. Cost: $25.

Magazine subscriptions. Law students do a lot heavy reading during the day. Every now and then its nice to read the fluff you find in magazines. You can find some good deals on magazine subscriptions on the internet. Here’s a quick list of places you can check:

Once you make the subscription, go to book store, buy a copy of the magazine, wrap it in a box, and put in a note telling your law student that you’ve given them a subscription. You’ll be their favorite person. Cost: $10-$25

Any other frugal gift ideas for law students? Law students, what kind of gifts would you like to have sitting under the Christmas tree? Drop a line in the comment box!

4 Things To Do When You Don’t Want To Do Anything

Written by Brett McKay

1462464779_3923963be8.jpg

Every now and then I’ll have a day when I’m completely apathetic about everything. The idea of being productive makes my brain hurt. These little funks can be extremely frustrating, especially when I have tons to do. For example, last Monday I was up at school trying to get stuff done, when a sudden wave of “don’t-want-to-do-anything-itis” hit hard. This state of mind came at a really inconvenient time, seeing that I had a law review article draft to finish as well as some outlining to do. Consequently, I became frustrated and even more apathetic about wanting to do anything.

Have you ever had one of these days? Here are 4 things you can do that will help get you back on track when you don’t want to do anything.

  1. Take a walk outside. By taking a walk outside, you can clear your head of all the frustration and angst you might be feeling. It gives you time to think and to work off some of that apathy that has consumed your soul. I also think being outside in the fresh air and sun resyncs’s your body and mind to a more natural state. Being cooped up in a building with florescent lighting probably isn’t conducive to apathy free living.
  2. Journal. Writing about why you’re not in the mood to do anything is a great way to work through apathy. Just bust out a notebook and start writing about how you don’t want to do anything and why you feel that way. Don’t think about it too hard. Just free write. After about 10 minutes, you’ll see the source of your “don’t-want-to-do-anything-itis” and you’ll feel much better. Maybe those teenage emo kids are on to something…
  3. Review your goals. When apathy strikes, take some time review your goals. This will help motivate you to get started again.
  4. Do less demanding tasks. Instead of trying to use brute force to get an important task done when you’re not in the mood to work, try easing yourself into work mode by doing less demanding tasks first. For example, you could organize your desk, schedule your week, or respond to emails. By doing less demanding tasks first, you benefit in two ways: 1) it will help ease you into the working state of mind and 2) you’ll at least get some stuff done.

What do you all do when apathy strikes? Drop a line in the comment box and let us know!

Image from Amel Hanan.

10 Personal Finance Blogs You NEED To Subscribe To

Written by Brett McKay

Knowledge is power, so part of my plan to take charge of my finances is to read up on personal finance. You could read some personal finance books; unfortunately most of them suck. That’s why I get most of my personal finance info and tips from personal finance blogs. There are hundreds of them, but only a few consistently provide amazingly useful content. Here are the 10 personal finance blogs you need to subscribe to by RSS feed or email.

1. The Simple Dollar. Trent cranks out tons of content every day. And it’s all good! To give you an idea of what kind of content to expect when you subscribe to The Simple Dollar check out Trent’s One Hour Finance Series. Subscribe to The Simple Dollar by RSS Feed or Email (visit the site to sign up).

2. Get Rich Slowly. There’s a reason Get Rich Slowly has over 30,000 subscribers (30,000!). J.D. takes the intimidating topic of personal finance and makes it approachable for any person. Which high-yield savings account is best? is a great example of what to expect when you subscribe to Get Rich Slowly. Subscribe by RSS Feed or Email (visit the site sign up).

3. The Digerati Life. I like the Digerati Life because 1) the author is a woman and we need more women personal finance bloggers and 2) the topics she chooses to write on are always engaging. Should You Quit School Because You’re Brilliant? is a great example of her writing. Subscribe to The Digerati Life by RSS Feed or Email (visit their site to sign up.)

4. Clever Dude. The Dude has been in my Google reader for quite some time now. Not only does The Dude write about money, he writes about how money affects relationships. As a fellow young married person, I can relate to a lot of what The Dude writes about. For example, Examine Your Motives:Having Kids was extremely relevant to my wife and I as we have discussed whether to bring Little Frugal Law Students into the world. Subscribe to Clever Dude by RSS Feed or by Email.

5. Wise Bread. Wise Bread is one of the few group personal finance blogs out there. As a result, they are able to produce tons of quality content on a consistent basis. Wise Bread runs the gamete on personal finance topics. Remove car dents quickly and cheaply and Socially Responsible Investing Goes Green are examples of what to expect from Wise Bread. Subscribe to them by RSS Feed.

6. Money Smart Life. I like Money Smart Life because of the writing style and the topics covered on the blog. Not only does the author focus on how to manage your money, he also focuses on emotional and psychological aspects of money management without sounding cheesy. For a great example, see Money Isn’t Everything. Subscribe to Money Smart Life by RSS Feed or by Email.

7. Money, Matter, and More Musings. What’s great about Money, Matter, and More Musings are its longer posts. While short tips posts are nice, it’s always a treat to go in depth into a topic with the author at Money, Matter, and More Musings. Looking At Life With A Stock Market Perspective was a recent fun read. Subscribe to Money, Matter, and More Musings by RSS Feed or Email (visit the site to sign up).

8. Boston Gal’s Open Wallet. Boston Gal is another great female personal finance blogger. Her posts are always informative and entertaining. She also keeps us abreast with the latest deals! See 401(k) Loans: At Your Own Risk for an example of Boston Gal’s most recent work. Subscribe to Boston Gal by RSS feed or by Email.

9. I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Besides founding and running PBWiki, Ramit Sethi also finds time to run an outstanding personal finance blog. Not only does Ramit focus on personal finance, he also writes about how young people can develop entrepreneurial skills that can help them earn more money. Check out Conscious Spending: How My Friends Spend $21,000/yr Going Out. Subscribe to I Will Teach You To Be Rich by RSS Feed or by Email.

10. Getting Finances Done. Getting Finances Done took the productivity idea behind Getting Things Done and applied them to finances. I like GFD for its articles on the technicalities in managing your finances. I’m always fiddling with how I keep track of my budget. GFD has done a great job in giving me some guidance. Check out Applying GTD Principles to Your Personal Finances Part I and Part II. Subscribe to Getting Finances Done by RSS Feed or by Email (visit the site to sign up).

What personal finance blogs do you all subscribe to? Drop a line in the comment box.

Hack Your Pocket Moleskine Into A Wallet

Written by Brett McKay

If you’re like me, you love your Moleskine, but hate having to lug around one more thing in your pants pockets. With a cell phone and wallet already occupying valuable pocket real estate, the addition of the Moleskine can make your bottom half start to feel bulky. I thought about getting one of David Allen’s NoteTaker Wallets, in order to combine my wallet with the note taking functionality of the Moleskine, but they’re $90! As a law student who’s taking on student debt, I can not bring myself to drop $90 for a wallet.

So, here’s the next best thing. Hack your Pocket Moleskine into a fully functioning wallet. The Moleskine already has a folder in the back that serves as a great place to keep paper money and receipts. What it’s lacking is a convenient place to store your credit cards. This hack fixes that. By combining your wallet with the Moleskine, you’ll have one less things to carry.

What We’re Going For

dscn0245.JPG

dscn0246.JPG

Pretty cool, huh? Let’s get started on your Moleskine wallet.

The Materials

Instructions

1. Print off the credit card holder template that I’ve provided. Cut them out.

2. Fold the tabs on the cutout. I usually fold the tabs around a credit card to make sure I get precise and snug fold.

3. Apply glue on the side of the tab facing out, like this.

dscn0251.JPG

4. Place the first holder at the top of your Moleskine. I placed my credit card holders next the folder on the back cover. You can put your’s where ever you want.

dscn0252.JPG

5. Layer the subsequent holders in a stagnated fashion until you get to the bottom, so it will look like this.

finished.jpg

6. Let dry. You’re done!

Here’s what it looks like closed:

dscn0249.JPG

It’s a little full, but has worked out for me pretty well for me. Now, I never forget to have my Moleskine with me. If anybody else has suggestions, please feel free add them to the comments.