Written by Brett McKay
Photo by DRB62
Law students not only need supplements for their classes, they need supplements for their health.
Law school is taxing both on your mind and body. A law student can easily put in a 12 hour day of non-stop studying. When I was working on my law review article last semester, I often worked from 7 AM to 10 PM to get it done. If you’re not taking care of your body, all this work and stress can land you in the hospital. (Note: That’s what happened to me last year.) A law student cannot afford to miss a week of classes and studying!
In addition to exercising regularly and eating well, law students should consider taking a few nutritional supplements to help them make it through the law school experience. Vitamin/herbal supplements used in conjunction with exercise and diet can not only keep you from getting sick, they also might help you perform better come exam time.
Here’s a run down of supplements that I’m currently taking to keep me healthy and to boost my brain power:
- Vibrant C. Vibrant C is a drink mix full of vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals. I start drinking this during cold season in order to boost my immune system. I don’t have time to be sick in law school, so any way I can prevent coming down with something is welcomed.
- Daily Vitamin Supplement. While eating a well balanced diet to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need is ideal, sometimes law students don’t have time to eat healthy. That’s where a daily vitamin supplement can come in. You’ll get all your daily recommended vitamins in one little pill.
- Ginkgo Biloba. Studies have shown that regular consumption of Ginkgo helps improve thinking, learning, and memory. In law school, that’s all you do. Taking Ginkgo won’t turn you into a super genius, but every little thing helps. Studies also show that ginkgo helps ward off depression. This is particularly useful in law school where depression is unfortunately quite common.
- Fish Oil. Fish oil is full of omega 3 fatty acids. Research has shown omega 3 fatty acids have several health benefits. The benefits that law students should be interested in include better brain function and less depression. Omega 3 improves memory, recall, reasoning, and focus; all important skills on law exams. There is some evidence it boosts the immune system as well.
- Yerba mate. Yerba mate is a tea made from a shrub in South America. The benefits of yerba mate are similar to those of green tea. I’ve been able to kick my soda habit by switching to yerba mate. I get the benefits of the energy boost from the natural caffeine, along with health benefits from all the antioxidants. Plus it energizes you without the jittery feeling coffee or energy drinks can give.
- 5 Hour Energy. If this stuff was cheaper, I would take it everyday. It is an energy drink that actually lives up to its claim. It makes you feel energized, focused, and ready to take on the world. All without the jitters or the crash when it wears off. I take one of these shots before all my final exams and they power me through those stressful 3-4 hour periods.
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?
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.
Written by Brett McKay
One of my goals during the winter break is to revamp my organizational system. This past year, I’ve tried implementing Getting Things Done and had moderate success. My biggest problem was that I had way too many inboxes and complicated file systems that I spent more time trying to figure out where I put stuff and maintaining my system than I did getting things done.
While not in his book, one thing that I’m doing to simplify is stopping my filing system on the computer. On my computer, I would create these complicated nested mess of folders for each area of my life. I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out where they should go and I always seemed to forget where I put the file when I needed to bring it up.
My Gmail account was the same as well. I had separate folders for different kinds of email and the email automatically filtered to their respective folder. I started to notice that with this system, I would miss emails. Plus it was annoying to have to click through each folder to check my mail. I hate useless clicks.
The solution:Quit filing and start searching
I’ve stopped filing completely on my computer. Instead, I leverage Google’s search capability for my computer organizational needs.
Organizing your computer. I’ve installed Google Desktop on my computer. This amazing app makes searching your computer as easy as searching the web. It does a full text search of all your documents, music, and videos and brings you the most relevant searches. It will also bring you emails and webpages that are relevant to your search.
Organizing Gmail. I’ve gotten rid of the different folders on Gmail. I now just use the main inbox. It makes going through my email much more easier than having to check four different folders. When ever I want to save an email, I just Archive it. When I need it again, I just use Gmail’s search function and type in a few words that I remember the email being about. Simple.
Organizing paper documents.Unfortunately, Google has not entered the realm of organizing paper documents, so I’m using a simple file box. I’ve thought about digitizing my paper documents so I can take advantage of Google Desktop’s search feature. However, because the scanner I have is old, digitizing would be a chore. Mark Shead of Productivity 501 has a great write up on how to go paperless.
How do you all organize your computer? Do you have any ideas to make digital organization more efficient? Drop a line in the comment box.
Written by Brett McKay
I’m always on the lookout for new ways to make my studying and learning more effective and efficient. I’m a big fan of the peg system, image linking, and mindmaps. Unfortunately, I’ve found these techniques useless for memorizing 40 page law school outlines filled with abstract legal doctrine.
The Brute Force Memorization Process
While reading aloud the sentence of the thing I want to memorize, I’ll type it in my computer. I’ll repeat this process five times with each line of data I want to memorize.
I’m getting visual stimulation by reading and auditory stimulation be reading aloud. Writing things down is one of the best ways to remember things. These three done simultaneously produce a trifecta of memorizing power. Repetition crams the info into your brain. If I’m having trouble memorizing a particular piece of information, I’ll keep repeating the process until I’ve got it down.
It’s not pretty and it’s not efficient, but it gets the job done. I’ve been doing this for years and it has always helped me remember those pesky details I’ve needed to know on exams. I make sure I leave myself plenty of time before the test to do this.
Caveat: I don’t completely abandon memorizing techniques while doing this. I often incorporate them in the process when I see they would work. For example, I include mnemonics to help memorize a list of elements to a crime. But when I have to remember the definition of “connivance” or “proximate causation”, my brute force technique steps in.
I use text editor for writing the information. I have a friend who uses a similar technique but prefers writing it by hand.
Bottom line: This technique works for me. But do what works for you.
What are your memorization techniques? Drop a line in the comment box and add to the conversation!
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Written by Brett McKay
One of the things my wife and I do to make some extra money is selling our old stuff on eBay. How do we find stuff to sell? Every 6 months or so, my wife and I take a day to purge ourselves of stuff we no longer use. While most of the stuff is crap and will go to the garbage, every once in a while we will find some great items that can fetch a pretty penny on eBay. Here’s our general method of how we do do our eBay “purge and profit.”
Set aside a day for the purge. A thorough purging will take a good part of the day. Set aside weekend where you can devote your self completely to decluttering your house.
Create your declutter attack plan. Plan the order of the rooms you want to declutter. Start off with some easy rooms to get you in the “declutter zone.” If the room has closets, start of with those before you move the rest of the room. If the room has cabinets, purge those first.
Create a “trash” bag an”eBay” bag, and “donate” bag. Have separate bags or boxes for garbage and eBay and sort as you go. Some items, like clothing, are better to donate than sell on eBay simply because they don’t do that well on eBay. Make sure to have bags for donations as well.
Ask the “one year question.” If you’re not sure whether you should get rid of something, ask yourself “Have I used this item in the last year?” If you haven’t it goes; if you have, keep it.
Finish a room before going on the next one. Stay focused on one room at a time. If you try to purge more than one room at a time, you’ll overwhelm yourself and end up quiting before the job is done.
Chunk it or donate it. Take the trash bag and put out with the garbage. Drop the donate bags to Goodwill. Ahhh… doesn’t that feel good?
Now it’s time to sell your stuff on eBay. Here’s what has helped my wife and I get maximum profits on our eBay sales.
Research what similar items have sold for. Find out what the eBay market is valuing your item at. If you set too high a price, you won’t get any bids. Just get on eBay’s advanced search to see what items like yours have sold for and how much they are auctioning for now. Take into account the item’s condition when researching as well. If it has some dings and flaws, you should look to start the bid out lower than other items.
Set your starting bid low. Low starting bids attract more bidders. Of course you should base your bids on the demand for the item. If it’s a high demand product, starting low shouldn’t hurt you because more people will be competing for it. If your product is in low demand and you think you won’t get many bids, set the starting price closer to what you actually want to get for the item. This is why researching is so important.
Be descriptive in your description. The more detail you put in your item description the more likely it will sell. Tell how old the item is, how often it has been used, and any flaws it might have. Even if your item has a few dings in it, people will buy IF you’re upfront about it in the description. It shows the buyer you’re an honest eBayer and in the eBay game your reputation is your most important commodity.
Edit your description. Make sure to run a spell check and grammar check on your eBay listing. It just makes you look more legit and boosts that all important eBay reputation.
Create a stellar title. The first thing people will see when searching for eBay items is the title. The key for a good title is description. Try to tell everything you can about the item in the space eBay give your for the title. List things like brand, color, condition, designers, and size. If it’s a book or CD, include the artist. That way if someone searches for the author, but not the title of your book, your item will still come up. Don’t use all caps or punctuations. That just annoys people and shows you have no idea what you’re doing.
Include a picture of the item. Don’t just include one, include several from different angles. Make sure you show any flaws or dings the item might have. Again, if the flaw is minor, it shouldn’t hurt you. The picture of the flaw only shows you’re an honest seller.
Run a 10 day listing. If you start the bid on Thursday and run a 10 day bid, your bid will end on the Sunday of the following week. That means your item will be up for two weekends. More people surf and make purchases on eBay on the weekends, so having exposure on two weekends will definitely help increase the bids.
Be prompt in answering questions. If you get a question from a bidder, answer it quickly. It shows you’re serious about selling your item and only increases your reputation. Plus, it’s just plain courteous.
Be upfront with shipping and handling. Make it clear who’s paying for shipping and handling. One of the biggest scams people run on eBay is selling an item for super cheap, but then charging $15 for shipping. You’ll encourage bids if you’re clear about how much shipping will be.
Don’t use eBay add-ons . I haven’t found these to be very helpful. If you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have to use them.
Ship fast. As soon as the auction is over, head down to the post office and send the package off. Buyers will get to vote on you and how you handle shipping will be taken into consideration. Ship fast to earn a high score!
What are your tips for the eBay “purge and profit?” Drop a line in the comment box!