Time for the Most Important Things

Emily Gould
Class of 2022
The University of Tennessee College of Law

You can’t do it all, so you have to make sure you are saying yes to the right things. 

How do I have time to go to law school while raising three kids?

I don’t say yes to all the things–especially things that I don’t really want to do.

For example, I don’t want to chauffeur my kids to activities on evenings and weekends, so we don’t do sports.  My kids don’t even want to do sports.  If we did sports, I would not have time to do law school.

I generally have plenty of time to do the things I want to do so long as I say no to the other things.

I think this is where many people go wrong.  They do things so well that they get asked to do more things.  Instead of asking themselves whether they have the time or interest to take on another thing, they say yes. 

Why do they keep saying yes?  Perhaps they are flattered to be asked.  Perhaps they are afraid that the job will not get done without their help.  Perhaps they don’t want to disappoint.  Perhaps they think it will benefit them down the road in some way.  Whatever the reason, they take on too many things.  Then, they are unhappy and overwhelmed and don’t feel like they have enough time to do the things they want to do. 

I see this all the time with my fellow law students.  They serve on all the committees and attend all the meetings.  They study and go to class and do moot court and law review.  They write articles and work part-time jobs.  They say yes to everything, and they are severely overextended.

This problem isn’t unique to law students.  There’s a whole industry out there designed to help people with time management.  But I think it all boils down to this: When you say yes to one thing, you often have to say no to something else. 

You can’t do it all, so you have to make sure you are saying yes to the right things. 

For me, the right things include my husband and kids, my legal education, and a few carefully selected extracurricular activities.  I tend to say no to anything else—especially to things that I don’t really want to do.  Because I say no to some things, I have enough time to say yes to the most important things.  

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