Updated: Oct 23, 2020
By: Atty. Jez Charlemagne Arago
From June to November, I set my alarm to 6 am. I have to get used to waking up and sleeping early because that is what I will do come November. I have to be in bed early every Saturday of November so that I am refreshed and energized when I wake up early the following day. But despite having the alarm, it is still very hard for me to wake up at 6 am because I am not a morning person.
As soon as my alarm goes off, I turn it off and go back to sleep. So, on some days, I wake up at 7 am, on other days I wake up at 8 am. But there are also days when I wake up at 9 am or even 10 am, which happens mostly when I had a hard time sleeping the night before. I have a sleeping problem.
But no matter how early or late I wake up, I always make it a point to have breakfast. I brew my coffee and have bread to give me energy for at least half of the day. Most of the time, I eat my breakfast while reading. I then take my vitamin C to boost my immune system. Barristers are prone to sickness due to everyday stresses; so, it is a must to take vitamins.
Before I start reading, I always set my Forest App to 120 minutes so I can stay focused and not use my phone for the same amount of time. I also play instrumental music to set the mood for studying. I get distracted when the music has words so it must always be instrumental.
Once the Forest App's alarm goes off, I take a break. I usually check my phone and play mobile games during the break. After 20 minutes of switching from one app to another, I will again set my Forest App to at least 90 minutes. By the time my Forest App's alarm goes off again, it's almost lunchtime. So, I get out of my study table, rest my eyes for a little, then prepare to go out.
After freshening up, I go out to have my lunch. I rarely cook meals for myself because who has time to cook when their readings are taller than them?
After lunch, I usually wander around looking for snacks to bring home. I sometimes do grocery shopping to de-stress and rest my mind.
Upon getting home from lunch, I usually take a nap to recharge my body and refresh my brain. Siestas are best after having lunch, anyway. My naps usually take one to three hours, depending on how tired I am. Well, that only happens during the bar review. I never really had long naps on ordinary days.
Despite having a long nap and eating before taking a nap, I always wake up hungry. So, before going back to reading, I eat the snacks I bought earlier or scramble on my groceries to look for something to eat. Time is very important to barristers like me; so, I eat my snacks while reading, and after setting my Forest App to another 120 minutes.
Sometimes, while reading, I space out. I think about the things that will happen after all of this is over. But then I will realize that I should stop daydreaming and start reading because I do not want to retake the Bar. So, I will read again until the alarm of my Forest App goes off.
If it is still early, I will just take a 20-minute break before reading again for at least an hour. But when it is already dinner time, I just go out to grab some dinner. I never skip a meal because I know how important meals are for barristers. I should take care of my health because I am not allowed to get sick, and part of taking care of my health is to ensure that I eat well.
Every night, while having dinner, I try to recall what I have read the whole day. This is to make sure that I understood what I studied and that I have something to write in my booklet come Bar exams.
After dinner, I usually look for something sweet before heading back to my place. Sweets make my day complete so I need to have them at least once a day.
Once I find my sweets, I go back home to watch the news. They say that some examiners base their Bar questions on current events, so I try to keep myself abreast of what is going on in the country. I do not want to miss answering a Bar question just because I do not watch TV.
After the news, I do my skincare routine while watching Netflix. I need to find time doing skincare because I get bad breakouts when I am stressed. Lawyers also advice barristers to relax at night so that is what I do. Just skincare and Netflix at night. I also make sure that I take my multivitamins. People say that multivitamins help you sleep so, I take them at night.
Once the skincare is done and after watching an episode or two on whatever series is making a buzz on Netflix, I go to bed. I value rest so much so, I always go to bed early. If I cannot sleep, I just let it. At least I am lying in bed and not forcing myself to understand difficult concepts of law. There will be always time for that come day time.
On bad days
Although my day is a routine, not all days are the same. Some days I will wake up in a good mood while on other days I will wake up on the wrong side of the bed. There are days when getting out of bed is easy but there are also days when I just want to stay in bed forever. It is okay.
I always tell myself that it is not bad to rest. So, on days that I wake up feeling lazy, I just let myself rest for half of the day. But I promise myself to study after lunch.
There are also days when I cannot study at home. No matter what I do, it feels like I cannot absorb anything. When that happens, I go out. I go to a coffee shop near my place. Changing the environment from time to time breaks the monotony. It helps me focus more on studying.
During good days
There are also days when I feel like everything is going my way. I wake up energized and when I start reading, I just absorb everything. When that happens, I take advantage of that day. There is nothing better than feeling accomplished at the end of the day.
I reward myself on days when I finish my readings early. I sometimes go to the movies, at other times, I buy myself a nice top or a pair of jeans. I also invite my friends to have some dinner in a nice place, so that I can eat something good aside from the usual food that is available near my place.
When I made my schedule, I allot a rest day at the end of the week. Rest days are non-negotiable because I do not want to feel exhausted in the middle of the review season.
I just relax on those days. I lie in bed the whole day watching Netflix and eating junk food. When I am done with my readings even before my rest day, I go to the mall to watch movies or go shopping. I also go to the spa to have a massage because that is all that I need at the end of the week. I treat myself after sitting for at least eight (8) hours every single day. I do whatever that I want during my rest day, except for studying.
Regardless of how my day goes, I know that it will always be challenging. So, I make the most out of it and always do my best. One day I know I will look back and will realize that I have gone so far, that I hurdled the hardest licensure exam in the Philippines because I hustled every single day. Philippine Bar Exam preparation is hard. I'm done with it and now I am hoping that the results will be in my favor.
When your time comes to take the Philippine Bar Exam, I know, you can conquer the four Sundays too.
 Forest App is a productivity application that helps people focus. Users set the time on how long they want to stay focused and must not use their phones for the same amount of time. While users are not using their phones, a virtual tree is growing in the app. But as soon as they use their phones, the tree will die. When they stay focused on the amount of time they set, they will also earn credits that they can use to buy real trees that Forest App will plant in Africa.