In third year, you lose control of your schedule and are left at the mercy of your attending and residents. With the early mornings and early evenings, by the time I get home, I only have a few hours to study. Especially if I go to the gym, things are even more constrained. And I’m not the type to stay awake late, I’m surely in bed by 11. So, when I sit down to study, I have to be efficient. Here are some tips to help you maximize your time.
First and most important is to make a SCHEDULE. Before you sit down to study, you should already know what you’re about to accomplish. This way you keep yourself on track and can sense if you’re getting behind. You can do this day-to-day with to do lists, but to be most successful, you want to make this schedule at least on a weekly basis. On Sunday, you can generally map out what you plan to accomplish that week. Then each day, before sitting down, review that plan and make amends based on the amount of time you have to study that night. Particularly during third year, when you already know what resources you want to get through, you can actually plan out your study schedule entirely before the rotation starts, then make changes to it as you go along (this is what I do).
When you sit down you need to minimize distractions. Turn your computer notifications off and put your phone on do not disturb. I usually keep my phone in another room or on the floor out of my sight. You can check up on messages/DMs/snaps during a break, but never mix your studies with your social life if you’re trying to be efficient. If you aren’t in an ideal location, plug your ears or listen to your favorite background noise with headphones.
Take advantage of your time during the day to decrease the amount of other random things you need to do at night when it’s study-time. Respond to emails, online shop, do busy work for school, work on the application, etc. Do these more mindless things before trying to squeeze in studying during the day–which actually requires brain power. So when it’s time to focus on studying, you won’t have so many little tasks to complete beforehand and waste time.
Lastly, you need to intentionally prioritize your studying. Seems intuitive, but if you don’t believe that your readings/questions/review/etc. are top priority in that time period, you will easily find distractions and reasons to do other things. You might find yourself cleaning something, constantly getting stuck on instagram, fiddling with another hobby of yours, or caught up on the phone with friends/family. So when you say the next 2 hours you are going to finish X, Y, and Z, you need you be firm and really mean that!
Hope these tips help you next time you prep for a study session! Have a wonderful week, and Happy Valentines Day in advance!