7 Ways To Improve Productivity – Medical Student Edition.

One thing I am certain of is this: studying medicine in a thriving social scene is very distracting.

For some, it’s the beaches of the Caribbean or the nightlife in the cities. Whatever it is; you need to come up with ways to perform optimally with the same 24 hours you had during your pre-med years.

So here are a few ways to become an efficient GURU at med-schooling.

1. Limit Use Of Social Media.
Chances are you aren’t an entrepreneur with an online business that’s paying your tuition; so why else do you need to keep 6 social media outlets going? If you are that rare online guru that’s making substantial dollars on the internet to pay for school and other valuable assets, then you are an exception. One cannot constantly refresh Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, and YouTube every day and not expect to waste precious time. If you don’t believe it, answer this question: how many hours did you spend today on those sites?

If you lack the self-control to limit your browsing to once daily on one media outlet, then I suggest you deactivate altogether. Especially during exam season. You can always choose to call your loved ones instead. Here a few apps available that will track your time spent on social media. This is a great way to determine how much time you’re spending on “wasting your brain cells”.

2. Create a Study Schedule
Every hour of the day should be accounted for especially during peak exam seasons. Schedules keep you accountable and help you maintain focus. Goals should be defined on a weekly basis. Such as the completion of a section of a question bank, or a textbook chapter etc.  Ensure that you include time for your hobbies and leisure; you will need to stay balanced with all the hard work you do.

3. Wake Up Earlier.
To do this you’ll have to go to bed early. I found more time in my day by creating it in the morning. You’ll have to “shut it down” earlier than most adults. I figure you don’t want to be like most other adults anyway – evidenced by the career you chose. I frequently switch to the airplane mode on my phone at a certain time of the night but you can set yours to the “Do Not Disturb” mode to avoid nighttime interruptions.

4. Have A Study Buddy.
Preferably someone “smarter” than you so you can learn from them. If you are constantly leading the pack you may not learn enough. Limit group studying to avoid transforming this block of time into a therapy session.

5. Stop Procrastinating.

Don’t push off research projects, homework or papers to the last day. Try to start working on these things as soon as they are assigned to you. Waiting would only increase your “submission day”  or test-taking anxiety. You don’t need extra cortisol spikes, no bueno!

6. Seek Help.

Smart people need coaching too. If you cant hire one, just ask someone you admire how they managed their time in medical school or training. Also if you suffer from debilitating test taking anxiety, see a therapist. Same applies to any inclination of a mental health condition. If you are beginning to feel depressed seek help!

Confession: I saw a therapist briefly in medical school to help me deal with personal relationship issues. I belief it helped me perform better than I would have if I didn’t have this unbiased outlet.

7. Make Time For Sleep & Wellness.

You need to prioritize your wellness. Make healthy meals, skip ramen noodles every night. Incorporate an exercise routine to your life, you’ll be happier with be endorphins. Sleep is vital to refresh your mind especially if you’re going to wake up early to study. Practice good sleep hygiene i.e. a good mattress (no air mattresses), turn off lights at a certain hour (say 9pm), no computers or phones in bed, Use Black out curtains and avoid keeping your TV in the bedroom! If all else fails, melatonin is still a great chemical to balance out the circadian rhythm.

Bonus: when you switch from night rotations to days, sleep in! Transform post call day into sleep & self care day.

You’ve got this, stay strong till you get that MD

Or

DO until you get that DO!

We are waiting for you on the other side.

Dr. Lum

Tell me what you think.