If you want to survive medical school, there is one skill you must learn: time management. As you’ve heard time and time again, medical school is like drinking out of a fire hydrant. It is not the difficulty of the material but the volume and pace at which you are expected to learn all of the new information. In medical school, time really is the most valuable resource. So I’m here to share with you a few ways I’ve learned to manage my time with first year under my belt.
- Identify all of your commitments, and plan for them by prioritizing each activity.
- Committed activities (eating, sleeping, classes, mandatory meetings, etc.)
- Academic activities (extracurricular involvement)
- Daily and weekly maintenance activities (laundry, grocery shopping, important phone calls, etc.—do these when you typically have low energy level)
- Leisure and social activities (protected time to go for a run, watch a favorite TV show, getting together with friends, alone time, etc.)
- Create a schedule—overview of the year (holidays, exam dates, family engagements), weekly, and daily (to-do list).
- Use a planner that works for you whether it is a computer, phone, or an old-fashioned planner. I love using my phone—it’s easy to make changes, and I always have it on me. Plus, it syncs to my computer calendar.
- Develop realistic deadlines. I can’t explain how important this is. I am guilty of being unrealistic when planning my schedule, and it is something I’ve had to work on.
- Prioritize what needs to be done. Begin to form a habit of scheduling the most demanding tasks during periods of highest energy.
Want more tips on time management? Stay tuned for part two when I discuss scheduling study time.