I have been told many times, that I would stay up late to study. I won’t have a life outside of school. Once you get in the swing of things, you will have adequate sleep and a life outside of school. I have managed to go to bed around 11pm almost every night. The other nights were on the weekends when I couldn’t sleep or wanted to continue watching some shows. It actually surprised my boyfriend how much I am able to talk to him.
Would you like to know the key to having a life, sleep, and success in medical school? Answer: time management.
So far as a first year student, I primarily make a schedule of what I do every hour after classes. I attend lectures, make annotations, have a break then study. I study for an hour, break for 10-15 minutes, study for another hour, and another break. No break should be 30 minutes or longer, because it is very tempting to not study.
When I told others what I do, they ask me “what if you don’t finish the lecture, do you just stop and go to the next lecture after break?” The answer is yes. The reason why I do this, is because I do not want to get bogged down on one lecture when there is so much information to learn. I’d rather go through all of the lectures and absorb as much as possible, than do 2 lectures and get a few questions right, due to staying on one lecture. Trust me, spend an hour max and move on.
When I spoke with others, who tend to linger on lectures longer than others, they tend to do worse on exams. This is because they did not give themselves the opportunity to learn the other material. Create an even time schedule for the lectures and go through each lecture at least 3 times.
After you have a confidence or a week before the exam, start doing practice problems. When you get these wrong, read the explanations and this will solidify the concept.
On a typical day, I have class from 8-4/5pm and aim to start studying around 6pm. I need a break after school. I study until 10:30ish, prepare for bed and talk on the phone for a little bit. If your significant other is in school, use this time to hold each other accountable for studying. If you all are long distance, Skype is amazing. I am on it, and we are occupied with studying during that time.
I wake up around 6am to do a little preview if I am not able to do it the night before. If I did preview the night before I study the previous day’s lectures. Then I get ready for school and I’m out the door by 7:45am.
On average, I get about 6 hours of sleep. This is 2 hours less than before medical school, but I still have a decent amount of energy. This is coming from someone who does not drink coffee or energy drinks.
If you are concerned with working out, try a short bout of 15 minutes of cardio during your breaks to get your heart pumping and go back to studying.
I have a chill day, Saturday or Sunday. I watch shows with no guilt, go shopping or do whatever, because I know I am on top of the information and I have not failed any exams. If you do not do life like this, please learn time management. It makes life so much more manageable and you will definitely stress less.