Medical school comes with a lot of studying that takes a lot of your time, especially if it’s inefficient. Studying a certain topic used to take me a lot longer than it does now and having more time left really reduces the level of stress and enables me to take more time for my family and friends.
Here are the mistakes that I used to make:
This is something I sometimes still do when I lack motivation or just don’t feel like studying but not as much as I used to. I knew that I can learn enough to pass in three days if I studied around 6 hours a day, but it was super stressful, and I was under a lot of pressure. I now start with studying at least a week before the exam, usually 2 weeks so I have time to study efficiently and with less stress and pressure. When you feel like procrastinating try to find some motivation, remind yourself why you’re studying and offer yourself some award for after studying (I for example only “allowed” myself to watch a series after I’ve learned everything that I’ve planned for that day so that was some extra motivation).
This is probably one of the most common study mistakes we make nowadays. We all must have our phones with us 24/7 which is not so great when it comes to studying. Getting regularly distracted by notifications and social networks doesn’t only slow down studying but it also makes it harder for you to remember the subject that you’re studying. I dealt with that by putting my phone on silent mode when I’m studying, and I check it only during breaks. I use my tablet while studying but I don’t have any social media or other distracting apps loaded on it.
Not having/sticking to the schedule
Having a schedule makes it a lot easier to keep track of what and how much you learn. It’s important to make a realistic schedule, add enough brakes, and stick to it as much as possible. I didn’t have a schedule at first and I didn’t use to plan my studying that’s why I wasn’t always sure how much do I have left to learn and how much time do I actually have left. Since I’ve started planning my studying (I think it was in the last year of high school) I’m more organized, and on track with all my studying. I recommend you don’t overfill your schedule (e.g. plan on studying for 10 hours without brakes) because there’s no way you could stick to it. So, make sure that you include breaks and that you organize your time wisely. If at first, you’re not exactly sure how much time do you need for some subject, rather take a day or two more than to run out of time in the end.
Here is an example of how I plan my studying:
I have an exam 31 days from today
- Review how much there is to learn (let’s say I have 200 pages of a textbook to learn).
- I start studying 14 days before the exam which means I have to learn approximately 14 pages per day, but I want to spend the last 2 days revising, which means I already have to know everything by then. That leaves me 12 days for studying, so 16 pages per day which is manageable.
- Plan out the days
– 8.00 – 9.00 wake up
– 9.00 – 10.00 eat breakfast, watch a show, go for a walk…
– 10.00 – 11.45 study
– 11.45 – 12.00 break
– 12.00 – 13.00 study
– 13.00 – 14.00 lunch break, watch a show, go for a walk …
– 14.00 – 15.30 study
– 15.30 – 16.30 – break for a show, coffee, walk, spend time with friends…
– 16.30 – 18.00 study
– 18.00 – 18.15 break
– 18.15 – 19.30 (or 20.00) study
– Then I usually take a shower, hang out with my parents, friends, or watch a movie.
This is just an example of how I plan my days during the exam period. I don’t always stick to it 100% but I try to as much as I can.
Doing everything else but studying
When I have to study doing some things, I normally probably wouldn’t do becomes very tempting. I want to clean the messiest drawer I have in my room that will probably take me an hour to clean just when I need to study or try this new recipe I found online or urgently go hand out with friends. That happened to me many times before because I just didn’t feel like studying and eventually I got nothing done which wasn’t that great. This was probably one of the hardest things for me to fix but I managed to. If I really had to study but still really wanted to do some of those things too, I skipped some of the planned breaks and tried to learn as much as I could by 4 or 5 pm. and then finish with studying for the day to do something else. This of course didn’t happen every day but it’s okay if it does now and then. It’s also okay if you take a day off completely because that’s just what we need sometimes when everything seems overwhelming.