Lectures, labs, PBLs, POM sessions, and plenty of hours doing research and studying — the life of a medical student isn’t what you’d call a walk in the park. You’ll need to manage your schedule effectively. Otherwise, you’ll end up spending the whole week unproductive. So, how exactly do you do it? We’re listing down seven tips for improving time management and more efficiently handling your tasks.
7 Tips for Improving Time Management
1. Start Early
Procrastinating might seem fun at the start, but you won’t enjoy the headache and stress that catching up on your to-do’s will give you later. Getting things done early can help you feel more in control of the day. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
2. Complete the Hardest and Most Important Tasks First
Tasks can be classified into three types: easy, normal, and hard. Doing the most difficult and most important tasks first is good because these types of tasks often require more energy, which most of us have more of earlier in the day.
Moreover, if you finish your difficult tasks first, your other remaining tasks (the easy and normal ones) won’t seem so hard to do.
Your day will get easier as your energy wanes, which is exactly what you need to continue being productive.
3. Tackle Things One Step at a Time
Multitasking isn’t an efficient way to do things. According to the American Psychological Association, it takes extra time to shift mental gears whenever you switch tasks. So, instead of speeding up, you’re actually slowing down.
It’s easy to get distracted, and this is why you should concentrate on doing one thing at a time. This way, you’ll be able to dedicate your full attention to it and, as a result, perform better on the task at hand.
4. Learn When to Say “No”
A good relationship with your peers and the faculty is important when you’re in the medical field. So, it can sometimes be difficult to refuse when someone from your circle asks for a favor. However, this might make things more difficult for you later on.
Keep your responsibilities in mind before you commit to doing something for someone else. If you feel like you’ll have a hard time squeezing it in along with your other tasks, then learn to say “no” nicely.
5. Take a Short Break in Between Tasks
When you spend all day completing tasks and leave no time to catch your breath, you might quickly feel exhausted. This can affect your focus and motivation. It’s good to work hard but remember to give yourself enough time to rest and replenish your energy.
We know it might seem detrimental to your clinical experience. After all, when you take breaks, you lose time. But you’ll end up saving yourself time down the line, in the form of more productive and efficient working hours.
As Psychology Today says, taking breaks improves motivation, productivity, creativity, and learning skills.
Organizing can help make things a little less hectic. Whether it’s your schedule, your printed documents, or your computer files, it’s important to arrange them in a way that will help you find what you need faster and get things done more efficiently.