Is it just me or is 2017 going by extremely quickly? I cannot believe that tomorrow is the first of April. April is my last month of core clinical rotations. This year of medical school has been crazy. I feel like I mention in almost every post that medical school is hard. Each year in medical school has its own challenges. Third year is the awkward balance of two time-consuming roles: full-time student and health care provider. Each rotation comes with very different schedules (some schedules change on a weekly basis, others change every few days) and expectations. My biggest challenge has been to balance my work on the wards and to keep on top of my academics (there’s always a shelf exam on the horizon) and personal obligations (appointments and engagements).
I can easily say that the key to my sanity as a medical student is how I organize my day to day.
I’m a creature of habit. At the end of each month, I reflect on how the month went. I take a moment uto to think about: academics (have I been productive, yes or no?), finances (have I been spending responsibly, yes or no?), and my personal life (do I feel as though I have enough time for myself?). . Afterwards, I set goals for the upcoming month. Sometimes the goals are simple: make more time for your friends and other times the goals are more structured/specific.
There are a couple of tools I use to stay organized: my planner, Wunderlist, and my Excel spreadsheet (for finances).
My sister and I tend to get matching planners for the start of each calendar year. This year we got “Molly” daily planners from Susana Cresce. Her planners are gorgeous on both the exterior and interior.
I’m a fan of daily planners so I opted for that, but Susana Cresce does offer weekly planners as well. Each month is flagged with a pink tag. The first two pages are the calendar. I generally write huge events on those pages or big reminders (aka “get a trim”).
Okay so please don’t judge me but there is a particular reason why I opted for the daily planner. The daily planner has a to do list structured by hour of the day. That may seem a bit anal but the week of a shelf or in-house exam or even during dedicated study periods (such as for USMLE) I like to structure by goals by hour. It helps me to stay on pace when I have absolutely no motivation. Otherwise, I just set goals for the day. Weeks like this week where I don’t have an impending exam (thank goodness), my daily entry looks like the image below.
At the start of each week, I fill in my goals for each day of the upcoming week. My goals for the day are pretty general. Continue to read Beckmann. Review flashcards. Go over practice questions. The to do list by hour is just filled with a couple of time-sensitive events. Some days, I don’t use that section at all. Other days (e.g. exam week) each spot is filled. I use the Wunderlist app on my phone with specific goals: read 4 chapters of Beckman; review 50 Lange OBGYN flashcards; go over 50 UWISE questions. Since I don’t carry my planner around with me, it’s really helpful for me to keep a to-do list on my phone. The best thing about Wunderlist is that it syncs with your computer.
There is a section labled “gratitude.” I tend to use that section to write whatever scripture spoke to me that day.
As I mentioned earlier, I find it important to take time at the end of the month and assess my progress toward meeting my goals. The Susana Cresce planners have a few pages at the tail-end of each month that prompt analysis of the previous month and provide space to make goals for the upcoming month.
As always, feel free to ask questions in the comment box below. If you have any tips and tricks to stay organized, feel free to share those as well!