blank'/> A LITTLE BIT OF LACQUER: Study Tips

October 7, 2013

Study Tips

Happy Monday!! Time for another installation of our Med School Mondays! Today I wanted to share some tips for something that is crucial to success in medicine (or any higher education) - STUDYING! Even the most devoted learners among us still hate studying, especially because it never seems like there's enough time to get it all done. Hopefully these tips can help some of you!

{a gorgeous work space (via pinterest) & an example of one of my to do lists and schedule}
  • Study in a space that inspires you. For some people this means finding a completely clean desk facing a brick wall, for others it means a library with lots of fellow hard workers, or a spot under a tree, or a pretty desk with inspiring art work. Whatever works for you!
  • Be organized. Know what needs to get done, when, and prioritize accordingly. Keeping a constantly updated to do list will make just sitting down and studying/working more easy. I like to make a to do list, then next to each task estimate how long it will take me or how long I want to spend on it. Make realistic estimations for how long things will take you and plan extra "unscheduled" time in the day just in case you go over. Planning like this definitely makes it feel like there are a few more hours in the day! See my photo for an example. 
  • Study efficiently. After you've estimated how long things will take, prioritize based on what takes the most "brainpower" and start with that. When reading heavy information like textbooks - I first start by skimming the titles/subtitles of the entire chapter, then I read the "summary" at the end of the chapter if there is one, and then I start reading from the beginning and taking notes on things I think I may forget or are really key based on the "bigger picture" I now have in my head. I'm not a huge fan of highlighting but for some people that really works - just make sure not to highlight entire paragraphs/pages - that sort of defeats the purpose ;) For memorizing, use notes or images that best summarize the information and really quiz yourself as you try to memorize - just reading or looking over and over again isn't challenging your brain to really solidify the information. 
  • Eliminate distractions. This is huge. We all have complained about entire days spent at the library, knowing damn well we were on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and texting at least every 10 minutes. There's nothing wrong with using these outlets when our brains need a mental break, but try to schedule actual breaks. Days I'm feeling particularly distracted, I'll set a timer on my phone for 20 minutes - work my a** off for those 20 minutes, and then allow myself an Instagram or gossiping break. Then set the timer again. When I'm doing work on my laptop, the Self Control app for Macs has been super helpful in eliminating distractions - you set a list of websites that are your typical time guzzlers and set an amount of time to block those websites. Once you start nothing will get you to those websites - not even restarting the computer! I love it and hate it ;)
  • The last tip sort of goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway - find what works for you. If you don't know what works and would like to start a good habit,  one I'd highly recommend is to become a morning person. Wake up an hour earlier and try not to nap throughout the day when you're tired - save it for nighttime and go to sleep an hour earlier so your body gets used to the early waking. I used to wake up at 4am, make a hot cup of coffee and get straight to work. It was a perfect, protected time of day with no distractions to get work done before class at 8 or 9. If you're heading into medicine, life will be SO much easier if you're a morning person so why not start now? Again, the point here though is to find what works for you so if you really are most efficient between 1 and 3am then by all means maximize that time and get things done then! Just know that eventually you won't be able to schedule all your classes for the afternoons... mornings will have to happen sooner or later!
I hope some of these tips can help you all become better studiers! Again, no one loves it, but at the end of the day it's what needs to get done in order to achieve your goals. As you get closer to those goals, the things you need to learn and things you need to do become more and more relevant to what you actually want to do! So keep that in mind and study on!

30 comments:

  1. Oh my! Self Control app?!?!?! Are u kidding me? This will save my life big time so thanks :)

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  2. Laura, absolutely LOVED this post. SOOOO helpful!!!! Thanks for posting.
    & thanks for the tip w/ the "self-control" ap. (bye bye twitter) lol!

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  3. Great blog! Can you please blog about some of the research you did and tips on doing oral/poster presentations? Thanks Laura!

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  4. I've been reading your blog for a while, but never commented - I just wanted to say how much I am loving these med school Monday posts! Even though I'm doing grad work in a non-med field, I'm always intrigued to learn how other grad/professional school folks do their work! Thanks for all these lovely posts :)

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  5. Hi Laura!

    This post came just in time as I'm starting my fourth term as a grad student and really need to focus. I am going to have to download that app onto my macbook to prevent me from getting distracted.

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  6. Any tips on *how* to become a morning person? :/

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    1. Besides the waking up/going to sleep earlier, you really just have to learn to appreciate the morning time, find a delicious coffee you like and brew it at home, take a hot shower, whatever helps that time become something you almost look forward to. I've always naturally been a morning so I'm sorry I can't be more help!!

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  7. When do you make the day's to-do list/schedule? Morning of? The day before? A week at a time?

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    1. I always have a long monthly and weekly to-do list in my planner that is updated constantly, and I'll quickly make a little individual to-do list the morning of from the bigger list if that makes sense!

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  8. Your blog is amazing and truly inspiring. Med School Monday's is the just the cherry on the top! I am so happy you added this segment and look forward to them every week :)

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  9. Gonna take some of these tips and see how it works for me! I took your advice and bought a nice planner (it was the only one there and it's such a pretty color turquoise :) ) and I've loved how secure I feel with writing things down. I really do feel very organized. Thanks!

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  10. Med School Mondays make my WEEK! Thank You SO much for you inspiration!

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  11. I really like how your pair your list of to-do's with a timed structure. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I have to do, I don't allocate sufficient time to get it done or at develop a strategy! I reworked my to do list for tomorrow immediately after seeing this post. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful advice!

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  12. i should have read through this a long time ago when i was still studying,, could've helped a lot haha. anyway great post darling!

    xo, Carla
    www.CarlaViolet.com

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  13. God Bless you! oh my goodness this post was SO INCREDIBLY helpful. I recently studied my a** off for a test, studying by pretty much re-writing my entire textbook in my notes -_-. Your technique is going to help me SO much thank you Laura!!!

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  14. thank you for this post! I'll be keeping this and a few of your others in mind for when I start med school. I'm playing the waiting game right now while my apps are in. This series is a nice addition to an already great blog!

    http://inspirationele.blogspot.com/

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  15. I'm not studying anymore but I think your notes on putting timeframes next to your tasks is a really good idea. I am going to start doing this at work as sometimes I get carried away on instagram... :)

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  16. This post was amazing!!! Thank u Laura.
    Please do a post on USMLE. how to pass and study for it.
    Multiple choice or essays?
    That will be really helpful..

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  17. Please do Med School posts more often! They're so inspirational!

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  18. This is so great! I teach a study skills workshop at a nursing school in NC and found these tips to be really helpful when talking with my students! I also loved your time management post. Thanks for giving insight in to what medical students are going through!

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  19. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :) Perfect. I needed to hear the morning person tip (among others).

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  20. Thank you so much! I'm going to download the app even though I don't want to lol. Desperate measures!

    www.more-than-one-love.blogspot.co.uk

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  21. I don't usually comment on blogs as I get a little apprehensive, but goodness me your blog is absolutely incredible! Words cannot explain how useful, interesting and wonderful the things you post really are. Thank you so much Laura, (I think that's your name? This is my first time on your blog) you have really inspired me to work harder and see things under a new perception.

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  22. Your blog is amazing and highly constructive!!! It's appreciated :)

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  23. This article is great!! As a pre-medical student myself, I am always trying to work on my study habits. Are there any apps that you recommend that you use to study A LOT OF MATERIAL? Perhaps on a tablet/Ipad/ hanheld device so you can do it on the go? Please advise!

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  24. Your blogs and every other content are thus interesting and helpful it makes me return back again. www.progressive finance

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  25. Than you so much for giving me nice tips. You can now say that pay someone to write your essay if they are good writer.

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  26. First off, I love this desk space! It is so beautiful and creative. I hope to have an inspiring place in my apartment soon, right now it is just the kitchen table piled with books. Quizzing myself works well and having quizlet on my phone allows me to do some of that on the go or during any down time (instead of skimming IG). Do you have any suggestions for noise cancelling headphones? Not those for playing music or white noise and not clunky that eliminate sounds from distracting for in a library or coffee shop where people may be talking. Thanks

    http://www.millennialbelle.com

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