By Maham Tasneem
As we all know, learning in medical school is like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. It can be overwhelming, especially, during these difficult times of COVID 19 where we’ve all been stuck at home. However, assignments, written exams, and OSCEs are still around the corner and we can’t lose our productivity. This article explores 7 different aspects every medical student should keep in mind to maximize productivity by encouraging a positive state of mind.
1) Inviting, comfortable, and clean workspace
No one wants to study in a dark, cramped, cluttered corner of the house. Therefore, it’s worth investing some time to clear up your study space; organise it; decorate it. When you wake up in the morning, you won’t dread starting your studies, but will be encouraged to get cracking on the day’s tasks.
2) Eating whole/healthy foods and exercise/keeping active
Many people have reported increased unhealthy snacking during the pandemic, especially when also having to study all day. Medical students work countless hours to finally become a doctor and take care of patients’ health. However, it is important that we do not forget our own health to better our ability in fulfilling our medical role. This can be achieved by regular whole meals and healthy snacks. On the same note, why not have a breath of fresh air as a break from studying. Take a stroll outside by the garden or by the beach shoreline.
3) Good quantity and quality of sleep
This is something medical student are notorious for not following. I know there is a lot to get done. However, in order to increase efficiency of daily tasks, it’s essential to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Think about the last time you had a good 8-hour night’s sleep (probably during the summer break) – you’ll have woken up refreshed, energised and feeling like you can tackle anything in the world. You can feel like that everyday, and get a lot done by just prioritising your sleep. Oh and please don’t forget good sleep hygiene!
4) Keeping in contact with people
Though quarantine has put a hold on our regular social interactions. We can still continue to keep in touch with our loved friends and families through Skype and Zoom. Chatting with others helps reenergize yourself, which is always beneficial when trying to get on top of work. They’re also great in supporting you in being a medical student through these difficult times.
5) Having a life outside of medicine
The vast majority of people who are in medicine are obviously here because they love it and want to do this for the rest of their life. It is an absolute noble profession where you study day in and out for the betterment of people. However, it is also important not to get completely indulged where you forget about yourself and what makes you, YOU. So make some time for other interests you may have, whether it be photography, art, music, gardening, walks etc. You will feel like you haven’t lost yourself and will be even more motivated to continue thriving in the profession of medicine.
6) Creating a schedule
Now, you don’t have to create an over-the-top hourly schedule. A simple list of tasks that you want to complete for the day is more than enough. The idea here is to write everything down that you want to get done for both short-term (daily schedule) and long-term (monthly schedule) goals. This allows you to not think so much about the pile of work you have to get done by the end of the year, but keeps your mind focused on the short-term goals of the day. Ticks for each daily task are motivating for having a productive day. And then having ticks for each day that the schedule has been completed is also extremely satisfying to keep going for the rest of the month. Finally, at the end of the month, you can look back and admire how productive you were over the 30 days and restart the course of action for the next month.
Whether you are a Muslim, a Christian, an agnostic, or an atheist, spirituality is an important social factor in the contribution of health. Therefore it’s important to keep connected to your spirituality and community. There are many great Youtube videos, Instagram and Facebook pages, organisations, etc to support you. Overall, these will aid in creating a good personal state of mind to increase productivity. It’s a win-win situation!