Reclaiming your time | Time management 101

Time management is one of the most difficult things for many people to master, especially the professional student. Some people have always had a knack for it, and others have always felt like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I come at this from the student perspective (professional and pre-professional), but most of the advice I have will actually be applicable to people in the “real world” too. I consider myself credible on this topic after successfully juggling school, extracurriculars, social life, etc. for many years now. I will cover just the basics of time management, just enough for you to get started on your journey to reclaiming your time!

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In order for you to master your time you need to first recognize what you’re doing with your time. What are the fixed times in your day (classes, work, etc.) and what are you doing with all of the other hours in the day that aren’t fixed? This can be done mentally or through hour-by-hour tracking. You might notice that a chunk of your day is spent napping or you spend way too much time between getting home from school, showering, and dinner before you’re ready to be productive again. Small revelations can make a big difference in your management.

The next step is to figure out how you want to manage your time. This step also takes a little self awareness because there are so many ways to go about this & you want to choose one that best for you. Planners are so cute and chic and make your flat lays pop, but if you’re never going to actually write in it, what’s the point? If you want to go electronic, you need to make sure you choose something that syncs between your phone and computer. In other words, don’t use iCal on your Mac when you have an Android phone–try google calendar instead. If you are a ToDo list person, I don’t believe you can ever truly master time management, because there’s nothing about them that actually manages your time, they just help you stay organized. They are a great add on to an already established schedule. Personally–well first of all I’m a micromanager of my time, so a lot of what I do is unnecessary for the average person. I use iCal which syncs in real-time between my phone and laptop. I’m able to color coordinate (unnecessary) categories such as personal, academic, specific student orgs, etc. I can usually schedule out about a week in advance, but sometimes I end up scheduling out the day on the morning of–it be like that sometimes. I schedule free time and breaks also, which I advise so you be sure you have little blips of time for yourself.

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So, once you’ve chosen your method, the final, but most important thing, is to know what you have to get done, and how much time it will take you to get done. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is being overambitious thinking they can finish something in less time than reality. I’ve learned it’s always better to overestimate how much time something will take because it takes the edge off and if you finish sooner, then great! Then you can take a break or keep it pushing and go to bed earlier. For example, if you have a one hour block between class and a meeting, you will serve yourself better by reviewing old material or sending some emails than trying to tackle a new lecture you got that day. You’ll spend so much brain power and just when you’re starting to flow, your times up. So save hard core studying for times when you can dedicate at least 2 hours or time.

After that, all you need to do is actually figure out when to get things donewhen in the day and when in the week. With the first step (recognizing what you’re doing with your time), you would have realized which days are heavier on the extracurriculars and have more awkward gaps of time, and which days can be real hard core study days. In order to most efficiently map out a day, you need to determine when you are most productive. Are you a morning person (like me) and can wake up at 5:30am to study before classes? Or do you get your best work done between 9 and 11pm. You’d want to schedule your main studying during your peak productivity hours, and your busy work/errands/exercise/etc. for your off-peak hours. How much sleep do you need a night to be alert all through the day (no nap included)? Sleeping more and napping less can make a big difference as well. And if you hold leadership and have a million extra tasks you need to get done, take advantage of bursts of time that might not even feel “free” like waiting for a friend or breaks in class or that 5 mins before class really starts.

These are some of the things that have helped me improve my time management. If you’d like to know more about his I schedule my days specifically, please contact me. I hope that these tips help you get a better grip on your days. Or if you know someone who struggles with this, pass this post along to them! Have a great week!

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How NOT to check your STEP score

The madness I went through and the one who did it to me

The wait finally came to an end. That fateful email slid into my inbox this past Wednesday, holding my destiny. Of course I wasn’t going to check it right then, I had too much anxiety for that. Even during the school year, weeks would go by before I checked my test grades, that’s just how I am. I planned to check it on Friday after work, so none of my innocent patients would be affected by my results. You’re probably thinking I’m being ridiculous, but this was a hope for the best, plan for the worst kind of situation for me. I was too nervous to check it myself, so I chose none other than my older sister to check it for me. This is a common thing for us to do, so I thought I made a good choice. I was wrong.

Let me tell y’all what she put me through.

I call her as I’m wrapping up on Friday and I gave her brackets of scores. I said this is my goal-goal score that I really want (and semi-magically hoping for), this is my real goal score that I’d still be good with, and this is my OK score that I’d still be fine with eventually. Then I asked her to tell me where I am on the scale. And she says to me you’re below your OK score. In that moment I began to experience what I’m pretty sure was a panic attack. I started sweating, my heart started pounding, I got light-headed and I said what? I was hoping I misheard her but she continued this for another 10-15 seconds with yeah it’s below it but it’s not that bad.. and just as I’m questioning my destiny, trying to make sense of what she was telling me, coming to heart-breaking terms with not performing as well as I had hoped to, she says Just kidding you made your goal-goal!

At that point, I believe I had another panic attack, this time falling to my knees (in the hospital…but it was pushing 5pm and the halls were empty). My heart was in my stomach by now and I was just in disbelief. All I could do was just catch my breath, and praise and thank God. Then I had to find some place to sit down before I actually passed out from respiratory alkalosis lol. Half of me wanted to reach through the phone and choke her for that very painful and unwarranted joke, and the other half was too happy to care anymore.

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It was finally, officially O V E R! And all of my slaving from before sunrise to after sunset day in and day out–It was worth it. God used me this summer to bring glory to His name and show people what He can do when you place all of your trust in Him. I physically tapped out during my study period, and He took over–giving me the strength to wake up, placing my eyes on what I needed to see, designing my exam, and sitting right beside me while I took it. I would be a fool to take full credit for my success on this exam–an absolute fool. But wow, I must say it feels amazing. Telling my parents the news was funny because they didn’t even understand what the score meant. They just were happy that I did well and can finally stop stressing. I think I was starting to scare them because they had never seen me stress so much.

But anyways, thanks again to everyone who kept me in your thoughts and prayers! It’s DONE!

Ekene diri Chukwu! (Thanks be to God)

Update: STEP Studying has taken over my life

Go become a doctor, they said…

Who sent me to go and become a doctor?

It’s not too late there’s probably still openings at *insert place of  lesser establishment*…

Can we just skip to 2019? *gets question wrong* Never mind I’ll probably ruin my first patient…

My brain hurts, I’m tired, there’s no food in the fridge, I’m broke…


Just a few of the thoughts that have run through my head over the past 4 weeks of my STEP1 study journey. Of course, if you know me, there’s 10x’s more positive thoughts floating around than the negative stuff, but just saying that these times have been trying. I’m 2 weeks out from my test with no intentions of pushing my test back by the grace of God. But when I say I’ve never studied for a test as hard as I have for this, I mean it. Every morning I’m up at 6am, spend quiet time with God, watch the sunrise as I go to school (sounds good right?), then sit in a room for the next 12 hours or so before coming home to keep pushing. I mean I take “breaks” in that time of course, and I still go to the gym to maintain my sanity. But I barely have time to do anything else. And it’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just that I find myself asking “is __ really worth this extra UWorld set I could be getting done?” or “should I work on my blog/go to the gym/call this friend or finish this chapter of reading/go through these anatomy points/review micro?” And with such a cramped amount of time to study, I can’t afford to get behind! So I’ve made many sacrifices in this period for sake of my studies–which will pay off in due time (at least that’s what they tell us). Some days my body just can’t do it and I find myself in the fetal position, other days I’m stronger than ever.

Despite everything, I’m still standing, and here’s a few things I’ve learned over the last 4 weeks:

You can still laugh

During the first week of studying, I was so locked in that I didn’t realize how deprived I was from social interaction until we had some friends over our apartment studying. I don’t even remember what we were talking about, but we were just cracking up and inside I was like woah, I feel like I haven’t done this in a while! So that was a quick simple lesson to not get caught up in all the moroseness of studying.

Your classmates know the real you now

During the year, I had weave, twists, crochet, etc. so I didn’t have to worry about managing my natural hair. But during this period I’ve just been wearing my natural hair because I don’t like having hair all in my face. I’ve done cornrows, french braids, etc. to try and spice things up, but after a few days, especially without any make-up I just go back to looking homeless haha. So the classmates I see these days on campus have gotten to know the real me, because I just don’t have time. And unfortunately my Nigerian hair doesn’t just pull back into a nice ponytail/bun.

You need sleep

When I don’t get enough sleep the night before–at least 7 hours–I surely pay for it the next day. My neck just gives out on me and my eyelids follow suit. I’ve never been a coffee drinker, I rely on sleep to make sure my brain is alert the next day. So I have to think twice before I decide to do any extra work after my bed time (which is very tempting actually–wow, how sad is my life lol). When the sleep man comes for me during the day though, I make a double dose of green tea to keep it pushing.

You’re not stupid (even when you miss a Q that 95% of people got right)

I remind myself of this constantly. It’s so easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to everyone else also studying. Especially when you’re constantly being tossed into percentiles. But I’ve learned to trust in my knowledge and have confidence in what I know which has brought me very far. There’s a lot of things I don’t know, but there’s a lot I do know too!

You’re not a machine

The human body wasn’t designed to live like this. No way. You can’t expect yourself to be able to sustain this kind of intensity day in and day out. Common medical school is one thing but this is a whole ‘nother level! It’s OK if you get tired, it’s OK if you want to spend hours on the phone instead of study, it’s OK to rearrange your schedule to squeeze in more time for yourself. Now let’s not get carried away of course, this isn’t play time I have to do well on this exam, but I just have to be real with myself and continue listening to my body.

God is faithful

All the time. I write my prayers out and there are days when I’ll say God if I make it through this day still standing on my 2 feet then I know it was only by your grace because I just don’t have the strength. When I am weak he is strong. Ancient of days. When I finish this marathon I will praise Him without end.

Ok that’s all the rambling I got. I’ll keep y’all updated on my journey! Keep me in your prayers!