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 to keep fighting the good fight

What do you do when you’re ready to throw in the towel?

It doesn’t take much time after starting school that all the excitement gets sucked out of everything and you’re just fighting to stay afloat. That’s not a very optimistic statement to make, but there’s some truth in it, especially in medical school. There are random moments when you’re reminded of why you’re putting yourself through such suffering, but they seem few and far in between, until you get to the clinical years. For the first two years of med school, lots of people use the swimming analogy: everyone is just trying to stay afloat. There’s times when you’ve got your stride and you’re cruising, and at some points (most points) you’re barely making it, swamped by the waves that keep coming and coming…and coming. It takes so much effort to stay afloat, eventually your body gets tired, and you want to say screw it. But you can’t. Because you’re supposed to get a couple letters behind your name soon, and you really want those letters.

So what do you do? Here’s some tips from my experience on how to keep fighting the good fight.

  1. Keep good friends around you–I don’t use the term friend here loosely. When Isay friend, I mean someone you can confide in, who knows your weaknesses, who you don’t have to explain yourself to, who only wants to uplift you. When we share our joys they are doubled, and when we share our burdens, they are halved. Medical school isn’t meant to go through alone. It’s important to have friends around you that can encourage you and tell you that you can do it when you don’t believe in yourself. Watch the people you surround yourself with, because negative, toxic friendships can easily add to hardship. happy dog sad hug adorable GIF
  2. Don’t rely on your own strength–We are all strong people, especially to be in this field. We know how to fight to stay up late or wake up early, study harder to get the results we want. But sometimes the fight just isn’t in us. Human strength isn’t always enough and we need to call on God to give us the supernatural strength and power we need to persevere. Surrender it to Him and let him take control. Staying faithful in the Word and strengthening your spirit can help you tap into that power on demand.
  3. Have an outlet/escape–It feels like my life is consumed by medicine, especially so back in first and second year. I found that it was actually harder for me to stay afloat when I convinced myself that I didn’t have time to refresh and do things I enjoyed. I would envy people who had time to keep up with TV series until I realized that they were making time for things to let their brains escape while I had mine on lock down. I learned that taking breaks can actually make your time studying more efficient. So when you feel like you’re ready to throw in the towel, do it. Refresh. But only for a little while.
  4. Give yourself positive affirmations–write them on your bathroom mirror, put  write you are beautiful writen GIF hem on your screensaver, leave sticky notes around your room, recite them to yourself every morning. Positive affirmations help increase your mental toughness, so when doubt, weakness, or negative energy comes your way you can easily block it out because you’re full or positivity. Examples include your favorite uplifting quotes, bible verses, or simple phrases such as: “you are smarter then you think,” “I am powerful,” “I’m going to be a doctor one day,” “You make the world a better place,” “you are important.” You get the idea.
  5. Trust the process–The road isn’t easy and it’s not supposed to be. This profession isn’t for the weak hearted. The process is meant to test you, sharpen you, grow you. We all struggle. When someone on the other side tells me that everything is going to be OK, it’s hard to swallow in the moment. But then I cross that hurdle and realize that they were right. When the going gets tough, instead of getting worn out, we have to trust that we will be better professionals because of this, and let our future selves motivate and pull us through.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, check out this one on Embracing the Journey! Subscribe below for more updates from The Balancing Act.

Precious-medical student & creator of popular med student Vlog “White Coat Chronicles”

Popular YouTuber answers questions about how she maintains her social media presence while in school

Check out her YouTube Channel – White Coat Chronicles here!

Why medicine?

Growing up I knew that I wanted to be in the medical field, simply because that was what I was surrounded by in my family. My mom is Nurse, both of my sisters are Nurse Practitioners, and my brother is a Pharmacist. Initially I wanted to become a Physical Therapist. I loved sports, and I still do, so I thought Physical Therapy would allow me to combine two passions: sports + medicine. I shadowed a Physical Therapist during my junior year of high school and I realized that PT was not the path for me. I felt I could have much more of an impact through pursing a doctorate in medicine, so I made the decision to attend Augusta State University, which had a medical school (MCG) affiliated with it. Looking back, choosing Augusta State was the best decision I could have made. Immediately during my freshman year, I started shadowing in the emergency department at the teaching hospital and I just fell in love with the field. Emergency Medicine is the specialty I want to pursue.

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When did you start your vlog? What inspired you to get started? 

I started my vlog during my first year of medical school, at the start of second semester. During first year, I began to watch other medical school YouTubers. I didn’t even know that was a thing until I started medical school lol. It was cool seeing them document their journey, and I felt it would be nice to be able to look back on my own journey and my experience through medical school as well. I also wanted to be able to show an authentic medical school perspective. I think a lot of people have a certain idea in their head of what “med school life” is like. Medical students are diverse, and we’re not always in our books 24/7 (although we do study A LOT). Life continues while you’re in med school, and I try to stress that in my vlog. It’s important to make time for yourself, your friends and family, and to continue to pursue your hobbies. I don’t want to look back at my 4 years of medical school as a time of stress, hardship, and isolation. Don’t get me wrong, med school is TOUGH, but it is also manageable, and there are times to wind down and have fun.

Lastly, I wanted to start this vlog for the pre meds. Admissions is no easy feat. Students get discouraged by their advisors if they don’t have certain stats, or sometimes they don’t even have an advisor to seek advice from. I try to provide the best pre med advice that I can through my channel. 

How do you find time to record and edit videos with your load as a medical student?

Most of my videos are “a day in the life” type of vlogs. Which means I literally film whatever I have going on that day. If I go to class, I film that. If I go to the gym, I film that. If I go to the coffee shop, I film that.  So I don’t do anything extra for my videos (I honestly don’t have the time lol). I try to get creative with the angles I film and the music I put in the videos, but I make sure that what I film is manageable, and it has worked thus far. If I do a sit down video, then I typically save that for an early Saturday morning. What’s most important is that I don’t allow YouTube to cut into my study time. When I’m done studying in the evening, I’ll spend a little time editing. I never carve out time during the day to edit, because school comes first. Editing is done during my down time. To make things even more simpler, I do all the video editing on my iPhone using iMovie. I film with a Canon G7x, then transfer the files to my phone. SUPER convenient. I can literally edit during a lunch break at school. When I’m done editing on my iPhone, I upload it to my MacBook to add the music.

How did you build your fan base & What advice to you have for other students trying to build their presence on social media while in school?

I believe consistency is key. I started my channel January of this year and I put out a video every single Sunday during Spring semester, with the exception of one week. If you’re consistent and you have good content, then your channel/blog/social medical account will grow. When I do sit down videos, I take the time to research the topic I will discuss to make sure I’m providing my viewers with the best information possible. Quality is very important. Before I started up my channel, I did so much research about YouTube (this was during Christmas break). Camera choices, video titles, thumbnails, how to edit, etc. For me, if I was going to put myself out there for so many people to see, then I had to come correct. So my advice is to make sure you’re consistent with whatever platform you’re using, make sure the quality is up to par (do some research on other youtubers, bloggers, instagrammers, etc), and lastly, just be yourself. I’m a very chill and laid back person and I think my viewers can see that. I’m grateful that people have gravitated to my channel.

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What has medical school taught you about yourself?

Hmmm. This is a good question. Medical school has made me truly value time. With time being so limited, I make a conscious effort to only give my time and energy to things that are worth while. I’m now more appreciative of the quality time that I get to spend with family or friends.

What piece of advice would you give yourself as a first year med student? As a premed?

As a med student: Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own unique capabilities. What works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. I’ve always felt this way, but even more now that I’m in med school…. why look at the next person’s grade? Your classmates grade or study habits should not affect you in any way. Are y’all submitting a residency application together? Taking STEP together? No. So stay in your lane and follow your own path. I see comparison a lot, and honestly it can be detrimental. We have all made it to medical school for a reason; we are all capable. Embrace your strengths and push forward.

As a pre med: Just trust the process and keep your faith. When it comes time to apply, the application process is LONG. You submit applications as early as June, and can wait to hear for an acceptance as late as April the following year (in my case). Don’t get so bogged down with the wait and the different scenarios of “what if”. I was blessed and fortunate to be accepted the first time I applied into my top choice school. The waiting process really taught me patience and my faith grew stronger during that time. God is able. 

Check out her YouTube Channel – White Coat Chronicles here!

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