Mohammad and I were shooting some ideas back and forth for some posts to do and we came across productivity as something to talk about. It’s never too late and never too early to have a post about keeping your efficiency. So, I thought to myself, what’s the most important thing I can tell other premeds about being productive?
We all have our own ways of studying and our own efficiency, some can super concentrate and others need to spread it out. We also all have different priorities in our lives and they change by the year, by the month, and even by the day. Many would agree that family, partners, and children come first, and others come in sequentially.
Our hopes and dreams are something very important to us as well. For young minds and minds that are taking a new direction in life these goals may be perceived as the driving force of our existence. Take an example that we all know well, Olympic athletes. They train day in and day out at the highest competitive level the world will see. I’ve never personally followed an Olympic athlete’s life but training four years for a day of glory at that level has to cause frustration, stress, and anxiety that other athletes wouldn’t dream of. I’m sure they have days where they don’t think they’ll make the cut and they want to give in. And even more importantly, I’m sure they have days where they can be proud of their performance and be happy that the sweat and blood they put into it is working.
Taking on the premedical career is said to be the hardest undertaking in scholastics just as Olympiads in the athletic world. With this kind of undertaking comes an unusual amount of priority placed on it. It requires long days and long nights, cases of insomnia, and a tenfold amount of preparation for midterms than our peers. Some days we want to be the best doctor in the world and other days we want to retreat to a life in the Amazon. What’s the difference between them and us? To use an oversimplified analogy, they use their bodies and we use our minds.
Just as our Olympic colleagues, we need to place a high priority, or quite possibly the highest priority, on our practice for the big performance or performances such as midterms, the MCAT, and the AMCAS. When it comes down to going on Facebook or learning concepts in chemistry or biology for your exam in the next few days, do you practice for the performance or do you procrastinate until you get to it the next time? If your friends are going to hang out and this is the sixth time they asked you, do you tell them no again or do you go out with them?
I ask questions above rather than making statements of what you should do because we all have our own priorities and they change constantly. Some days we just don’t have the will to study and we need to take the night off and go do anything but everything that we need to do (there’s nothing wrong with this, you can come back refreshed and able to work twice as hard). Other days we need to spend six hours in lectures and ten hours studying. Some of us have children or loved ones to take care of, some people have to work full time and go to school full time, some spend hours and hours doing research, some are volunteering at a hospital part time, and some people are crazy enough to be doing all of those. If you don’t have children you’re priorities will be different than someone who does: to keep up with school work and GPA, they might do research one year and volunteer the next whereas someone without might do both at once. The person without kids will take a different approach and make different priorities because they have different obligations. Or planned out differently, the person with children could do the same as the person without but put less priority on sleep during the semester or puts less priority on social networking and hanging out with friends.
I can’t tell you what your priorities should be in life or in scholastics. However, I will say that in my case and many other premeds that I’ve seen it almost always comes to the highest priority. Family may be #1 but premed life comes in at #1.1 and friends come in at #2. It’s not something we like to talk about but to understand the bigger picture it’s worth mentioning. We may take days off but the productive days and the efficiency throughout that day takes precedence.
We all have things that we find important and we all believe this goal is just as important. The best advice I can give for productivity is to ask yourself, “What do I care about?” What do I have to sacrifice to meet the goals that I want more than anything or almost more than anything in this world? Am I willing to train for an exam just like an Olympic athlete would train for a competition? How hard am I willing to push to be able to sit in a classroom of a medical school I will be accepted too?
If you ask me, I’m willing to put almost all of it on the line.
Other than acceptance into medical school, tell us know what your priorities are (Twitter: @bascani01 or @insanemo). If you’re having trouble balancing, let one of us know and we’ll see if we can lead you in the right direction.
Take care, everyone.