Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Request: Top Tips for Managing the Workload.

Alright so this has been requested by one of my readers so I'll try my best to answer this request: Top Tips for Managing the Workload.

1) Stay on top of reading and lectures.

Let's be honest's not exactly the easiest thing to do. So it's pretty unrealistic to constantly be on top of it and I have always struggled with it. I mean try your best to do recommended/relevant reading, but there are days where you just don't have time/there is way too much to read - to the point it is ridiculous. At the end of the day, you start asking: "How much reading should I be doing?" To be honest, it depends on your lecture. Sometimes I have amazingly detailed lectures, so I tend to skip out on the reading unless I need some clarification/extra details. Now if I had a lecture which was incredibly brief as in the lecturer spent maybe a total of 20 minutes talking about his confusing topic, then I will definitely need to read and make notes. It's really hard to say exactly how much reading is needed. You really have to judge that yourself as every school's lectures are different and every lecturer is different. I think another way to stay on top of lectures (if this is available to you) is to read next day's powerpoint/lecture the night before. For my university, our lectures' powerpoints get uploaded online for us to download so we can read what will be covered. Even if it doesn't make sense, just reading it helps a bit as when you get to the lecture you'll be more focused on what the lecturer is talking about and will probably make better notes as you know what to expect/know what he/she will be talking about. Also taking notes during lectures is also a great way to help you remember stuff...and it'll make your life a bit easier when it comes to revision as your notes will be ready for your revision.

2) Staying awake in lectures/Go to lectures.

I don't know about you, but I surely have difficulties staying awake in some lectures. Yes they can be horrendously boring, BUT it makes such a big difference when you're actually paying attention as no matter how little attention you're paying, you will absorb some info and the lecturer may even highlight a key point that you need to know for exams.  And same thing with staying awake...if you ain't at the are you going to know if it is important or not. There are lectures for a reason - go to it! I can't stand it when people think they'll be clever and skip lectures. Then when it comes to revision time they call me up and start asking me about the lecture that they missed. My answer: "Well if you actually cared and bothered coming to lecture, you wouldn't be in this position would you?!" It's not rocket science.

3) Use your weekend effectively.

"YAY WEEKEND!" Unfortunately, weekends are great at distracting you from your work. By all means go have fun. I usually go out and play sports on the weekends, but I do dedicate SOME weekends to working/catching up (most likely doing more catching up than anything else). It's the perfect time to catch up on work. If you have caught up with notes and have no plans, spend an hour just reading for the topics for next week, then you can ease the amount of work you have to do during the week.

4) Take a break!

Hey, no one can work forever. Take a break from time to time! No one said shut yourself in your room and become a hermit to do your work. GO OUT! Catch up with friends. YOUTUBE! Watch some TV! Do something else OTHER THAN medicine, plus it'll make your life a bit more interesting. When you take breaks, you become more effective at working. Work for short periods vs. doing a long haul. Well that depends on your personality. I'm horrible at working in short periods as it takes me quite awhile just to get going/working. I'm a long haul worker however that means I take really long breaks. For example: Recently I had my essay due for this attachment...I spent the entire Saturday doing nothing/being distracted/staring at a blank word document. From 1am - 7:40am, I managed to write up 4200 words for my essay. Went to sleep...Sunday - finalized my essay and it was ready to hand in for Monday. I like to say I'm quite efficient, and again it'll depend from person to person. You know yourself best. Do what works for you. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

5) Make a revision schedule.

I know some of you who are already in medical school will probably have exams coming up pretty soon. Go do yourself a favour and design a revision schedule EARLY.  Predict how long you'll need for each topic. For example in 2nd year I dedicated 5 days per topic I had over an 8 week revision period. I tried my best to stick to it, but I always give myself a 1 week grace. So I aim to finish revision 1 week prior to exams just in case anything goes over time or takes longer to revise. If I finish revision on time, then I have the week to go over anything I'm not very sure about or to solidify some things. I also use the week to go over sample papers and any past formatives/quizzes that we got throughout the year. By making a revision schedule, this will probably temporarily cause your stress levels to shoot through the roof, but eventually it'll actually keep you from cramming and you'll feel like you know what you need to still study/you can keep track of your revision progress.

6) Don't leave everything to the last minute.

Aka do not procrastinate. It is extremely tempting to procrastinate, but we ALL know what happens when you procrastinate. Stuff gets real and you start stressing out because you realize you haven't done a lot of work and everything has stacked up. It is tempting to leave your lectures to stack up and just go over em over the weekend (I'm very guilty of that), but in the end, if you are busy on the weekend with sports or whatever, then the work just keeps piling up. The best thing to do is to PREVENT this from even starting in the first place and to avoid procrastinating. It is natural to procrastinate so don't think you're weird or you've got issues. I think every normal person procrastinates. Like some of you have noticed...I am very guilty of procrastinating, but thankfully I'm fairly efficient/effective when it comes to deadlines as I'll work my heart out if that means staying up all night to meet deadlines.  Guess it is a give and take world and like I've said already - only you know how you work. Optimize it and use it to your advantage.

7) Get your work done EARLY.

Again just stressing the previous point - don't procrastinate. Yeah the deadline is like 2 months away, but if you get your assignment done now...well you don't have to think about it anymore. Done and dusted. No need to stress you out anymore. I'm actually very glad I finished my essay 2 weeks earlier than my colleagues as they are now stressing out as my placement is coming to an end. Me? I'm just chilling. Supervisor is off my back as he doesn't need anything else from me as I've finished my essay. Happy supervisor = happy student. Get your work done early. You'll never regret finishing work early...well ok maybe you might...but UNLIKELY you will regret finishing your work early. So just get on with it!

8) Be organized.

When you're organized, you're on the winning side of the workload. Organize your notes into binders or split them out. Cardiovascular notes in one binder. Respiratory notes in another and so on. I'm horrible at keeping my notes organized and every single time when it comes to putting notes away into binders after going through 2+ topics, I start regretting not staying on top of my organization Print out lectures if you can, type out notes if that's what you do, etc. Put them into the respectful binder and you'll be happy with yourself and it is less likely you'll lose those notes when they are slotted into a binder and when it comes to revision - everything is there and ready for you. Easy.

...I can't think of another 2 points to make it a nice round 10 points, but I will think about it. For now here are 8 points. I hope they are useful. I'm just telling how it is. No student is I think the general rule is if you stay on top of your work early - less regrets at the end. I will openly admit that I am very guilty of not always staying on top of my work and I do stress about it near the end. I have no one else to blame but myself as I got to manage my time better/not procrastinate. If you know you're going away for the weekend/busy on the weekend/busy for the your work ahead of time. Don't let it get out of control. Easy to say - extremely difficult to do.

Anyways good luck! If you readers have any requests for me...I'll try to write up a post for you. If you've got a question, I'm sure other readers will think the same. Obviously when I'm busy, I won't be able to get to requests as quickly, but I'll try my best.

More posts to come! :)


  1. Nice to know you take into account your readers opinions and requests :)

  2. Seconded above!
    Perhaps your additional couple of points could be related to how exactly do you take lecture notes? I know it seems silly, but us school leavers are used to having everything handed them on a plate, i.e printouts, it's all written on a board whats important to write down and stuff - I think you mentioned earlier that you take your laptop into lectures with you - how is this useful? Would an iPad be just as beneficial?