Since arriving at ICO in 2012, I’ve tried to improve my study habits and general approach to student life. I was a model of poor health during my first year. My extreme commute and my time-consuming responsibilities as senior editor of OptometryStudents.com took their toll. But I made some adjustments, and now I feel mentally sharper and have more energy. Here are some tips that have helped me be successful in my classes and stay healthy–maybe some of these can work for you, too.
Treat your lectures as if you have an exam on that exact material the next day
Don’t waste your time half-listening in class, “multitasking” by scrolling through Facebook or Snapchat on your phone. Imagine that you’ll be performing the clinical procedure you’re learning about later that day, and the patient’s sight depends on YOU. If you can hang on to every word your professor says, you’ll save tons of time studying later on. (Sorry for not heeding this advice sooner, Dr. Goodfellow!)
Maximize your rest
Sneak a few more z’s in the morning by getting everything ready the night before. I prepare any snacks or food I’ll need for the next day, lay out my clothes for class and clinic and pack my gym gear. This way I can sleep later and walk out the door mere minutes after I’ve woken up. Besides, it’s so much easier getting everything ready when I’m alert in the evening, rather than when I’m half-asleep at 6 a.m.
Skip class (occasionally!)
Sometimes, for your physical and mental well-being, it may be in your best interest to study less or even skip class. (Yes, I know this contradicts my first piece of advice, but hear me out.) If it’s the middle of the week, you haven’t worked out for days, and you’re dragging, consider a late-morning trip to the fitness center for some exercise rather than the lecture center for class. You’ll more effectively reenergize by moving your body than guzzling a gallon of coffee, and you’ll still have time to prepare for your afternoon lab.
I’m the first to admit that I still have a lot of work to do on my time-management skills. But I’ve found that it’s all about balance–taking care of yourself while taking care of your studies. I’ve just started my third year and I’m still trying to achieve that perfect mix, but who knows–maybe by the time I graduate I’ll have it all figured out.