Most medical students do not have a perfect balance between their work, school, and personal lives despite what social media would have you believe. However, it is possible. You can avoid this struggle by utilizing resources around you and with smart planning. I have compiled a short list of tips that may help you juggle work and family life while pursuing your medical degree.
Differentiate Between Work-Life Balance & Work-Life Management
Instead of calling it “work-life balance,” I prefer the term “work-life management.” As opposed to balance, where all aspects of your life are in harmony, management suggests that your attention is split according to your needs and responsibilities.
Making a mental switch from balance to management gives you mental leeway when you fall short on spending enough time with a friend or double-checking an assignment before submitting it.
Priorities change dramatically from day to day, month to month, and week to week, so setting strict rules for what level of attention to give each responsibility is not necessary. There are several tools that you can utilize to better manage your time and tasks.
Manage Your Time with Virtual Calendars
Google Calendar is my personal choice. If you prefer paper calendars, you may disagree. However, the ability to access your calendar anywhere, anytime is amazing. You can color customize them, edit them when on the go, and collaborate with others.
I thought I wouldn’t need a calendar in college, but as a senior, I couldn’t survive without one. Don’t discount traditional calendars as a backup, since writing things down can help your memory, boost your productivity, and increase your mental clarity.
Download To-Do List Apps To Improve Your Mind
According to Wake Forest University professors Baumeister and Masicampo, while incomplete tasks can disrupt us, making plans to complete them can alleviate our anxiety and boost our overall performance. In their study, people who could jot down concrete plans to accomplish a second proposed task performed better on their first task. Just writing out the tasks made people more effective.
Whether you use Asana, Notion, ToDoist, or another app, keeping track of your tasks is so much easier if you write them down. The unique aspect of tracking apps is that they are designed for project managers. Each of these organizing apps functions differently, so try out each of them to find out which one is the best fit for you. You’ll have an on-the-go organization system in no time.
Find Metal Breaks & Study Tools in Books & Podcasts
Incorporating time to read your favorite book each day or listen to a podcast can help more than you realize.
I gave up reading for pleasure for two years and realized how much it affected my daily life when I started reading again. Furthermore, podcasts, especially motivational ones, can be a great asset to your daily routine. Listen to them while you get ready or while eating your breakfast. By the time your day starts, you’ll be more than ready to tackle anything.
MedSchoolCoach has a number of podcasts that you can listen to and that will help you improve your skills as you prepare for the MCAT. One of this podcasts, MCAT Basics, is the most popular MCAT podcast out there. One reason for its popularity is that it is hosted by Sam Smith, a medical student who understands what fellow students have been through. Each podcast covers a variety of MCAT sections based on material provided by the AAMC, such as practice tests and question banks.
Save Yourself from Despair by Leveraging the Experience of Others
It’s always good for premed students to get outside perspective from time to time. We often get too caught up in details of our journey to lose sight of what’s really important. Are you:
- Torn between two extracurricular activities?
- Unsure about what course load to take next semester?
- Confused about when to take the MCAT?
- Stressed by how much time you’ve wasted by doubting your decisions?
The advantages of getting help from professionals may include time savings, reduced stress, and a reduction in potential troubles. In medical school, time may be your most valuable asset.
The people around you can be a huge help in keeping the process moving along and will keep you on track every step of the way. Need a coach to guide you through your college path?
The experts at MedSchoolCoach can pair you with an admissions advisor who can help you with everything from increasing your MCAT score to helping you with the medical school application process, including personal statement and essay writing, or interview preparation. You’ll feel like you have a doctor on your side.
MedSchoolCoach admissions advisors have all worked on admissions committees. They’ll help you maximize your chances of getting into medical school!
About the Author: Olivia Brumfield
Olivia hosts the video series called PreMeducation for MedSchoolCoach. She is also a senior at the University of Rochester who will soon be receiving her B.S. in neuroscience. She is an aspiring physician with expertise in program management, clinical care, and REDCap with intermediate fluency in American Sign Language. She a Clinical Research Associate at the University of Rochester Center for Health + Technology.