As a student at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, you need to be aware of how you use your time as one resource in organizing, prioritizing and succeeding in your studies.

How does your study time fit within the context of competing activities such as friends, work and family? Many things distract us. We think we are studying for an hour, but truth be told we spent 10 minutes checking our phone, 10 minutes looking at emails and another five minutes just thinking about other things.

Make a schedule, so you know how you spend your time. Develop a semester calendar of important dates including mid-term and final exams, holidays, as well as important social and family commitments. Each week, create a daily schedule that includes classes, study time, as well as personal time.

Be aware of upcoming exams, so you can schedule review sessions a week or so prior to the test. Specify the particular course and the work you will complete.

If you are not getting through all your class material, maybe it's time to ask what needs to be changed about your schedule.

  • Are you being realistic about how long it may take you to read, take notes, or summarize material?
  • Did you leave time to actually study the material?
  • How long does it take for you to become restless? Some learners need more frequent breaks for a variety of reasons.
  • More difficult material may also require more frequent breaks.
  • Place blocks of time for studying when you are most productive. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  • Prioritize assignments and reach for your worst subject at your best time of the day.
  • Postpone tasks or routines that can be put off until school work is finished. That means turn off your phone (not just vibrate) as well as your computer.

One of the biggest challenges is balancing extracurricular activities and personal obligations. The time management and learning strategies you develop when you're in medical school will also help you as a practicing physician.