“Do you ever stop working?… When do you just do nothing?…You’re crazy!” This is what I hear nearly everyday when people ask what I’ve been up to. It’s true, we are both now medical students with additional degrees and hard work goes with the territory. Both of us also have a lot of other commitments, including our new growing online business. People don’t understand how we can stay motivated or avoid burnout. Truth is, it’s not always easy, there are dips along the way, we are only human after all.
That said people still ask for some words of wisdom so here are some of the top tips we’ve got, the rest is up to you.
1. Get to know what you need to know.
I am always shocked when I hear that people don’t know where to access the curriculum they are learning or what exactly it is that they should be studying. If you are studying to achieve great exam results then it is so important that you know exactly WHAT you need to know. Without this you can’t focus your efforts and lots of your precious studying time could be wasted. If you study something for 5 hours then realise it has no chance of coming up in the exam that’s going to kill your motivation. Always make sure you go to any lectures or seminars which might detail exam content or provide an insight into how or what you will be tested on. These can often be invaluable and give away big clues you might miss if you don’t attend.
2. Be organised, have everything you need, don’t give yourself any excuses.
Print out your notes, set up your desk, write your to do list, get a drink, blow your nose, do whatever you need to do to set up the correct environment for studying. Put the time aside to plan, schedule and prepare, so when you do sit down to study you can be efficient and get the job done…no excuses!
N.B organising your wardrobe or stamp collection is procrastination not preparation.
3. Remember why you are studying.
You might be working towards trying to get into Med school, Nursing exams, A levels, GSCEs UKCAT, Med school exams the list is endless. To put yourself through the often difficult, sometimes boring and always exasperating exams the reason you’re doing it needs to be at the forefront of your mind. For us that was becoming a doctor and getting into medical school which is what we have both wanted for so long. It is really important that the reasons are your own. If you are working to try to please someone else, or because you think it’s what you ‘should’ be doing rather that what you want for yourself then it’s going to become increasingly difficult to keep up your motivation.
4. Make time for yourself and do what works best for you.
Exam season begins - everything stops. Kill all the extra curricular activities and personal relationships as they will only distract you. People often drop everything in the run up to exams but this isn’t going to work. As much as you may think you are, you are not a study robot. You can’t study all day long for the months leading up to exams without eating, drinking or any human interaction whatsoever and expect to succeed. Find time for things that make you happy. Exercise is a great motivator and actually gives you more energy especially if you’re maintaining healthy eating habits too. Take 5 minutes out to chat to your parents, friends or partner but most importantly do what works for you. If you can study for 8 hours quite happily then do it, if you need to take a break every hour to keep you focussed, then do that.
5. Study your own way- don’t be afraid to say NO.
“We are all going to meet up and study do you want to come?” That is often an invitation I have to politely decline. Studying is a personal thing, don’t let yourself get dragged into long revision sessions with others that don’t achieve much. If you’ve got someone you work well really well with then that’s great but if you invite a few more friends along odds are it will stop working. So don’t be afraid to say no. At the end of the day it’s your exam and your achievement.
So in answer to those questions….
Do you ever stop working? - Not really,
When do you just do nothing? - Nothing sounds boring
You’re crazy! - I know!