The years you spend in dental school may be some of the busiest of your life. From classes to training to labs, it might feel like there are never enough hours in the day. It may even be difficult to find time for basic essentials like sleeping and eating.
While there may not be a magic bullet to the time management woes of dental school, there are tricks to help you make the most out of your day, every day. Explore these five time management tips for dental school students and try implementing some into your own busy schedule.
It may be difficult to know how you’re going to accomplish everything you need to get done, from studying and classes to lectures, labs and everything else on your plate. Even if you don’t stick with a regimented daily schedule over the long term, creating one may help you to realize how much time each task actually takes.
Remember, not all of your time may be really available for getting things done. A schedule may help you identify the time spent commuting, sleeping, grooming, cooking/eating, etc. By understanding what your day is actually comprised of, you may be able to more easily make adjustments and decisions that free up time for studying, working, sleeping and other important priorities.
Build a new schedule each semester or whenever your daily routine changes. Then, you can continue to assess and streamline your time, striving for the most efficient use of your time every day.
Focus on One Task at a Time
Multitasking may be overrated in some situations. Certain tasks like studying may require intense concentration in order to make the most efficient use of your time. With all the distractions of modern technology, such as a smartphone buzzing with notifications every few minutes, what began as a few hours of studying may stretch over several days. Consider turning off notifications on your mobile devices among other ways of focusing on the task at hand, in order to finish what you're doing, faster.
Your environment may also play a part in being distracted. For instance, studying at home may be hard for some students. There may be chores, roommates, errands to run or an environment that’s not conducive to concentration. A simple solution might be to take your studying to the campus library or a nearby coffee shop.
Even if environments and technology aren’t distracting you from the tasks at hand, think about what could be and take steps to save time by being as focused as possible on one thing at a time.
Study with Strategy
The best time to start studying may actually be in class. During your labs and lectures, take note of topics, points and additional resources mentioned, in order to create a guide for your studying. Rather than spending study time trying to remember what you should be reviewing about topics learned weeks ago, an outline or notes may help you to streamline study sessions and focus on what’s important instead of trying to recall the topic as a whole.
Outsource as Much as Possible
Consider ways to outsource as many errands and tasks as possible, freeing yourself up to concentrate on dental school (and even sleep.) Think about your day-to-day routine over the course of two weeks. What are you spending time on that could somehow be done more quickly or taken off your plate completely?
Consider timesavers including curbside grocery pick-up or delivery services, online shopping, enlisting a friend or roommate to help with your pet, faster transportation such as biking instead of walking, weekly meal prepping instead of daily cooking or home gym equipment instead of working out in a gym somewhere else. What may seem like a small, insignificant amount of time may add up quickly. Even having a low-maintenance haircut may save you a little time every day.
Set Time Aside for Yourself
Regularly budgeting a little time for what you love may help stop you from derailing under the pressure of a schedule that’s all work and no play. Whether it’s a quick walk, a favorite show, a meditation app, or even a phone call, consider budgeting a little time every week for something you love, unrelated to your academic career.
Guided meditation apps may be an easy way to clear your head for even just five minutes a day, wherever you are. Some include a notification and reminder feature that may help you to stay a little more regimented with your relaxation.
Tackling Your Time Management
Dental school may feel like a juggling act, trying to balance an expanding list of priorities, learning the foundations of your future career and performing well in what may be a high-pressure environment. Small but strategic changes may help you to get the most out of every day.
Time management can especially help with studying for your board exams. If those are coming up for you, learn a handful of proactive study tips to help you pass.
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