5 Ways I Crush Schedules in Medical School

The dorsal fin shot up behind me in the crystal waters off the California coast, cruising toward my surfboard at an ominous rate…. Well I haven’t actually been surfing off the coast of Cali, but sometimes I think my heart feels like an inevitable shark attack when I am behind and overwhelmed. Miss one assignment, don’t have supplies for packing a lunch, forgot to call mom this week, didn’t print something for the latest church project, the list of things that can overwhelm me is rather, overwhelming.

Shark Dorsal Fin
Dorsal Fins might stimulate a little more panic than being behind, but still…

Below are 5 ways I, by grace alone, try to stay somewhat on top of my game so I can be a doctor someday. Treating people sounds much nicer than existing as an overwhelmed rando. Tell me what you like from the list and what helps you!

5 Ways To Crush A Schedule Infographic

Meal Plan:
This one is an easy addition to your week if you don’t already prep your food. It takes 15 minutes or less, allows you to choose healthy foods before you are tired and only want to binge eat frozen pizza, and the mother load of all bonuses – you only have to make 1 trip to the store a week. Time is our most precious commodity and going to the grocery store regularly is not how I like to spend mine. I usually allow for a little flexibility in the plan for unexpected left overs or spontaneity (free lunch at school anyone?) And yes, Pinterest boards are awesome for this.

Daily Crush Lists
So I could call it a To-Do list but it is soooo much more motivating to call it a To-Crush list. It can be as short or long as you need it to be – the goal is simply to crush into completeness everything contained in it. Mine changes every day in length and content; typically the most important things go on top. Some days it goes in my journal, some days it goes on a Post -it note, some days it’s in my phone. The central concept is to get your requirements down where you can refer back to them and enjoy crossing them off when you finish. The crossing off part is fun – don’t skip it! It helps with memory gaps, time management, and provides a sense of accomplishment. Juggling different roles can be a headache, but having what you need for each party you are working with makes the achievement process much more streamlined.

Family Calendar
Most of us have a calendar and I have used one for years. Med school’s quick sand environment was wreaking havoc with syncing Tyler’s and my schedules though. Solution? Shared google calendar. By making a shared gmail we can sync calendars together for events and still have our separate gmail calendars too. For instance, if he has a lunch meeting this Tuesday an and I have a surprise party for his birthday that night, I can see the lunch meeting in one color on the google page and the surprise party (that he can’t see) in a different color. So. much. better.

Social Schedule
Momma always said if you didn’t put it on the calendar it wasn’t going to happen. And this sad little statement is true. So schedule date night, time to call your mom, and the time when you just want to have a cup of coffee and not be disturbed. If you don’t set out to make time for everything it will get shoved to the side. Want to hang our with friends before an exam? Catch up with that one friend that you each keep promising to see? Schedule it!

Prioritize Sleep
This one actually doesn’t have to do with scheduling. Most of us forget that if we short-change ourselves on rest we do not “get ahead”. Trying to cut corners on our bodies’ needs does not make us more efficient people. It makes us poor performing zombies with bad hair days.
In college I was always told I would get way less sleep in medical school – I knew this wasn’t the case because I wasn’t going to pass medical school on less sleep. God has given me so much time in a day and I have to make the best of it. There are plenty of other things that can be cut back before the need to cut sleep even arises too (hello social media, un-efficient study, and poor time management). Your brain needs sleep to stay healthy. Twenty years of sleep deprivation will have your brain on its knees begging for dementia. Don’t do it. Cut your brain some slack and sleep the poor organ.

*disclaimer here before a parent gets hold of me, I realize sleep deprivation happens as a parent sometimes (or most of the time) but tiny hoomans are way less in your control than most other schedule variables*

Schedules are crazy, life is crazy, and we have so many God-given opportunities to accomplish things. Our accomplishments can’t come from a disorganized life that always runs at top speed though. There is a time for everything when we bother making time for it. Scheduling helps us crush our schedules so we don’t have to crush our dreams. ๐Ÿ™‚

3 Steps to More Family Time

Howdy! Thanks for coming back. Monday came in full swing yesterday, my 1stย  neuroanatomy exam is over, had my wisdom teeth out and while writing most of this yesterday I was waiting to drive over to the clinic and the student lounge smells insanely good with box after box of hot, greasy, free pizza. And my stomach was growling for it but I coudn’t eat till after surgery… Patience soul, patience. Missing out on free pizza is still good for the waistline I tell myself. But hey, God is good and I don’t have to study tonight.
Yesterday wasn’t that much crazier than any Monday for most of you (or Tuesday, let’s be real)ย  and we still have the ever present time management and work/family balance struggles. You may have read my post about why we should prioritize our families and as promised in the post, here are a few practical applications of that devoted time. So maybe your time management won’t be perfect, and your balance won’t be in the shape of a zen yoga master after reading this but I hope you find it practical and helpful. ๐Ÿ™‚

Schedule it
If you don’t schedule time for the gym or your daily quiet time it isn’t going to happen. If you don’t plan your meals ahead of time you will be making 6 trips to the grocery store this week. If you forgot to schedule that wisdom tooth appointment you will forget about it (thankfully I scheduled this one!). Some people do not like routines or to do lists, efficiency eventually convinces us to use them though. Family time is much more than a to-do list so make sure that scheduling fun time doesn’t stress you out – that would defeat the purpose. My husband and I schedule a date night at least once a week just to spend time together and not worrying about life’s responsibilities.

Keep it reasonable
Calling a family member every day is not sustainable. Neither is spending 4 hours with a spouse and kids after cooking dinner and cleaning the kitchen 7 days a week. Figure out what is reasonable for you and your family is the first step. Spouses are an ultimate priority; they need time every day. Same goes for kids right after the spouse. Extended family beyond that needs to be scheduled in a way that no involved party gets burned out and your spouse and kids don’t miss out on time with you. Kids grow up and leave home, spouses age, and work never ends so make sure you don’t miss out on the best things in life while they last.

Plan to Have Fun
Making time happen is much easier if you have a go-to. New or unexplored park opening in your town? Head there after dinner to check it out this week with your family. No need to wait until the weekend. Find a new recipe on Pinterest (or here) like mushroom couscous? Have a date night at home cooking with your spouse. This is one of Tyler’s and my favorite ways to spend time together. Going to hang out with extended family? Make it a game night; my favorite game with groups is Apples to Apples. We always end up in stitches.

Comment below with your favorite way to spend time with family even with a crazy life! And feel free to share with your friends.