Yesterday during an Applied Clinical Skills lecture, our new Dean of Curriculum said something that hit me:
“If you’re waking up each day and just seeing how it goes, that’s not going to work. You need to have a plan.”
Struggling to find a good routine at the beginning of clerkships is normal, but I have been having a hard time sticking to a set schedule for the past few years. It’s all relative I suppose, since I am still getting the necessary work done, but I have been feeling a little lost as how to best manage everything. During the first two years of medical school we had a flexible schedule, so going with the flow could work. I’m feeling a little frazzled now that things are busier. Yesterday I started to realize why.
My eating disorder, over 10 years ago now, was all about control. I fit the classic presentation for Anorexia Nervosa — a type-A, overachieving teenaged girl with underlying anxiety. During my recovery I remained incredibly regimented. I was the queen of schedules — morning workouts, race training programs, daily bogging, and early bed times. It may sound like what many people strive for, but it took all the fun out of my life. I couldn’t relax or deviate from the plan. I missed out on so much, damaged some relationships, and felt trapped by my routine.
So a few years ago I ditched it. When I gained weight to get my period back, I finally committed myself to true health and a full life. I’ve maintained lots of my healthy habits, but with a lot more wiggle room. I ditched the strict routine and opened myself up to more late nights with friends, meals out, sleeping in, and days off from exercise. And it’s been awesome!
Hesitation With Routine
So I’ve been hesitant when it comes to scheduling my med school life. To me, scheduling and routine reminds me of a really hard time. It is the eating disorder that I fought so hard to beat and anxiety I try my best to avoid.
But I’ve got to find a middle ground. Third year is a crazy, busy beast. We work sometimes over 12 hours a day and still have presentations to give and tests to study for, not to mention any exercise, cooking, or other life we try to maintain. As our dean told us, we have to be incredibly intentional with our time. We have to decide what our priorities are and put in real effort if we are going to keep up with them this year.
He used Stephen Covey’s Big Rocks lesson.
Clerkships have to be my number one priority, obviously. I have to give my all to my patients, help out my team, and study to do well on the shelf exam.
In order to do that, I have to take care of my health. So the next priority is my health. I need to get enough sleep, maintain a decent exercise schedule, and eat well so I feel good through long shifts.
After that comes making time for my family and friends, and finally continuing to blog once a week or so. If I can do those things this year will be a huge success! Anything else is an added bonus. (Note: Netflix didn’t make the cut. Sad face.)
I bought myself a planner for the first time in a few years. I’m going to try some home workouts in the morning so that I can can go straight to the library to study when I get out of the hospital (the gym doesn’t open early enough for me right now.) And I’m going to try to schedule out a daily study plan at the beginning of each rotation.
I feel good about this and the level of ease and confidence it will give me. I’m actually pretty excited about being productive and staying on track right now, so let’s hope I can keep that up!
- What is your routine and schedule like? How regimented are you about it?