When it comes to difficulties preparing for tests, distractions are the biggest obstacle.
You must keep your ultimate goal in the front of your brain – that of becoming a physician, of serving your community, performing surgery, of saving lives – whatever your personal goal might be. And then you must truly come to terms with what is most important to reaching that goal next and place it at the top of your list. It must come before all other things. This will give you peace and satisfaction – a sense of accomplishment as you attend to it each day.
But the distractions seem to keep pushing their way to front of your brain don’t they? And your goal gets fuzzy or lost.
Conquering those distractions will allow you to focus on your goal that, in turn, will help you find satisfaction through accomplishment.
HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS TO COMBAT DISTRACTIONS:
- Clear your space of distractions --- empty desk -> no distractions
- If the couch or bed is tempting, then you might want to leave and go to a place that is more conducive to studying
- Low Light or Tons of Light? Figure out what is best for you- a place with a lot of light is energizing for some and for some paradoxical reason low light helps others focus better.
- Turn off access to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, forums, etc. Believe it or not, the sky will not fall, the world will not end if you are not “connected” for a few hours
- Study during your peak energy and attention level. Reserve social networking for slow periods – like midnight. Sorry! Again… What is your goal?
- Check your email three specified times per day, preferably during work hours. Spend only 20 minutes each time for email. Think about how much time is chewed up by email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Figure it out. Shut down the internet to work. Disconnect, and work without distractions.
- Get a noise machine or fan to block out noise that distracts you. They makes sounds like rain, oceans, birds chirping, etc. Music can be distracting if you end up listening to words. Background needs to be neutral.
- Turn off your phone, computer, cover your TV with a blanket (yes that is what I said).
- If you are studying with others, they must also turn off all phones, and other socializing devices.
- When you study for tests, stick with your assignment for the day. If you question something in a book, do not look anything up on the computer. This will cause you to lose your rhythm and throw off your whole study session. This can lead to hours of searching. Make a star or note and go back to it later. Stick with your plan of finishing a section or completing a certain number of questions in that study session.
- Break up your tasks so you do not become bored. Study a section then take a set of questions. Go out and take a walk and get the circulation going. Then take another session for reading and note-taking.
- Arrange your work hours so you can have an hour of study before you go home from campus. Once you get home, you will want to relax.
- Arrange a time to worry and get it over with. I know it sounds a bit loony but it works for the masters of compartmentalization, which physicians must be to be successful. Only give yourself 20 minutes. If it is more than that, then you are perseverating and that is a whole different topic.
- Actively study – write notes on paper or dry erase board - even if you trash them. Talk over topics with others, make outlines and charts. Just reading can lead to internal distractions and day dreaming. If you keep re-reading the same thing over and over, you are being passive and not accomplishing anything.
Things you should continue to do:
- Shower, exercise, eat... (just joking)
- Live life fully and make time for fun with family and friends
- See student comments below...