Since I normally take classes year-round and have been taking premed prerequisite classes after my bachelor’s degree, July was my first month of no classes in six years! Though I’m still working, this was my first month of completely unstructured time.
Turns out, unstructured time is kryptonite to my productivity.
With the July coming to a close, I realized just how much time I spent parked in front of my computer, decompressing with Netflix and Reddit. And you know what? I am not going to let it get to me. Nope! I’m going to muzzle the part of my brain that wants so badly to be perfect all the time. I was due for a break, and I kept up with my secondaries, and The West Wing is fantastic, so no, I’m not going to agonize over a “wasted” month. At the same time, I need a game plan for August.
Thus, without further ado, I present to you my August resolutions:
Just say no to Netflix. Really great programming available on-demand in nearly infinite quantities – Welcome to the future, kids! Unfortunately, it’s a huge time-suck that I can’t really afford. Now that I’ve finished devouring all seven seasons of The West Wing, I’m done. Exceptions to this rule: Netflix as background noise when cleaning, exercising, or spending time with my boyfriend is fair game. (The fact that my boyfriend and I unwind in front of the television with our cell phones out is another post entirely.)
Practice Spanish. For most of July, I completely neglected my language studies. Now I’m back on the wagon, keeping up with the Pimsleur series in the car and Duolingo on my computer. The problem with language learning is that it is a slowwww process. When I get impatient, I start researching language learning tactics, and before I know it, I’ve spent hours researching instead of practicing. No es bueno. This month, I’m going to make a concerted effort to stick to the systems I already have in place (the aforementioned Pimsleur and Duolingo, plus Anki and Spanish-dubbed Simpsons) instead of wasting time chasing down new leads in an unending search for the ephemeral best language learning system. Just like the best camera is the one you have with you, the best system is the one you actually use.
Eat better. Crappy food choices short-circuited any chance I stood at losing weight during July, but at least I didn’t gain any, either. In August, I’m recommitting to tracking what I eat and staying under my calorie goal using MyFitnessPal.
Finish my secondaries, prepare for interviews. It may feel like there’s no end in sight, but the window for secondary applications is drawing to a close. By my count, I have five left to write. I have interviews scheduled for the first weeks of September already so I need to schedule some prep time with one of the more intense professors at my undergrad institution.
Shadow some physicians. While I generally think my application is solid, I have to admit clinical observing is one of my weaker aspects. Which is silly – compared to the other things I’ve done to get to this point, shadowing should be easy! Sure, nobody likes cold-calling doctors, but I’ve been putting it off for long enough. If nothing else, I really need to make some progress in this area before my schedule fills up again.
So there you have it. I do hereby swear, affirm, and pledge to adhere to the above guidelines for all 31 days of the month of August, and to check back in and report my progress (or lack thereof). Full steam ahead.
What about you – What goals have you been working towards? How will you use this month to better prepare for medical school, residency, or whatever life plans you may have planning?
Photo credit – Flickr Blumpy