To succeed, be boring

To be an exceptional med student, it is helpful to be as boring as possible. Stick to a routine, practice fundamental study skills, and automate your basic tasks.

Stick to a routine

For personal health, go to bed and wake up at the same time daily. Make exercise integral to your day, not extraneous. For studying, find a system that works, and repeat every week. For me this means immediate daily review of lecture material, a Friday study group, and a sliver of Sunday to prep for the upcoming week.

Fundamental study skills

Preview lectures (starting with a broad overview), review daily, and learn actively with self-testing. This list isn’t sexy or high-tech, but it will achieve the greatest knowledge gains with the least time. As you systematize the fundamentals, good habits are reinforced until studying feels more natural than forced.

Automate basic tasks

Reduce the demands on your focus to essentials. Invest time up front to set up a structure that allows you to do more meaningful work with less waste. As an example, if you haven’t automated your utility bill payment, you are missing an opportunity to eliminate a monthly distraction. If you are writing research papers, use a tool like EndNote to automatically build your bibliography.

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