Multitasking with Osmosis
Published on Dec 5, 2019. Updated on Mar 18, 2023.
Want to know how to fit more time for studying into your busy schedule? A third year medical student shares how he was able to fit over 200 hours of extra study time into his routine!
Medical school is one of the most challenging and time-consuming training programs there is: with each approaching final, Step, or shelf exam, there is even more pressure to spend more time learning and reviewing medical content.
It’s not always possible to fit more studying time into an already-packed schedule. One approach to learning efficiently is to multitask. This includes making small adjustments to your daily routine, and studying while doing things like cleaning, cooking, mowing the lawn, commuting to classes and clinicals, and exercising.
Starting with the obvious: Flashcards!
It is easy to fit in a handful of flashcards or questions while waiting in line or carpooling; just save cards/questions to your queue on the site and then download them on the Osmosis iOS or Android app before heading out.
At times when you don’t have your hands free or can’t look at a screen you can still fit in some studying with audio resources. Osmosis videos are an efficient way to review medical concepts covered in class, but there isn’t always enough time to sit down and watch every video from start to finish, even at 1.5x speed (and beyond). The narration on these videos is complete enough that you can get most, if not all of the concepts out of each video just by listening to them while doing something else. You might not catch every sentence, but retaining even 50% of the video is better than not watching one at all. With the Osmosis app, it is now possible to also download videos ahead of time into a Custom Playlist and listen to them like a podcast!
Another way to watch more videos while multitasking is to do what I call studymilling. Take your laptop or phone to the gym and set it up on a treadmill, stationary bike, or weight bench and watch some videos while running or lifting. Videos are ideal for this compared to reading since the text is usually large enough that you can still read it even without staying still, though you might be able to get away with reading the high-yield Osmosis concept notes on a stationary bike.
Using so-called “downtime” to study can add quite a bit of extra study time to your schedule; over the past year, I gained an extra 273 hours* of study time this way. Broken down, that’s 119 hours exercising, 77 hours carpooling, and 76 hours while cleaning and cooking.
A word of caution: there comes a point where it is not possible to add any more study time, not just in terms of hard numbers, but also from a wellness standpoint. Time spent cooking, cleaning, and commuting is often valuable social time with family, roommates, and friends; listening to videos and podcasts over them isn’t always appropriate. Many people see exercise as a mindfulness practice and a way to take a break from studying; studymilling/lifting would almost defeat that purpose. I’ll admit that I spent far more time listening to non-“high-yield” podcasts about medicine or even non-medical content than I did study-listening (437 hours last year) simply because I needed to hear something funny or inspiring as a break!
Still, there will be times when you do need to prioritize studying, such as the weeks before a final or during dedicated Step prep. See this as a tool you can use more or less throughout your medical training and beyond. Make sure to use down time or free time as best you can, whether that be for studying or recharging for the next day.
Abe is a 3rd year medical student at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Rockford campus. He is interested in Internal Medicine but still enjoys learning from every specialty. Abe enjoys teaching in his roles as a Peer Educator and as an Osmosis Medical Education Fellow. He is also a Wikipedian; you can find him here. Thanks to his multitasking skills, Abe manages to find time to play violin and viola as well as do long-distance and trail running.
* Statistics above include non-Osmosis videos and podcasts in addition to Osmosis videos; all of that time was spent learning while multitasking.